You may have noticed whilst watching the elite tennis players on TV or, if you’re lucky enough, watching them from the stands, that the professionals change their racket several times per match. So what makes them need to do change their racket so regularly whilst the majority of amateurs rely on one, sometimes two rackets for all their training sessions and matches?
This can be due to a simple factor such as a worn out grip or it could be a more technical reason such as the player deciding to slightly alter the weight or balance point of their racket, although this is not as common. The most common reason for changing rackets is because of the strings. The harder a player hits the ball, the quicker their strings will wear out, whilst players may also wish for a change of string tension during the match.
So should I be changing my racket as often as the professionals?
The simple is answer is no. The cost of having 5 or more rackets constantly restrung for each match you play is extremely high. There is however, a wide selection of strings on the market, each offering different performance qualities to match player’s needs. One of the main qualities sought after by amateur players is string durability and it is one of the reasons why you may not need to change your strings more than once or twice a year never mind per match.
If you are looking for a string which will offer you high durability then choose strings which have a thick gauge string. String gauge is the thickness of the string; thicker strings (1.3mm – 1.5mm) are more durable whilst thinner strings (1.3mm and below) offer more performance. Many players try to find a compromise between the two. Another way of increasing the durability of your strings is to choose strings manufactured from or coated in abrasion resistant materials.
If you are a hard hitter then simply using thick gauge strings or abrasion resistant materials may not be enough. You will also need to take into account the type of string you are using. The majority of amateur players use nylon or synthetic gut strings but if you are a hard hitter then these strings won’t last that long. Polyester strings are extremely durable but comparatively don’t offer much power or feel. Therefore a growing numbers of players are combining polyester strings with nylon strings to produce hybrid strung rackets. For example the polyester string is strung as the main (vertical) strings and the nylon as the cross (horizontal) string. Polyester strings are popular with the professionals as they offer increased ball control but you will only be able to generate power with polyester strings if you are hitting the ball with force so these strings are not ideal for everyone, young players still physically developing in particular.
Another reason for restringing is in order to alter or refresh the string tension. String tension refers to how tight the strings are strung. Low tension (around 50-55lbs) generates more power (think about how a trampoline works) and high tension (around 56-60lbs) improves ball control, particularly if you hit the ball off-centre. Even if the strings have not broken it is common for players to request for their rackets to be restrung as string tension will naturally decrease over time. There is a rapid decrease in tension in the first 24 hours after stringing which is why the recommendation is not to play with it in this time until the tension loss has stabilised. The tension loss will then slowly decrease over time with varying speeds depending on the type and construction of the string. Eventually the strings will feel dead and often loose, it can be seen clearly if you move an individual string and it doesn’t return to its original position. The performance offered by the strings at this point is extremely low.
Often players view this as a reason to purchase a new racket as their current racket isn’t performing as well as when it was brand new. However, this shouldn’t be necessary as often the frame will be fine and once freshly restrung the racket can often feel brand new again. If you’re going to spend a lot of time choosing the right tennis racket, it is well-worth spending the same amount of time choosing your strings and restringing when necessary as 50% of the performance of the racket comes from the strings.
Whilst it would technically be possible to restring your own racket, it requires the right equipment and definitely the necessary experience of the technique to restring your racket properly. Therefore unless you have previous experience of restringing, it is highly advisable to get it done professionally. Racket restringing is available in many of our stores or check with your local tennis club for restringing services available in your area.
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