Updated: October 12, 2015
Tennis Racquet String Reviews:
Stringing your tennis racquet is something that most tennis players do at least once a year, but for those of us that play 2 or 3 times week we string our racquets more like 3 times a year. The more spin you hit, the more likely you will wear out your tennis string. Guys like Rafael Nadal put so much spin on the tennis ball that they are more likely to break strings. With 100's of different types and makers of tennis strings, it's not easy these days to choose the right kind for your game. There are really two main categories of strings - synthetic strings
and natural gut
. The pros are the ones using natural gut since it has excellent tension stability and elasticity but the stuff is darn expensive and probably not a good choice for beginners or even intermediate players. Natural gut is made from the intestine of a cow. It used to be that getting natural gut wet would ruin the strings, but manufacturers now put a protective coating on them so they function and perform just fine in damp conditions. The durability of natural gut is still not considered as good as say kevlar or polyester strings. The best known natural gut strings are Babolat VS Team, Klip Legend, Bow Brand Championship and Pacific Prime Gut and each is slightly different in quality.
Synthetic tennis strings
are by far and away the most popular for the recreational players. They are still durable enough, give you plenty of feel, and come in a variety of styles to fit everyones game. There are nylong strings, polyester strings, structured strings, titanium strings, multifilament strings, and hybrid strings. You will see more players with nylon tennis strings on their racquest than any other type. The strings are made with a single nylon core and come with different types of wraps (materials and angles). Strings like TOA Leoina 66, Wilson Championship Nylon, Babolat Powergy, and Prince Tournament Nylon are common nylon types. Strings made of polyester provide the player with various gauges to choose from depending on what they are looking for - durability or elasticity. Polyester strings do lose their tension faster than most, but they are perfect for players that tend to go through strings fast anyways and need to restring often. Luxilon, Polyfibre, Head, and Kirschbaum all make polyester strings along with the other manufacturers. Titanium strings have titanium built into the coating of the string or in the filaments. Once popular, these strings are rarely used anymore. Multifilament strings are created using microfibers to increase the strings "playability" factor and have them hit more like natural gut. They are more expensive than typical nylon strings and they do fray a bit and therefore break quite easily once the outer cover gets worn away. Players like these strings for their elasticity and the popular choice amongst players are those from Tecnifibre but Isospeed Professional, Head FiberGel, Kirschbaum Touch Multifibre, Wilson NXT Tour and Babolat XCel Premium are gaining in popularity. If you want lots of spin on your shots, then textured, or structured, strings can provide that. You get incredible spin and control but lose durability so you will breaking strings more often. Prince Topspin Plus is perhaps the most well know of these types of tennis strings. The main (up and down) strings break way more often than the cross strings so hybrid strings have been developed to help players who tend to break main strings all too often. I use a hybrid string like Prince Pro Blend which offers me up durable main strings and a cross string with enough feel to hit my topspin forehand. Other examples include Pacific Poly Gut Blend, Volkl Catapult FIRE, and Wilson HyperLast. No matter which string you choose you then have to decide on the string tension which we will go into below. Tension essentially decides how much control or power your hitting style needs. You can browse the top selling tennis string here
String Tension and Gauge:
The string tension on your tennis racquet can really impact the way you hit the ball. There are some general guidelines to string tension - the higher the tension you get less power, more control, less durability, and less feel. Another thing that happens with people that hit with racquets strung fairly tight is that they develop "tennis elbow" and other arm problems. With loosely strung racquets you can more power, feel, and durability, but you lose control. Beginners often get caught wanting to generate a lot of power but forget that who cares how hard you hit the if it goes out all the time. Therefore, we suggest a median string tension so you get a good balance of power and control to start with. I string my racquets at close to 70 lbs since I take big swings at the ball and hit with heavy topspin. Andre Agassi used to string his racquets at over 70 lbs while guys like John McEnroe was much less. When you first get a tennis racquet the pro should be able to get you a string and tension that fits your game. As you progress, try different tensions periodically to see how your game changes. I know for a fact that if I use my brothers racquet (strung loose) it takes a long time for me to get used to the lack of control. When you are talking about string gauge, terms like spin, feel, comfort, durability, and elasticity all come into play. Thicker gauge tennis string provides less of all those attributes except you do get more durability. Thinner gauge strings break more often, but provide more of everything else. Again, it's a trade-off on what characteristics you want from a tennis string and once you play enough you should have a better understanding of these terms.
Best Tennis Racquet String:
As you can decipher by reading all the ingredients that go into strings, tensions, and gauges, it's hard to say which tennis string is truly "the best". It's almost like saying which golf clubs or golf balls are the best. Each has it's own attributes that make it unique and so personal preference decides which one you choose. The one thing I will say is that you will get comfortable with one type, so be sure to demo out a bunch of racquets and get a feel for the different types of strings and tensions before deciding on a new racquet/string. We found several sites that rate and rank tennis strings with in depth reviews and reasons for the high or low scores. The two best sites are Stringforum.net
and an older rating system done in 1996 by the USRSA. You'd be surprised at how well the strings of 1996 stack up against the current versions. Tennis-Warehouse.com also offers up some reviews on the latest string offerings.
Buying Tennis String:
I have always bought my tennis string from the ads in the back of Tennis Magazine from companies like Midwest Sports and Holabird Sports. Of course, that was before the Internet came along and made things so easy when ordering tennis supplies. Now, I can price compare within minutes by looking at websites such as Tennis-warehouse.com
. Tennis Warehouse carries all the major brands of tennis strings like Wilson, Kirschbaum, Tecnifibre, Head, Gamma, Babolat, Gosen, Prince, Luxilon, and Yonex. Some strings are sold as low as $3/set while Babolat VS Natural Team Gut 17 (1.25) String
goes for $34.95. I think a string for about $8 is a good buy since stringing will cost you probably $15 to $20 for the labor involved. You can check out the most popular tennis string online here