How to Find the Perfect String Tension: Experiment

I often get asked by clients, “What is the best string tension for me?”, and I often answer by saying, “I don’t know – we’ll have to experiment.”

I’ve been around tennis long enough and have enough knowledge about strings and stringing that I can usually get a new client’s string setup pretty darn close to being an ideal setup for his/her game.  Can I dial it in perfectly on the first try?  Sometimes.  But more often than not, I can’t magically predict the perfect string setup for a new client.  There is really only one path to the perfect string setup, and that path is one of experimenting, testing, tweaking, testing, and refining.  Let me give you a personal example related to string tension…

When I first started playing with Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough about a year and a half ago, I initially strung it up at the same tension I’d been using for synthetic guts strings in the past – 65 lbs.  I didn’t like it too much.  It felt very stiff and board-like.  I dropped the tension to 62 lbs., and I really started to experience some of the magic of polyester string.  At 62 lbs., it felt much better than at 65 lbs., but something inside told me I could make it play even better.  I dropped the tension to 61 lbs, then 60 lbs., then 59 lbs., then 58 lbs., and then settled in at 57 lbs.  At 57 lbs., it plays incredibly well.  I thought it was heavenly at 58 lbs and actually kept it at that tension for quite a while, but that extra drop to 57 lbs. made all the difference in the world.  My game has improved noticeably since the drop to 57 lbs.

Without experimentation, I would have never found the magic I am experiencing now, and I encourage you to experiment as well.  Even if you’re pleased with your current string tension, could you be even more pleased with a different tension?  Could your game improve with a slight tweak to your tension?  Could a lower tension help with arm problems?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  But you will never know the answers to these and other questions unless you experiment.  Talk an idea over with your stringer, your teaching pro, and/or your hitting partner, then give it a shot.  As always, if you want to bounce any ideas off me, please feel free to reach out to me.  I am happy to help.

Lastly, here are a several items to consider when experimenting with tension:
1.  If you are sailing too many balls long, consider increasing your tension.
2.  If you want more depth on your shots, consider decreasing your tension.
3.  If you are experiencing arm pain, first see your doctor.  Secondly, consider decreasing your tension.
4.  Only change change tension in small increments.  Then assess the playability and tweak further if necessary.
5.  Only change one variable at a time.  For example, if you change your string and tension at the same time, you won’t necessarily know which is responsible for a change in performance – the string or the the tension.  Keep it simple when making changes.
6.  If you play competitively, test any tension changes in a practice session first – not in an important match.

Thanks for checking in.


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