Three Ways To Tell If Your Polyester Tennis Strings Are Dead

For certain styles of play, polyester tennis strings provide amazing playability  – great control and plenty of spin, but most polys lose tension and playability fairly quickly.  But just how quickly?  And how do you know when your polyester tennis strings are dead?

To address the first question…  It depends.  Different polys lose tension and playability at different rates.  Older, first generation polys tend to lose tension fairly quickly – perhaps in as little as two to six hours of play.  Newer polys have technological advances in the material and the composition that allow them to maintain tension better/longer, but don’t kid yourself…  All polys lose tension faster than other types of tennis strings – especially natural gut and multi-filaments.

To address the second question…  Here are some general guidelines to tell when your poly strings have gone dead:

1. Feel – It is hard to describe, but the more you play with poly, the better you’ll get at determining when it has gone dead.  It just feels differently, and you’ll get to the point when you know it.  It will feel more board-like, and it will lose control.  Additionally, you may find that you have to hit harder in order to get your usual pace.  I use Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough, and when fresh, it has an incredible, almost magical crispness to it. When it loses playability, it is easy for me to tell because that crispness is gone. 

2. String Movement – When poly goes dead, it tends to lose its ability to stay in place.  This is referred to as its resiliency, or more commonly as its ability “to snap back” into place.  Often though, this means it is VERY dead.  It often can go dead long before string movement occurs.  If your poly strings are moving, it is time to cut them out and re-string.

3. Tension Loss – You could invest in a tool like the Beers ERT 300 Tension Meter and begin monitoring tension loss in order to know when the poly’s tension has dropped significantly.  With a tool like the ERT 300, you can measure the overall Dynamic Tension (DT) of the stringbed as soon as it comes off the stringing machine.  Then after a few hours of play, you can measure the overall DT again and compare the results to the initial measurement.  A simple calculation will give you the percentage of tension loss.  (Note:  I record DT measurments for every stringjob I do for my clients.  I do this for two reasons.  1.  To ensure the new stringjob is consistent with the last stringjob I did for them.  2.  To help them determine if it is time to re-string – based on the percentage of tension loss.)  One thing to keep in mind though…  Loss of playability and loss of tension are not always the same thing.  A poly can lose playability more quickly than it loses tension.

Playing with dead polyester strings can, as mentioned above, cause a decline in your performance.  Additionally, playing with dead polyester strings can cause arm and wrist problems.  (Actually, even fresh polyester strings can be a little more harsh on the arm than other types of strings, but dead polys can be more harmful.)  Therefore, it is important to know when your poly strings are dead, so pay attention to the warning signs.

Thanks for checking in.


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  1. Steve says:

    How many hours before your Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough would go dead? I’m trying to get better about restringing at right time and those are the strings I use and love currently.

  2. David Henry says:

    Hey Steve. I have a some issues with tennis elbow, but I still love the way Alu Power Rough plays – even though it is not the best string for my elbow. So to error on the side of caution, I usually cut it out after about 8 hours of singles play. I could probably eek out a few more hours, but I just don’t want to risk further damage to my elbow by playing with dead Alu.

    Take care.


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