How your child strings their tennis racquet can make a big difference in their game. Does your child have trouble keeping the ball in the court? It could be the strings. Does your child seem to hit every ball short and inside the service box? It could be the strings. Does your child have to take a lot of time off because of tendonitis? Again it could be the strings. Each different type of string has its strengths and weaknesses. If you match your child’s strings with their play style, it can significantly improve how they play. Different strings can give more power or more spin or even help prevent tennis elbow and injury. With the right knowledge, you and your child can work together to find the perfect string combination for them. In this article, we will talk about the different kinds of string options out there and how different string tensions and gauges affect play.
The gauge of a tennis string refers to how thick the string is. The smaller the gauge, the thicker the string. Higher (lower numbers) gauges offer more durability and control. Greater durability means that the strings will both hold their tension longer (Explained later) and will take longer to break (Pending on how often your child plays and their level the strings in their racquet will snap and break apart). Lower gauges (Higher numbers) have more power and spin than larger ones, so your child will be able to hit a faster and heavier ball. A heavy ball is one with a lot of spin on it. It is considered heavy because it is harder for an opponent to handle since it feels as if it has more weight. Gauges range from 15 to 19 with 15 being the thickest string and 19 being the thinnest. The most popular gauges are 16 and 17 since they provide a good amount of durability without sacrificing to much spin and power.
Tension refers to how tight the strings in a tennis racquet are and is calculated in pounds. Higher tensions (55 pounds and up) will give your child more control, and lower tensions (54 pounds and below) will give them more power. If you think of tennis strings as a trampoline, it becomes a little easier to visualize. Higher tensions will have less of a trampoline effect because they are tighter giving your child more control. Meanwhile, lower tensions will have more of a trampoline effect giving your child more power. Racquets typically come with a recommended tension printed on them, and we suggest you have your child start somewhere in the middle of that recommendation. For example, if a racquet gives a recommended tension between 50 and 60 pounds your child should start out at 55. Then it will be a little bit of trial and error from there. If you find your child keeps hitting the ball out, then try raising the tension of their strings. If you find that they keep hitting the ball inside the service box with little power, then try lowering the tension of their strings. We suggest you do these changes in small increments of one or two pounds each time you restring your child’s racquet. Lower tensions also tend to be easier on the arm and shoulder. So if your child suffers from tendinitis, you can try to lower the string tension to see if that helps.
Different types of strings
The four most common types of strings are polyester, multifilament, gut, and synthetic gut. Each of which comes with its strengths and weaknesses.
Poly strings have the highest durability (will take the longest to break) out of all of the strings mentioned in this post. So if your child tends to break a lot of strings, you might want to look into poly strings. This type of string also provides a lot of spin which is perfect for intermediate to advanced players. One of the negatives of poly strings is that they often provide less power because they are a stiffer string (offer less of a trampoline effect). Poly strings also lose their tension fast (if you strung the racquet at 55 pounds it would slowly start to drop in tension after a few hours of play) and can be harsh on your child’s arm and shoulder. So if your child tends to get tendinitis you might want to stay away from poly strings or at the very least hybrid them with a softer string to take some of the edge off (when you hybrid strings you use different strings in the crosses and mains of a racquet). There are also copoly strings which are a little softer on the arm, but they don’t have quite as much spin and durability. A copoly could be a happy medium if your child wants the spin of a poly without it being too harsh on their arm.
Multifilament strings are made of a bunch of different string fibers woven together. This gives it a similar feeling to gut and is ideal for spin and feel. Multifilament strings hold their tension well and are soft on the arm so they shouldn’t cause many shoulder or elbow issues. They don’t have the best durability, however, and vary widely in price. The best multifilaments (Strings like Wilson NXT and Head MLT) tend to be a little expensive, and they don’t particularly last all that long before breaking. That being said Multifilaments are a great string to give your child more feel on their shots and can be a great hybrid with poly strings
Gut is the original tennis string and is made from cow intestine. It is some of the softest string on the market and provides great spin, feel, and control. It is also great at holding its tension due to its flexibility. That being said it is probably the least durable out of all the strings and the most expensive. So if you have the money feel free to splurge otherwise, you can always use synthetic gut or multifilament strings instead.
Synthetic gut is the cheapest out of all the string. It’s a softer string, so it is easier on the arm and can offer nice control and feel with a little more durability than gut. That being said you get what you pay for and this string is not going to blow anybody away. It can, however, be very useful as a cheap alternative especially when used as a hybrid.
The last thing we will mention in this post is when to restring your child’s racquet. We suggest that you restring their racquet as soon as they notice a difference in their play or after they break a string. Whichever comes first. So if your child starts to notice that they are hitting a lot more balls out and feel like they are losing control, then it is time to restring their racquet.
We hope this article was helpful! Please let us know in the comments below!
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