Monday, April 8, 2013

What tension do you want to string at?

Kristianne Bontempo | Contributor

In our last post about stringing, we discussed when to restring. In this post, we're following up on your quest to become a stringing expert by giving you some stringing tips for the next time you drop off your racquet. One question you'll certainly be asked is "What tension do you want to string at?"
Racquet tension is just as important as string selection. Whatever tension you choose dictates how the ball will respond on your strings. All players serious about their game can appreciate how tension can affect their power, spin, and control so it's important to understand what tension works best for your racquet and style of play.
For those new to the game, you can find your racquet tension along the racquet head or inside the throat by searching for the small writing indicating head size, weight, balance, etc. You will come across one that states the tension, which indicates the racquet’s recommended tension range. In this example, we'll use a Wilson Juice which has a tension between 53-63lbs.
Now that you’ve found your tension range, it's time to choose your tension. We typically recommend to players who are not sure what they want to stick with a medium tension. So with the Juice, the mid would be 57/58. But we want to guide you in how tension can work for or against you in case you were ever to venture outside of your comfort zone.
If you feel your shots are flat or running wild, then a higher tension may be the right solution. Going above the medium range will help create less springiness and will  give you more control. Of course it’s important to note, that going over the recommended range will result in a tension that is too tight which hinders your power and may feel like your swinging with a wooden board rather than a $180 racquet. Also, for those that suffer from tennis elbow beware--higher tension may create more stress on your arm. 

However if it's power that you want, a lower tension is the way to go. Going below the medium range will give you the extra punch you're craving and might also ease any tennis elbow/shoulder pain. Roman Prokes (professional stringer to the pros) says, "People are used to seeing 60lbs and then you suggest stringing at 45 lbs and they think it’s crazy. But it’s easier on everybody’s shoulders and just works better.” Unfortunately, there's going to be a downside. Unless you can hit a good target, like really good, you might be hitting over the back fence. 

One last point we'll bring up about tension is how it changes over time. If you're a player that waits more than 5-6 months to restring, you're tension will loosen. You may hate this and can't wait for a fresh string job, or you might love how it plays at the time of restringing. If that's the case, try a lower tension from what you last strung at and you should barely notice the difference.

So take a moment to look at your racquet tension and if possible find out what it was last strung at. If it feels great after restringing then obviously leave it, otherwise maybe it's time to venture outside the medium. If you're still unsure, ask the stringing pros at the tennis desk. Tension and strings go hand in hand so we will follow up with an upcoming discussion on the importance of string selection.  

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