Have you ever watched professional tennis on TV and wondered why players often unwrap what look like brand new tennis racquets during a changeover? Here’s your answer: it’s about the strings.
The pros hit the ball so hard and with so much spin that after a set or so, the condition and tension of their strings deteriorate to the point of affecting the quality of the players’ shots. Those extra, plastic-wrapped racquets they carry onto the court in their gigantic tennis bags have each been strung (usually just hours before the match) at a precise tension and with the players’ preferred string material(s). They’re insurance that the player will have an identical replacement if a racquet’s strings break or lose their performance characteristics mid-match.
Now, admittedly, most of our customers at Omega Sports aren’t professional tennis players. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take a page from the pros and bring us their racquets to restring from time-to-time. Here’s why.
String Tension, Material, and Condition Matter for Everyone
The physics of a tennis shot are the same for every player, no matter their ability level. When a tennis ball impacts the strings of a racquets, the strings absorb some of the force by flexing and rebounding like a trampoline. In that split second of flexion and rebound, the strings grip the fuzzy material of the tennis ball (which itself deforms a little upon impact). The speed and arc of the player’s swing, and the angle and directional movement of the racquet head in that moment when the strings grip the ball, determine where the ball goes next and with what speed and spin.
How tight those strings are, what they’re made of, and what condition they’re in, make an enormous difference in the flight of the ball after impact. Here’s how.
- Tension. The looser the strings, the more they flex and the longer it takes for the ball to rebound off of them. The longer the ball stays on the strings, the easier it is to impart spin, which is good because the increased trampoline effect also makes the ball fly further. Conversely, the tighter the strings, the less time the ball spends on the strings, and the more muted the rebound. Most recreational players want a string tension somewhere in the middle. Many pros, depending on their playing style, often favor extremely high or low tensions.
- Material. Strings come in varying degrees of thickness, flex, resiliency, durability, and ball grip. For any given string tension, these variations affect the amount of time the ball spends on the strings, how quickly the strings rebound, and how well the strings hold onto the tennis ball’s material.
- Condition. Through use and the passage of time, strings break down, losing their ability to rebound and to grip the tennis ball. Tension alone stretches strings out (which is why a racquet you haven’t played with for a long time will have lost tension just by sitting in your tennis bag). Strings also rub against one another, causing abrasions that weaken and eventually snap them. And, of course, every impact with a tennis ball stretches strings and wears away at their surface.
When to Restring
Considering how important strings are to where the ball goes after you swing, it should be obvious why it matters to keep your strings at the right tension and in good condition. What may be less obvious, however, is knowing when it’s time to bring your racquet into Omega Sports for us to restring it. Here are some signs it’s time for a restringing:
- Your strings break. (Duh.)
- You haven’t used a racquet for a season.
- The string material is noticeably frayed and/or strings have cut deep grooves into each other.
- The impact of the ball on your strings starts to feel “dead,” even though you haven’t made changes to string tension or used a vibration damper.
- There’s a funny “BOING” sound on impact and/or the ball keeps flying a lot further than you intended.
- Your game seems to have gone down the tubes for no reason.
Omega Sports Has Your Tennis Needs Covered
Omega Sports helps tennis players of all ability levels choose the right racquets, strings, and string tensions for their game. For all of your tennis needs, come on in to any one of our locations across North Carolina or shop our online store.