Whether you’re an avid player or a novice, every tennis racquet needs to be restrung over time. But why is that? And how do you know when it’s time to get some fresh string on that bad boy?
What happens to tennis racquet strings over time?
Touring pros restring every day. Recreational players restring anywhere from every three or four times they play to once a decade, or until the strings break.
Tennis string has an unfortunate property—beginning from the very second it is put into the racquet, it loses tension and continues losing tension with every second and with every hit. As tension goes down, the strings stretch more upon impact. When the strings stretch more, the ball stays on the strings longer. The increase is only a millisecond or two (depending on where on the racquet you hit and how violent the impact, dwell time is typically 5 to 7 milliseconds).
During that extra millisecond, your racquet will sweep through both a larger vertical and horizontal arc. This will increase power and lose control. This will launch the ball on a higher and more sideways trajectory than you are used to. The ball typically goes longer and wider when the strings loosen. You can’t figure out what technical flaw has emerged in your stroke, and you begin to mess with perfectly good mechanics to fix your mysterious ailment.
What impact does tennis racquet string have on the player?
As strings lose tension, you may feel that the racquet is “going dead,” “getting mushy” or “losing its punch.” Obviously it is not, since the ball is going faster and farther. But what is happening is you have lost the crisp feel you have become accustomed to. Crisp means more shock, but shock is feel. The only sensations of striking a ball that your hand feels are shock and vibration. This is your feedback mechanism. When the feel is the same every time, your response is to groove the stroke; when it is different, you respond by continually adapting and adjusting your stroke.
What are the effects of not restringing enough?
If you don’t restring often enough, chances are you’ll spend much of your tennis life compensating for your changing string tension instead of honing your swing. Consistency is the key. You want to play with the same racket as you did yesterday—one that will behave the same way in the same situations so you can let your muscle memory take care of swinging while you figure out what you’ve got to do to beat the guy or gal on the other side of the net.
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