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The impact of string tension in a tennis racket

Updated: Apr 10

We are always looking for ways to improve our performance on the court, whether it be by practicing serve, running drills or hitting the gym. One crucial yet often overlooked factor that seriously influences our game is the tension of the strings on our racket. After all, this is (supposed to be) the only part of the racket that comes in contact with the ball. The tension of the strings can influence various aspects such as power, control, spin and even injuries. In this article, we will delve into the science behind string tension and explore its effects on our game.

Tennis strings on a tennis racket

Understanding String Tension

String tension refers to the amount of force applied to the strings during the stringing process, typically measured in pounds (lbs) or kilograms (kg), it usually varies between 44 and 66 lbs (20-30 kg). Racket manufacturers and players alike recognize the importance of string tension as a key variable that can be adjusted to suit individual playing styles and preferences.

In that regard, we can find a wide range of string tension on the ATP tour. Adrian Mannarino has a unique preference for an extremely low string tension, going as low as 17.63 lbs (8 kg) for a Davis Cup tie while the American John Isner played with a 66 lbs (30 kg) string tension. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the right one for you.

Effects on Power

The tension of tennis strings plays a crucial role in determining the power generated by a player's shots. Generally, lower string tensions result in more power, as the strings have greater elasticity and can deform more upon impact, picture it as a trampoline. This allows for the ball to stay in contact with the strings for longer, enabling players to harness more energy and generate more powerful shots. Players who rely on a baseline power game often prefer lower string tensions to maximize their shot speed and depth.

Effects on Control

Conversely, higher string tensions provide better control over the ball. When the strings are strung at a higher tension, they become less elastic, reducing the trampoline effect upon ball impact. The ball will remain in contact with the strings for a shorter period of time, lessening the string movement and the sometimes unwarranted effect that it can have on consistency. This results in a more precise and controlled shot, which is particularly advantageous for players who focus on precision and shot placement. Serving and volleying are areas where higher string tensions can offer a distinct advantage.

Effects on Spin

Unfortunately, the string tension doesn’t play a major role when it comes to topspin, unless you’re using the right strings. Polyester strings impact top spin due to the snap back effect when the ball brushes against them, increasing the rotation of the ball as it leaves the racket bed. To maximize this effect, a lower string tension would be recommended.

Impact on Arm Health

String tension can have implications for a player's physical well-being, particularly in terms of arm health. Higher string tensions transmit more shock to the player's arm upon ball impact, potentially leading to discomfort or injury. Players with a history of arm issues may opt for lower string tensions to mitigate the impact on their joints and tendons. We also recommend using a elbow support brace to reduce the impacts and help recover from a tennis elbow.


In the intricate world of tennis, where every detail can influence a player's performance, string tension stands out as a critical factor. Whether a player prioritizes power, control, or a balance between the two, understanding the impact of string tension allows for informed decisions when selecting or customizing a tennis racket. Ultimately, the ideal string tension is a personal choice that requires experimentation and a thorough understanding of one's playing style.


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