Tennis is a popular sport with a bit of equipment needed to participate. One of the most important pieces of equipment within tennis is the racket. That being said, casual players often overlook the importance of tennis strings within the racket. Read on to learn more about tennis strings, their different types, brands, and what they’re used for.
What Are Tennis Strings Used For?
Tennis strings are what make up the center of the head of a tennis racquet, and they are usually made from cow intestines, nylon, or polyester, depending on the type of string. The strings that a player chooses to have in their racket can reveal a lot about them. Tennis strings can affect everything, from the level of control a player has over the tennis ball to how long a player can use their racquet without needing to replace the strings.
Tennis strings are one of the most important pieces of equipment for tennis players. Even things that may seem inconsequential, like the material a string is made with or the thickness of the string, can affect a player’s ability. For example, a more advanced player may prefer thinner strings so they are more able to tailor how fast the ball is hit or how much it spins; however, the tradeoff is that thinner strings are less durable.
Things to Consider
When looking for tennis strings, you'll want to consider the following:
- What level of tennis do you play?
- How much do you want to spend on tennis strings?
- What type of tennis string is best suited for your game?
- What thickness of string is best suited for your game?
What Are You Looking For in Tennis Strings?
- Adult use
- Youth use
Tennis strings come in a variety of options to suit the needs of players at every level. Below we will cover four different types as well as their pros and cons.
Synthetic gut is a very common tennis string. It is usually made of nylon and has good playability, meaning that it’s relatively easy to play with and enhances a player’s game to some extent. Synthetic gut strings are also affordable, making them a great choice for beginners.
- Decent playability
- Not very comfortable, especially for people with arm injuries
- Not ideal for advanced players
Natural gut strings, as you may have guessed, are indeed made from animals. Typically, the material for these strings is cow intestine. Natural gut strings are undoubtedly the best strings for playability and feel in terms of their weight on the arm and what it’s like to play with them. However, they are on the fragile side and can be quite pricey.
- Best playability
- Best feel
- Preferred by professionals/advanced players
- Susceptible to moisture damage
Like synthetic gut strings, multifilament strings are usually made from nylon, just really small fibers of it wound together. These strings are often touted as the next best to natural gut strings because of their feel and playability. They’re also more affordable, providing a less expensive alternative for those looking for a great value tennis string.
- Great playability
- Great feel and comfort
- Most similar to natural gut strings
- Not as durable as synthetic gut strings
- Not ideal for powerful hitters
- Doesn’t offer as much control
Monofilament tennis strings are typically composed of polyester and are the way to go for advanced players who hit with a lot of power. These are the most durable of the tennis strings listed here, but that also means they’re the hardest, making them more difficult to use for beginners.
- Hard enough to keep powerful hitters from overhitting
- Offers control and spin
- Taxing on the arm
- Doesn’t provide the best feel and comfort
- Not recommended for beginners or injury-prone athletes
As in any sport, there are a few brands to take note of when it comes to this particular piece of equipment for tennis players. Some of the most noteworthy brands that make tennis strings are Babolat, Prince, and Wilson.
Babolat is a great place to look for monofilament, multifilament, and natural gut strings. They also have hybrid strings, which are a blend of synthetic and gut strings. These strings come in different colors, lengths, and gauges with an average price of $16 to $52 unless you’re looking for lengths over 12 meters, 12 being the standard length in meters to string a single racket.
Prince is another great option when looking for new tennis strings, with its offerings including monofilament, multifilament, and synthetic gut strings. Prince brand hybrid strings can also be found, all for less than $20, but they don’t offer any natural gut options. Of the types that Prince sells, most can be purchased in lengths of 40 ft (enough for one racket) and any thickness for less than $5. Of course, there are other gauges and lengths available, with reels going for about $80 from retailers. However, they are not sold on the Prince website itself.
In terms of price, Wilson falls between Prince and Babolat. The brand sells all of the different string types but for a little more than the former and less than the latter. Wilson strings can cost anywhere from $5 to around $40 but seem to average around $21 for a single racket worth of string. A reel, which is usually around 660 feet (enough to string 16 rackets), can cost anywhere from around $75 to $265. The brand is known for its NXT line, which uses patented materials for enhanced comfort and power.
How do you know what thickness of tennis string to get?
The thickness of tennis strings, also known as the gauge, is measured in millimeters. Unfortunately, there is no one scale that has been universally adopted to measure the gauge of tennis strings. Depending on the brand, there are various scales ranging from 1 to 15 and 1 to 19, ordering strings thickest to thinnest. For this reason, it is best to check the thickness in millimeters of the specific strings you want to buy. Thicker strings are more durable and offer more control, while thinner strings bring more spin and power.
What kind of strings do professional tennis players use?
Most professional tennis players use natural gut strings because of their numerous playing advantages. These strings have a feel and playability that can’t be beaten, plus professional players can afford the pretty penny that these strings cost. That is not to say that professional players don’t use other strings. Strong players are more likely to use monofilament strings than natural gut strings because they are more durable and able to withstand powerful hits.
How much do tennis strings cost?
Natural gut strings are the most expensive, costing about $40 for their superior feel, power, and playability, but there are also much more affordable options. The price tag on reels of tennis string might be alarming, but they are often the most cost-efficient. It’s still possible to get good tennis strings for $15-20. Keep in mind that the number of times you play tennis each week is the number of times you should replace your strings in a year.