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Play with softer string setups

by TN

I’ve spent one day in Sweden so far and met some local club players. I have one recommendation: Play with softer string setups!

The reason I want to urge most players to play with softer string setups is that all the racquets I’ve seen today on the local scene, have been strung with something like Babolat RPM Blast 1.25 at 26 kg or 57 lbs! Racquets: Blade 98 V5, Blade 98 V7, Wilson Pro Staff 85. These racquets are not made to be played with this string tension unless you’re breaking strings and a very advanced player hitting heavy topspin shots. But these guys I hit with today are around 3.0-3.5 club players. They are not aware of string brands and tension, so you just hand in their racquet for stringing and get something that will give them tennis elbow quickly.

I gave two sets of HEAD Velocity MLT 1.25 to my stepfather so he can play with something more comfortable at least. He hits the ball flat, so the Blade 98 is fine, although perhaps a tad demanding. HEAD Velocity MLT is a pretty control-oriented and durable multifilament string, which he can string relatively high at 24-25 kg (53-55 lbs), still get control and comfort, and not worry about making his elbow sore.

Two easy tips to avoid arm problems and to get more out of your string setup

Tip 1: Use a multifilament string (or syn gut/natural gut) unless you break strings or want a lot of spin/durability from your setup.

Recommended multifilament strings

CONTROL STRINGS: HEAD Velocity MLT, Tecnifibre Triax, Yonex Rexis Speed
POWER STRINGS: Babolat VS Touch Natural Gut 1.30, Luxilon Natural Gut, Tecnifibre X-One Bi-phase

Recommended softer polyesters

SPIN: Solinco Hyper-G Soft, Volkl Cyclone Tour
CONTROL: Solinco Tour Bite Soft, Luxilon Alu Power Soft, Isospeed Cream

Tip 2: Reduce your tension

In the racquets, I mention in the first paragraph, control-oriented racquets with tight patterns (18×20) a lower tension around 20-21 kg or 45-47 lbs is the way to go if you use a polyester string. Just look at a player like Lorenzo Sonego who plays with a Blade 98 and uses Alu Power Soft at 47-48 lbs. Yes, he plays with more spin and many rec players hit the ball with a flat trajectory, but at least use 49-51 lbs max (22-23 kg).

If you use a multifilament string, you can go for a higher tension, 24-25 kg or 53-55 lbs. But don’t go much higher than that, I still see club players with 29-30 kg and that’s too much in my opinion.

I think many club players would benefit from a slightly softer string setup. What strings and tension do you use?

 

 

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14 comments

Joe August 13, 2021 - 19:12

Great advice. Another suggestion is to use thinner strings if you’re having arm problems. Switching from 16 to 17 gauge in my favorite multifilament (X-one biphase) has really helped my aging elbow. I had thought about switching to a more open string pattern, but I like the 18×20 pattern of my Prince 100P frames for ball control. I do end up spending more money on thinner strings since they wear out faster, but it’s a lot cheaper than a new elbow.

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Caleb August 13, 2021 - 21:34

You forgot to mention hybrids (poly-main, synthgut-cross) which are largely underrated, even cheap synthetic gut. Obviously better cross string can be used.
Also partially the manufacturer’s fault for putting things like “recommended tension 50-60lbs.”
People really don’t understand you can go below that.

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Brad August 14, 2021 - 01:22

I have used Volkel Cyclone at 46-50 lbs. Currently using Tire One Firewire and Blacknight at 46-50 lbs. I experimented with Head Velocity MLT and Tier One Triumph at 52-55 lbs. I enjoyed the multi a lot. Since using the Prince Phantom 100p, the stiffer syrings at low-moderate tension has not bothered my arm or elbow at all. A softer frame with a firmer string provides me with a nice mix of durability, feel, and access to spin.

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Anthony August 14, 2021 - 03:47

Volkl v square 17gauge at 53lbs in one stick and Wilson Revolve Spin 16gauge at 51lbs in the other. Both racquets Ezone DR 98+. Find both set ups very comfortable. Moved from an Ultra Tour strung with RPM Blast at 52lbs which brought on significant wrist/elbow pain. Been on steady road to improvement since racquet/string switch in March coupled with daily exercises provided by physio.

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Thurai August 14, 2021 - 03:55

Also worth thinking about recreational players that are not string breakers. Need to contend with drop in string tension and poly not going dead quickly (like ALU Power). I play slightly flatter with a stiff racket (Pro Staff 97). Ideal set up will be ALU Power main 53lbs x Natural Gut crosses 54lbs. But as ALU Power goes dead quickly, found that Isospeed Cream is a good substitute as it doesn’t go dead quickly. If natural gut is too expensive, then replace with multifilament crosses like NXT it Babolat Xcel.

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Frank August 14, 2021 - 05:34

Hyper G at 63 lbs

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Barry August 14, 2021 - 06:05

Moved from Head Velocity at 53lbs to Solinco Hyper-G 17 @ 48lbs. Like both but am enjoying the Hyper-G in the Prince Phantom 100X 305

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Jonas H August 16, 2021 - 22:48

This summer I bought a Gravity Pro stringed with RPM Blast 1,20 mm at 23 kg. It may seem like a contradiction when you aim for an arm friendly setup, but I wanted to take one step at a time, starting with changing to a softer racquet (used to play with an Extreme MP 2013 with a poly string). When it is time to restring the Gravity, I will try a softer string setup. Also to learn about how different types of strings feel.

Jonas E, bilderna visar att du nyss besökte min tennisklubb!! Kul!
Det hade varit kul att växla ett par ord!

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Jason August 17, 2021 - 17:58

As long as you keep using sub 300 gram racquets that are also ridiculously stiff I don’t think you’re going to solve the problem with softer strings alone.
I read the review on the Tecnifibre T-Rebound 298 IGA (shown in this article). The review tells me this racquet is rated at a whopping 71 RA strung (so about 74 unstrung), and at the same time the frame weight less than 300 grams. If you then further add to the problem by using a black (= stiffer) string you have a recipe for disaster!

You don’t have to go Clash all of a sudden but think about your racquet specs if you’re concerned about arm issues.
I use Head Pro Tour 2.0 (65 RA strung) which allows me to use black, stiffer strings because the frame is comfortable enough and has some heft to it (spec weight 325 g unstrung).
There’s a very useful article on this, titled “Arm friendly tennis racquets” (October 18, 2019).
It can be found in the main menu on the home page under ‘Racquets’.

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Andi August 22, 2021 - 23:12

I can highly recommend Sergetti stringing of polys at low tension to reduce arm issues while not sacrificing control. The center mains will still be strung at higher tension (=control) while stringing the outer mains at lower tension greatly reduces the shock you get with off-center hits.
I strung my Babolat pure drive at 21.5 kg with Head Hawk 1.25mm and it was still absolutely controllable and much more arm friendly.

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Zub August 23, 2021 - 14:07

Good article, and always helpful. I have been using Clash 100 Tour with Biphase and loved it. However, through feedback from other players using my rackets, they have found the set up lacks control. So have started a journey again, to find a set up that will be a bit more control. Starting Hybrid of Tour Bite in mains and Biphase in crosses (52lb/50lb). This has been good, but my arm is still sore not painful. Planning to try a few more hybrid set ups, but wonder if is should just go back Biphase at a higher tension or go full bed of multi using one of the options above.

Thanks Jonas for the article. Will feed back here.

Zub

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TN August 24, 2021 - 09:44

You should play with what you feel works for you, so I wouldn’t worry about feedback from other players. If you like Bi-phase, go for that. You can always go for a Clash 98 if you need more control and enjoy the Clash. ProKennex racquets are also great for sore elbows.

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Ryan Williams August 24, 2021 - 19:23

Would Weiss Cannon Ultra Cable be considered a softer poly? TWU String Database has the stiffness at 174.9 (close to Hyper-G soft in stiffness), but I keep reading on forums that it is stiffer.

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TN August 27, 2021 - 22:44

It feels much stiffer than that to me, not sure the stiffness rating is everything when it comes to string comfort, but it does sound like a low reading…

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