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Playing with Low String Tensions

by Tennisnerd

I am currently playing with low string tensions as an experiment. It has become quite popular among club players and pros to string low. But what is “low” and what does it to do your game?

First of all, I want to say that I only recommend stringing low if you are using polyester strings. Going for a lower tension with a full bed of multifilament might make you lose control of your shots. Multifilament strings doesn’t have the snapback effect of the poly string (which moves out of place and then snaps back into place after a shot). That’s why you need to move strings back into place when you use a multifilament or natural gut string. But for regular poly users, I recommend giving low string tensions a try!

The definition of low is pretty vague. I would say anything at or below 50 lbs or 22.5 kg is a lower than average tension. Tensions have dropped over the years with the introduction of poly strings and the average string tension is likely to keep dropping a bit more. Most pros are still in the range of 24-25 kg or 53-55 lbs for their polys. But they hit hard and generally prefer control over some help with depth or improved comfort. Also, if you use a hybrid setup, your string tensions will likely be a bit higher. I prefer around 25-26 kg or 55-57 pounds for the softer string (multi or gut) and 23-24 kg (51-53 lbs) for the firmer string (poly).

The Pros and Cons of Low String Tensions

I have played around with low tensions before, but not really captured it on video for my YouTube channel (video coming in a near future). Right now, I am testing a 19 kg / 42 lbs full bed of Toroline Caviar in my Yonex Ezone Tour and a full bed of String Project Rocket 18 kg (40 lbs) in my Wilson Six One 95 ncode 18×20. I enjoyed the first couple of hours because I felt the following benefits:

+ Improved comfort
+ Better pocketing (ball sinks into the string bed)
+ Increased spin (more snapback as the string move more)

I felt confident taking big cuts at the ball and going for the corners of the court.

However, around 2-3 hours into my playtest, when the strings had dropped a bit more in tension (poly strings continuously drop tension until you need to restring), I started having the following issues:

– Lack of control
– The string bed felt a bit mushy (too soft, not firm enough for my taste)

The low tension string bed played better in the Six One 95 thanks to the smaller head and tighter pattern, while I didn’t feel quite as confident with the slightly bigger head size and more open string bed of the Ezone Tour. I think it’s important to point out that I tend to like a firm response from the string bed and value control over free power. This is why I did enjoy the low tension, but I might want to stay around 21-22 kg or 47-49 lbs for my regular stringing.

Summary

If you are looking for improved comfort, spin, and depth on your shots – stringing at a lower tension is a must-try. It might take some experimentation to find the right string/tension for your game, but it’s a journey worth taking. I was playing with 24-25 kg (53-55 lbs) a while back and it wasn’t great for my arm. With a lower tension, I get a bit more for free and since I string myself, I am fine to restring a bit more often.

But it all depends on your playing style, your level, and what racquet and string you use. Going for a low string tension in a Pure Drive might create too much of a rocket launcher, while it might be just perfect in a more controlled string bed. As you know, I am also a fan of hybrid string jobs which will give you more comfort and power, without really reducing the tension drastically.

A firm poly will give you more control also at a lower tension, while a softer poly might be too springy. You have to try a few different setups and see what works for you. If you think that you won’t be able to control the ball with a lower tension, know that Adrian Mannarino strings his Babolat Aero Pro Drive 2013 with Luxilon Alu Power Ice Blue below 45 lbs!

Have you tried playing with lower string tensions? 

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7 comments

Robin November 17, 2020 - 3:09 pm

Hi Jonas,
How are you doing? Some time ago!
I play now with 10 kilo in the mains and 12 kilo’s in the crosses with the stringproject Gold string in my PT57A’s. Love it! No lack of control 🙂

Reply
Diego from Barcelona November 17, 2020 - 3:17 pm

Hi!,
What is better for the elbow?
Head Velocity 1.25mm at 53lbs or Völkl Cyclone 1.25mm at 47lbs?
I´ve a couple of Wilson Blade 98 v7 customized (338gr, 32,5 balance).

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Caleb November 17, 2020 - 6:12 pm

I string my Ultra Tours with Head Lynx 17 at 45lbs, probably will try 47 just to experiment with feel.
Also string my Ultra Tour with a hybrid of head pps 17 and lynx 17 at 45lbs, maybe slightly better feel as I like synthetic gut.
The feel of low tension in that frame is excellent.
Lynx also seems to hold tension pretty well for a poly, I use the anthracite color.

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Thomas November 17, 2020 - 9:30 pm

Also consider stringing lower to restore some comfort and power when temperatures drop during the winter – and unadjusted stringbeds get harder and deader

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Andreas November 19, 2020 - 3:25 pm

I use a hybrid with multi and poly at 16 kg and 17 kg respectively and I am loving it. The pocketing and feel is great, and suddenly my serve and backhand are weapons.

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Stanislav November 19, 2020 - 5:44 pm

Try to prestretch first about 10%. For any poly string with low tension, especially for soft.

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Mark November 24, 2020 - 6:47 pm

I string my Wilson Ultra Tours with 18 gauge poly at 48 lbs. That’s the lowest tension I have ever used.
I don’t think I can go much lower as I’m primarily a flat hitter and this tension takes my strokes deeper.
Looser might mean hitting long. Very comfortable. I never thought loose strings were the way to go but 48 seems OK to me.

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