Tennis String Basics
We’d be remiss in covering the best tennis racquets for beginners without any mention of tennis strings, so let’s dive in for a quick review.
Luckily, when you’re just getting started with tennis, you won’t need to worry too much about your tennis strings. The differences that various strings offer are relatively nuanced and will be hard to detect for players that are new to the game.
However, as your technique and skills develop, you’ll find the strings you use, and the tension you string your racquet can have a dramatic impact on the performance of your racquet.
For that reason, we want to provide some helpful information regarding the different types of tennis strings you’ll encounter and the key factors to consider when selecting a set of strings as a beginner.
Types of String
The following are the two main broad categories of tennis strings:
- Natural gut: Made from cow gut or intestine, these have long been regarded as some of the highest quality strings money can buy. However, due to their low durability and high cost aren’t the most popular, nor do we recommend them for beginners.
- Synthetic: The vast majority of strings these days are synthetic and provide players of all levels with a wide variety of options and price points. Synthetic strings have come along way and become so good that even many tour-level players don’t even bother with natural gut anymore.
Within the synthetic bucket of tennis strings, you’ll find a few different types of materials. By far, the two most popular are nylon and polyester strings, both of which provide players with different playing characteristics.
Here’s a high-level overview of what you can generally expect from each:
- A softer material
- Arm friendly
- Low durability
- Good tension maintenance
- A stiffer material
- High durability
- Lack of tension maintenance
It’s worth reiterating that the above characteristics aren’t hard and fast rules, rather solid guidelines for what to expect with each material. Another element that comes into play is the quality of the nylon or polyester used, which often reflects in the price of the strings.
Beyond the material used, it’s worth noting that strings are also frequently constructed in different ways. We won’t dive too deep here, but two popular string constructions to be aware of are multifilament and monofilament.
Multifilament tennis strings consist of thousands of microfibers woven together and are a popular construction for nylon strings. In contrast, monofilament strings are made of a single solid filament and are how you’ll frequently find polyester strings made.
Last but not least, it’s good to be aware that strings come in different thickness or gauge. As you may have guessed, durability is a factor in that thicker strings will tend to be more durable.
However, the thickness of a string also impacts the spin potential and feel of a set of tennis strings with thinner strings typically providing more of both while being susceptible to breakage.
Here’s a quick table of the various gauges available for reference:
|Gauge||Min (mm)||Max (mm)|
Notice that the higher the gauge, the thinner the string. New players often assume the opposite, so it’s worth taking note.
Recommended Strings for Beginners
As a beginner, we’d recommend you focus your string selection on two key factors: price and durability.
When you’re just getting started, there is no reason to overspend on tennis strings because it will be hard to detect the difference with one set over another. At the same time, you don’t want to have to replace your strings frequently either, so getting something that’s durable and will last is a great option and will save you some extra cash.
Here are some recommend guidelines for your first set of strings:
- Price: $10 or less
- Material: synthetic/nylon
- Gauge: 16
For reference, a few popular options include:
As you’ll see in our guide below, many beginner tennis racquets come pre-strung. If you select one of those racquets, you won’t even have to worry about choosing tennis strings to start.
Restringing Your Racquet
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to restring your racquet periodically. As a beginner, the main factor to consider is your frequency of play.
As a general rule of thumb, I encourage players to think about how many times they play per week on average and then double that number for the number of times they should restring per year. For example, if you play twice a week, then you should restring four times a year or every three months.
Check out our article on how frequently to restring for an in-depth review of factors to consider, including how to know when it’s time.