Why Use Hybrid Tennis Strings?
Hybrid stringing enables players to strike an ideal balance between the unique characteristics offered by two different types of strings.
As you might expect, every string comes with its pros and cons, so combining them can help enhance or mitigate specific qualities in an effort to get the best of both worlds.
Here is a handful of qualities frequently associated with tennis strings:
- String Movement
- Tension Maintenence
Once a player finds a string they enjoy, they might consider combining it with another string to enhance any of the above qualities. Let’s review a few specific scenarios that drive players to consider hybrid stringing.
One of the top reasons players consider moving to a hybrid string setup is for durability, and there are two options a player can take.
The first route you might consider taking if you love your string, but they break too quickly, is combing your current string with a lower gauge, i.e., a thicker version, of the same string, which you’d string in the mains.
Yes, you could string your entire racquet with the thicker alternative, but you can maintain a bit of extra feel, spin, and power with the hybrid.
Unfortunately, not all strings come in multiple gauges, so if you’re already using the lowest available, that’s not an option. In this scenario, you’d want to consider a different string that’s thicker or offers more robust materials and construction.
For example, if you use a multifilament like Wilson NXT, you might combine a thicker alternative of a similar string like Wilson Sensation 15 to improve durability. Alternatively, you might combine the same type of string with more durable materials, such as Wilson NXT Control. In both scenarios, you maintain the full multifilament setup while improving the overall durability.
If that’s not enough, you might opt for an entirely different type of string for a hybrid, such as a polyester like Wilson Revolve.
Keep in mind that if you opt for a significantly more durable string than the one you’re already using, then you might consider reducing the thickness of that string. Here’s an example:
Current setup: Wilson NXT 16
Hybrid setup: Wilson NXT 16 with Wilson Revolve 17
The higher gauge Wilson Revolve may be more than sufficient for the durability you desire, while also offering better feel and spin than the thicker version. Not necessary, but it’s an option.
Another common and growing reason for using a hybrid string setup is to improve comfort.
These days, polyester tennis strings are highly popular, and while they can offer excellent performance, they’re stiff and low powered, which can lead to injury over time. The use of polyester with a stiffer tennis racquet can further exacerbate the problem.
Players who encounter issues with polyester tennis strings might abandon them altogether, which in some cases is the right call. However, an alternative would be to combine the polyester they’re using with a softer string to improve comfort without entirely forgoing polyester.
Depending on the severity, players who find themselves in this situation might take a subtle and admittedly less common approach of combining a softer polyester with the ones they’re already using.
However, the typical path would be to combine polyester with natural gut or a multifilament to for a more substantial boost to comfort, while keeping in mind that the whichever string they place in the mains will dominate the overall feel.
Another entirely sufficient reason for considering a hybrid string setup is to reduce the cost of stringing.
For example, a player that enjoys the comfort, feel, and power of Tecnifibre’s premium multifilament tennis string X-One Biphase, but struggles with the price tag, might consider combining with another less expensive option, such as Tecnifibre Multifeel.
Another route would be to combine an ultra-premium natural gut such as Babolat’s VS Touch with a premium, yet less expensive multifilament option like X-One Biphase.
Keep in mind that you’d want to string the higher-priced or more quality version in the mains in both scenarios since that selection will dominate the overall feel and hitting experience.
Transition Juniors to Polyester
First and foremost, parents need to consider their children’s health impact and longevity before making a switch. Polyester strings are stiff and can be harsh on a player’s arm, especially when combined with many modern and stiffer tennis racquets.
As a result, transitioning kids to polyester too soon can result in long term injury and complications that reduce their ability to perform and enjoy the sport, so it’s not a decision that parents should take lightly.
With that said, when your child reaches an age and skill level where the lower power, high spin potential, and durability of polys would be beneficial, it can be helpful to string hybrid to start.
For most, I’d recommend not even considering polyester string for strong intermediate to advanced juniors until they’re at least 16 years old. Still, it’s important not to rush and evaluate your child’s development.
There are alternative string options out there that should be more than sufficient up until this age. You may go a year or two stringing more frequently due to strings breaking, but you’ll be protecting your child’s health and longevity.
When ready, a hybrid string setup with a multifilament or natural gut combined with polyester can be an excellent starting point. Stringing the multi or gut in the mains will maintain maximum comfort, while the polyester will stiffen up the string bed to reduce power and allow the main string to slide more easily for added topspin.
You may choose, or your child may decide to move to a full poly setup once their 18 years old, but it may never be necessary. Many professional tennis players use a natural gut and poly setup their entire careers.