How Often to Change or Replace Tennis Strings: A Guide to Restring Your Racquet

How Often to Change or Replace Tennis Strings

A guide to restringing your racquet

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One of the most common questions about tennis strings is, “How often should they be replaced?” It’s a great question and one that many players don’t give a whole lot of consideration.

The truth is, strings wear down from play and subsequently lose their elasticity and tension. If left too long, it can negatively affect your performance. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why and when you should change your tennis strings.

Article Contents

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Why Change Your Tennis Strings?

Here are a few of the top reasons you should be restringing your tennis racquet periodically.

Tension Loss

The first, and most apparent reason, to replace your tennis strings is that they will lose tension over time.

When you install a new set of strings, it’s kind of like purchasing a car. The moment you drive a new car off the lot, it automatically loses value.

Similarly, your tennis strings begin to lose their tension immediately after you string. In the first 24 hours after stringing, strings can lose roughly 10 percent of their tension. This reduction in tension continues as time goes by, and you get out on the court and start hitting.

String Performance

As your strings go dead, they begin to lose their performance characteristics, which you may have bought them for in the first place.

For example, polyester strings can help a player maximize their potential for topspin. However, as they lose their tension, they also lose their resilience and snapback effect, which is part of how they help players generate topspin.

Prevent Overcompensation

One of the worst things that can happen to a player is they begin to adjust their technique, or an instructor or coach tells them to adapt their technique to compensate for a loss in tension with their strings.

Since the tension of your strings can have a significant impact on the power and control you generate when hitting, it’s worth replacing your tennis strings consistently to make sure you can perform your best.

Reduce Shock

Maintaining a freshly strung racquet can help cut down on shock and therefore increase comfort.

Of course, if comfort is a top priority, you’ll want to be using an arm-friendly string. However, even the best strings for tennis elbow will lose their comfort factor over time.

Avoid Frustration

Most recreational players only have one tennis racquet. As a result, if you break a string, it’s likely going to prevent you from playing altogether or cut your playing time short.

There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up excited to play only to break your strings after your first few hits. Regularly restringing can help ensure you get to take advantage of every minute you set aside to play.

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String Replacement and the Different Types of Strings

When it comes to replacing your tennis strings, it’s important to note that different strings will do a better job of maintaining their tension over time. In some cases, you may hear this referred to as tension maintenance or playability duration.

Let’s take a quick look at the different types of tennis strings and how well they keep their tension. For reference, we’ve included examples of each string that are well-known for maintaining their tension.

Natural Gut

Natural gut strings are made from cow intestine and offer the highest level of tension maintenance. They’re also some of the most expensive.

Natural Gut Examples
Babolat VS Touch
WilsonNatural Gut

Synthetic Gut

Most commonly made from nylon, synthetic gut strings offer moderate maintenance of tension over time. These strings tend to be the most affordable group with a wide selection.

Synthetic Gut Examples
Prince Synthetic Gut
Gosen OG Sheep

Multifilament

Also made from nylon, multifilament strings seek to replicate natural gut in their construction and typically do a great job at keeping their tension. These strings offer comfort and feel at a reasonable price.

Multifilament Examples
Tecnifibre Multifeel
Babolat Xcel

Polyester

As the name suggests, these strings are made from polyester and are notorious for losing their tension fastest. However, their low-power and high spin potential make them some of the most popular on the market.

Polyester Examples
Yonex Poly Tour Spin G
Luxilon ALU Power Soft

Kevlar

Kevlar strings are made from highly durable aramid fibers and do an excellent job of maintaining tension. While these strings are great options for chronic string breakers, their lack of comfort makes them one of the least popular choices.

Kevlar Examples
Prince Pro Blend
Crossfire Plus

Here’s a chart to recap the differences.

String TypeTension Maintenence
Natural GutHigh
Synthetic GutMedium
MultifilamentMedium-High
PolyesterLow
KevlarHigh

For more options, check out our list of the best strings for 2020.

Outdated Rule of Thumb

Somewhere along the way, there was a general rule of thumb established that said you should replace your strings as many times per year as you play per week. Under this outdated rule, if you played three times per week, you’d restring your racquet three times per year.

For some players, such as a casual recreational player who isn’t competing, this may be a decent rule, but it can be misleading for those who hit the court regularly and take their performance seriously.

For many players, the general rule of thumb also breaks down in practicality, since most players don’t play the same amount of times every week. You might play twice one week, five times the next and not at all the following week.

As such, we’d recommend against using this method for determining when to restring your tennis racquet.

Restringing Factors to Consider

The frequency at which any given player strings their racquet is going to be different for everyone. However, there are a few factors you can keep in mind to help determine when it’s time to replace your strings:

  • Frequency and duration of play
  • Style of play
  • Level of competition
  • Budget
  • Personal preference
  • Comfort

Let’s dive into each separately.

Frequency & Duration of Play

While stringing your racquet as many times per year as you play per week rule can be misleading for many players, the concept of restringing based on your frequency is perfectly reasonable, i.e., the more frequently you play, the more you should restring.

If you’re looking for a general rule purely based on frequency, and you tend to play roughly the same amount each week, we’d recommend you take the number of times you play per week and double that number to find out approximately how many times per year you should string.

That means if you’re playing seven days a week, you should restring about once a month. Here’s a look at how that breaks down depending on how many days per week you play.

Play/WeekRestring/YearDaysMonths
121836.0
24913.0
36602.0
48451.5
510371.2
612301.0
714260.9

Based on our experience, that’s a more logical approach, but it’s still not perfect, and you end up with roughly the same recommendation if you’re playing five to seven days a week.

Moreover, if you’re playing seven days a week for 30 minutes vs. seven days a week for three hours, you’ll still have to make a judgment call on how fresh and consistent you want the tension of your strings.

With that in mind, let’s dive into some other factors to consider.

Style of Play

Another factor to consider is your style of play. If you hit soft with an eastern grip and you come to the net a lot, then you might not have to string your racquet as often because your strings won’t take as much of a beating.

On the other hand, if you’re a hard-hitting baseliner with a semi-western or western grip, then you might need to string your racquet more frequently since the friction and therefore wear of your strings will be significantly greater.

Level of Competition

As the stakes increase and you compete at a higher level, it becomes more critical to control the elements of your game that you can. Stringing is one of those elements, and it’s all about consistency.

When you practice and play matches, you’re going to want the tension of your racquet to be virtually the same every time, so you’re not compensating for the loss in tension.

Yes, you may want to vary the tension of your racquet depending on conditions or how you’re playing on a given day, but it becomes more important that you know what to expect from the tension change.

As such, restringing frequently tends to become more crucial at higher levels of competition, such as in professional tennis, where players often have their racquets strung after every use.

Budget

For most players, their budget is simply a fact of life. You may be hitting the court seven days a week for three hours a day, but if you can’t afford to restring your racquet frequently, then you’re not going to, and that’s perfectly fine. Of course, budgets will vary for every player, but it’s worth considering.

If budget is a concern, you may also want to consider the type of tennis strings that you’re using. Depending on the material, construction, and gauge of your strings, you can begin to reduce the frequency at which you’ll need to restring.

Comfort

If comfort is a top concern for you, then you should be restringing your racquet more frequently because dead strings result in more shock to your arm and can lead to injuries like tennis elbow or make an existing injury worse.

Personal Preference

If you’re playing tennis and learning for fun and your coach or instructor tells you that you should restring your racquet every other week, but you’re really not all concerned with the variation in tension, then wait until you’re ready to restring.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you, and knowing why you should restring and what happens if you don’t is half the battle.

How to Know When It’s Time to Change Strings

There are a few different things you can keep in mind to help you determine when it’s time to change your strings.

Visual Indicators

In some cases, it’s relatively easy to spot when it’s time to replace your strings by giving them a close look.

  • Notching: As you play tennis, your strings will rub together and produce friction, which causes the strings to notch. If you look closely, you’ll notice that notches form at the intersection of strings toward the middle of your racquet. If you see that these notches are getting deep, it’s likely a good time to rest.
  • Fraying: natural gut and multifilament strings are composed of tiny fibers that will fray over time. It’s a natural part of the wear for these strings, but it can be a great indicator of when you might want to consider restringing as it intensifies.

Keep in mind that polyester strings won’t fray because they feature a single solid filament construction.

Feel Indicators

As a beginner, some of these sensations will be difficult to detect. However, as you play more and your feel improves, you’ll get better at sensing these changes.

  • A Loss in Control: As your strings wear and lose tension, it can become more difficult to control the ball. It usually won’t be drastic, but if you’re finding yourself hitting just long, hitting more unforced errors or having difficulty placing the ball, then it might be time for you to restring.
  • Difficulty Generating Spin: As certain strings like polyester lose tension, there will be a reduction in the snapback of the main strings, which leads to the feeling that it’s harder to generate topspin. If you sense this feeling, and it’s been a while since your last string job, then you might be time for a new set.
  • Lack of Pop: when your strings are fresh, they’re also resilient, which means they can effectively return energy to the ball. As time goes on, your strings will lose their resilience, making it challenging to hit with as much power.

All in all, the feel of your strings will change over time, and their response will too. Each player might describe the change in the response of their strings differently, but as you begin to detect these changes, you’ll become more confident in knowing when to restring.

When in doubt, we’d encourage you to err on the side of restringing more frequently for optimal performance.

Tools for Restringing

If you’re looking to get a bit more scientific, then there are tools you can use to help measure when it’s time to change your strings. More specifically, you can use a relatively inexpensive string tension gauge.

Each gauge works by measuring the tension of your strings after your racquet is restrung to get a baseline. Then, you periodically take measurements, and when there has been roughly a 30% drop in tension, you’ll know it’s time to restring.

Here are a few popular models:

Restringing Tools
Pro’s Pro tension calibrator
Tourna string tension tester
Gamma string tension tester

It’s worth noting that you don’t measure the drop in tension based on the reference tension, i.e., the tension that you requested your stringer to use, as this will be higher from what a gauge measures after the stringing job is complete.

Another route you can take is to ask your local pro shop or look for one that can measure stringbed deflection with a machine like the Babolat racquet diagnostic center.

Similar to a using a gauge, by measuring stringbed deflection immediately after stringing, you can get a baseline for use in comparing your strings at a later date.

Cost of Restringing

The cost of restringing a tennis racquet varies based on the type of string you choose, and the labor charged. With this in mind, players can expect to spend anywhere between $15 to $65 to have their racquet restrung.

Price of Tennis strings

The price for a set of tennis strings ranges from just under $5 for an inexpensive synthetic gut, all the way up to nearly $45 for a high-end natural gut.

Some professional stringers will purchase a selection of tennis strings by the reel, i.e., in bulk, and will, therefore, be able to offer more competitive prices.

However, all stringers will happily string your racquet with a set of strings you provide, if they don’t carry one that you’d prefer.

Price for Labor

In most cases, the labor for restringing a tennis racquet will cost you between $10 – $20. However, some individuals who specialize in racquet stringing and care may command higher prices.

Where to Restring

Most of the time, your local tennis club or store will offer restringing services, and that’s where we’d recommend you start your search.

If not, you may find that coaches and instructors have machines and offer stringing services for their students, which is another excellent option.

Keep in mind that not all stringers area created equal. Some individuals will have specialized certifications like RacquetTech’s Master Racquet Technician designation, while others will string casually.

For the best result, find a stringer you can trust from a referral and stick with them to ensure you get a consistent string job each time. The person stringing, as well as how well their stringing machine is maintained, will impact the final result.

Wrapping Up

If you decide to take up tennis as a sport, it’s helpful to be aware that regularly restringing your racquet is a normal part of maintenance.

Early on, as you’re learning how to play, the frequency at which you restring will be less relevant as you develop proper skill and technique. However, as you improve and become more competitive, you’ll likely want to increase how often you string your racquet to maintain the highest level of performance.

How often do you restring your racquet? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Of course, if you have any questions, drop us a note – we’d be happy to help out.

Home > Gear > Racquets > Replacing Tennis Strings

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1 comment(s) need to be approved.
23 replies
  1. Michael Silver
    Michael Silver says:

    Another great way to determine if a string change is needed is to pull a few of crosses out of place. If the strings were “sticking” and there are gouges in the mains where the crosses were sitting, you may need to replace strings. This doesn’t work as well with poly’s as they don’t gouge as easy.

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Michael,

      You’re absolutely right – that’s a great test to check for signs of wear and tear. To your point, notches form pretty regularly with synthetic gut and multifilament strings, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the physical appearance of the strings along with how they feel.

      I appreciate your thoughts and taking the time to share them with the community.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  2. Daniel Zajic
    Daniel Zajic says:

    Thanks for writing this. There is one point I think you may have gotten wrong, however. Spin is easier, not harder, to produce the longer the ball is in contact with the strings. However, the speed at which the strings snap back into place goes down as they lose elasticity, so THAT is probably what reduces spin potential. Maybe in practice that matters more than the increase in string contact time, which may not change that much over a string’s lifetime. But it could be different for different strings, making it all even more complicated

    Reply
    • Daniel Zajic
      Daniel Zajic says:

      Actually, the reduced elasticity may also reduce contact time, even as tension drops, thereby further reducing spin potential.

      Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks so much for your insightful comment – I appreciate you taking the time to share! I can see how my wording could have been misleading, so I’ve adjusted to help clarify.

      I agree with your statement that as strings lose their resilience, they also lose their potential for spin, which is a feeling I’m sure many players can relate to and may warrant a restring.

      Hope to hear from you again sometime soon!

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  3. Sumit
    Sumit says:

    Hi, I’m taking a tennis elective class at uni and I play once a week. My racket is pretty good I guess (head racket) but lately I’ve been noticing that after hitting for some time some of the strings on the left side become a little crooked, as in they don’t stay straight all the time. Just go a little to the left or right. It’s not a big deviation but then I just straighten them with my fingers and keep playing. I don’t really find that I’m having trouble hitting shots or the strings are loose or anything. But I was just wondering if I would need to restring? Would that stop my strings from going crooked or not stay straight after hitting some hard shots?

    Thank you very much.

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Sumit,

      Fantastic question – string movement is typical for natural gut, synthetic gut, and multifilament tennis strings. Some strings will shift out of place more than others, but it’s common and not something that’s a great indicator for determining when to restring.

      Polyester strings, on the other hand, are slick and snap back into place, which is a quality that many players appreciate about them. As you’ve been doing, you can straighten them out by hand.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  4. Haadin64
    Haadin64 says:

    Sir I used to play with 58 tension Iam using babolat pure drive racket n Luxilon big banger original strings now Iam using 54 tension Iam a all round player what tension shall I keep please Iam using semi western grip I want control n power Tks

    Reply
  5. Erwan
    Erwan says:

    It might be useful to consider also the kind of string that was chosen. Monofilament string, for instance is known for loosing rather quickly its tension.

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi Erwan,

      I absolutely agree – that’s one of the areas I cover, and it can definitely have an impact.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply

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