Finding the Right Tension
When you’re stringing a racquet for the first time, it doesn’t have to be a guessing game. First, start with the tension range recommended by the racquet’s manufacturer.
You can typically find these numbers printed directly on the frame – check the inside of your tennis racquet’s throat or the inner edge of the frame’s head as a starting point. Manufacturers will test their racquets with real players to determine an appropriate range.
The best thing you can do the first time around when stringing a new racquet is splitting the difference and starting with a tension right in the middle of the manufacturer’s recommendation.
For example, if your racquet says the recommended string tension is 55 to 60 pounds, start with 58 pounds. Then, based on the racquet’s performance, you can adjust up or down to your preference.
It may take a few attempts to dial in your preferred tension, but if you start in the middle, you should be able to nail it down pretty quickly. If you have more than one racquet, you can have each strung at different tensions to compare them side-by-side.
It’s worth noting that there are no rules in tennis that specify acceptable tension ranges. Instead, this is entirely up to the player to determine based on personal preference.
As you work to find the right string tension, we recommend that you stick with the same string as you make adjustments.
Different types of strings can have a dramatically different feel and performance at various tensions. Therefore, it’s best to stick with a single string until you find a tension you enjoy.
If you eventually move to a new string, you may need to adjust to your tension to accommodate the change.
Testing with Two Racquets
If you have two of the same racquet, I’d recommend you string them both fresh at different tensions so you can compare how they feel in real-time.
Of course, if you don’t have two of the same racquets, you can test two different tensions back to back. However, I’d encourage you to restring with the new tension sooner than you might typically restring, i.e., after one or two weeks of hitting with one tension, cut the strings out and switch to the new tension so that you can get the closest possible comparison.
Word of Caution
Often, players looking for more control or power will attempt to adjust their string tension to achieve a more pronounced effect. However, while it’s correct that tension will change these variables, there’s a diminishing return on overall performance. As a result, you’ll likely end up with adverse side effects, so it’s worth evaluating other factors.
For instance, a player would benefit from improving their technique, fitness, and selection of string or racquet to substantially increase control or power.
With that said, you should think of string tension as more as a fine-tuning mechanism to get the most out of your racquet, string, and, more importantly, the talent that you’ve developed through practice.