We hear it all the time at our tennis store.
“I want more power, so make the strings tighter:”
The problem with that is that tighter strings do not make for more power. I know what some of you are thinking, “(insert pro’s name here) strings with really tight strings, and he hits hard”.
It is not the strings. The person in question already hit the ball with plenty of power, no matter the string tension. Often times, those players string tight for more control, not power.
Here’s a good way of explaining it.
Think of someone standing at the top of a ladder. They drop a bowling ball onto the floor. They repeat the drop, only this time onto a bed.
Which ball bounced higher? Most likely, the one dropped on the bed. Imagine the same test using a trampoline. Bringing it all back to your tennis racket, the more the strings can give (think trampoline), the more energy they will return to the ball. More energy to the ball, more depth, and power on the shots.
There are two ways to increase power and depth. String tension and string type.
String type - the more elastic a string is, the more it will give and return that energy to the ball. This will make hitting the ball deep with less effort easier to do, not to mention that all that give in the string absorbs shock. Players with arm issues will reap the benefits of the reduced shock and added comfort on their arm. The additional give in the string can also increase spin potential.
String tension - A current trend on the tour is the use of a stiff string, strung at a low tension (sometimes as low as 40lbs). This allows for more give in the string, more spin potential, and more power and depth. Reducing the tension on stiff, poly strings can also reduce shock at impact. Some players like the more elastic strings at a slightly higher tension. Tension is the way to fine tune the right string to your needs.
Now, what is the right combination for you?
If power is the main concern, a softer, multifilament string will be a very good way to go. Many players moving from a poly string notice the difference right away in added depth and comfort.
For those who need durability due to strings breakage, a poly string at a lower tension would be a good start. Going all the way down to 40lbs is probably not the way to start, but dropping tension 5lbs or so should be noticeable. There are also poly strings that are softer than others, offering added power and comfort.
Something to keep in mind. As with so many things, there is a balance that must be found. Power and depth are only a good thing up to the point you're hitting too many shots long. There is going to be some trial and error, but usually, a balance can be found between string type and the right tension for you and the string you're using.
One last thing...
If you are in need of power, fresh strings are required. Over time, strings will lose their ability to return energy to the ball. The more you play, the quicker it will lose that ability. A good rule of thumb is to restring as many times in a year as you play in a week. The harder you hit, you may want to increase the frequency of restringing.
Even strings that haven't been used much will lose their pop. After about a year, the difference will be noticeable.
Stop into our store and we can help you select the string and tension that best fits YOUR game and needs. We can see what you have in your racket now and with a few questions, give you some options that will have you hitting the ball with more pop and depth.