Tennis String Terms

Tension: It is the application of force to the strings by a machine.

Elasticity: It is the ability of a string to come back to its original position after ball contact. Over time, string loses tension and elasticity. Natural strings are supposed to have the most elasticity.

Gauge: The diameter of a string commonly expressed in millimeters or gauge number. The higher the gauge number, thinner the string and vice-versa.

Main strings: They are the ones that run vertically from the head to the throat of the racquet. Most of the racquets playability is provided by the main strings.

Cross strings: They are the ones that run horizontally across the width of the racquet head. Cross strings play more of a supporting role to the main strings.

Hybrid: Hybrid stringing is a technique of using one type of string for the main and another type for the cross strings of your racquet. It offers a balance between power, durability, control, and feel. The most popular hybrid combination is polyester on the mains (verticals) for durability & control and a synthetic or multifilament string on the crosses (horizontal) for feel.

Natural Gut – As the name suggests, this is a natural product made from the gut of animals. This type of string is still favored by the purists for its optimum mix of power, control and spin. It is, however, the most expensive and least durable of all the strings. It is also susceptible to extremes in temperature and is especially liable to break under damp or wet conditions. There is no man-made string exactly like natural gut but some of the multifilament strings come close.

Synthetic Gut –These are an extension (and improvement) on nylon strings to compensate for the lack of durability from natural gut. The majority of factory strung rackets are strung with synthetic guts and are a good choice for most people. They give a good mixture of power and control with a “crisp feel and sound”. They do not offer much potential for spin, however, unless you choose a “textured or spin” type synthetic gut string. Synthetic strings are good on their own or in combination with more durable kevlars and polyesters.

Multifilaments – These are the best examples of using technology to replicate a product that has been successful over a number of years (natural gut). Thin strands are wound around (just like natural gut) to create different variations of spin, power, control and durability. Multifilaments are a good choice for the majority of players as they offer the optimum mixture of playability and durability. They are not as durable as the polyesters but are definitely better on the arm. In fact, for anyone suffering from tennis elbow or any kind of arm problems, multifilaments are the best thing to go for.

Polyesters – Polyester is a durable fiber with a thin coating, and is best for players who tend to break strings more frequently. Compared to other synthetic materials, polyester is very firm and difficult to snap. Polyester generates more topspin than other strings because they don’t slide around during contact with the ball. Many professional players have a high preference for polyester strings because of its ability to generate huge amounts of topspin.