Picking the right strings can be just as important as selecting the perfect tennis racket when you look to improve your game with new equipment, yet club players often neglect the significance of getting the combination right.
Tennis365 sat down with Dunlop racket adviser and top tennis coach Steve Smith, who gave us his expert view on what considerations need to be made when you select the best equipment ahead of your next big match.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT PICKING THE RIGHT RACKET?
It’s a tricky question to answer and the truth is it’s all a case of trial and error. First of all, you need to assess what weight feels right in your hand and they maybe get a coach who knows your game to have a hit with you and allow him to feel the pace the ball is coming through the court with two differently weighted rackets. If one is too heavy for you, it affects the quality of strike you get on the ball.
DO SOME PLAYERS MAKE A MISTAKE OF BUYING A RACKET WITHOUT SEEKING EXPERT ADVICE?
It is a common problem. What you need to do is go to your local club shop and have a chat with the professional before you pick your racket. Or if you have a coach who knows your game, he will give you advice on the best racket for you and then once you have picked a racket that feels right, go through the same process on getting the right strings.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR A CLUB PLAYER TO PICK THE MOST SUITABLE STRINGS IN THEIR RACKET?
Strings are a lot more important than most club players appreciate. I believe you can improve your game 100 per cent if you get strings that suit your game and a new grip can also make a racket feel very different, so getting those two areas right are just as important as picking the right racket.
Sometimes you don’t need to buy a new racket and you need to look at the strings you are using and whether they can be improved.
— Dunlop Tennis (@dunloptennis) August 9, 2019
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT STRINGS TO SUIT YOUR GAME?
You want a good feel of the ball on the strings and if you have not had your racket re-string for two years, there is a very good chance you will not be getting the most out of your shots. It can feel like you are playing with a flat board if the strings are not right and the difference when you make a change can be dramatic.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STRINGS ON THE MARKET, SO HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONE TO PICK?
Someone who hits the ball hard would maybe use a polyester string, which will be a bit harder wearing. They might be harder to play with for a lot of club players, but big hitters will use them as they will last longer and clubs players don’t want to change their strings too often if they can help it.
A player with a nice, elegant swing might look to get something with a bit more feel, which may be a fibre string. They don’t last as long, but they offer a better feel.
Then there is also the option of having a hybrid string. That would be half the strings being polyester and the cross strings would be a multifilament string that offers a little more spin, so a cross between the two. That gives you more control and durability, which is often the ideal option for a club player.
I have had players who say they are not enjoying playing with one of our Dunlop test rackets, but when I give them the same frame with different strings, it feels totally different.
WOULD YOU HAVE ONE TIP FOR CLUB PLAYERS ON STRING TENSION?
It is great to have a couple of rackets in your bag with different tensions. If you are playing a big hitter and you are looking to guide the ball back into court, you may want to have a racket with a little more control. Then on another day, if you feel like you are the player with the most power in a match, maybe you will look have a racket with slightly looser strings.
Rackets can lose tension very quickly and that is why we see professional players change them as often as they do. If you keep your racket in a cold garage, that will not be good for its performance and it would also lose tension on a plane journey so a good tip is string your racket a little tighter if you are going on a tennis holiday.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU GET A RACKET RE-STRUNG?
If you play twice a week, you need to change your strings at least three to four times as year. Between six and ten per cent of the tension will be lost in a racket in the first two weeks of using it when it is re-strung and yet many clubs players may not change their strings until they snap.
Steve Smith spoke to Tennis365 at Flitwick Tennis Club in Bedfordshire, with the new range of Dunlop rackets available here – https://topspinracquets.co.uk
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