A painter wouldn’t start slapping his paint around with a cheap brush from the local DIY store. A violinist wouldn’t stick a few bits of twine on their instrument and try to knock out a classical concerto.
As a tennis player, you are no less of an artist and you should not step out onto the court unless you armed with a quality racquet.
One element of that is the strings you choose.
Some racquets come unstrung and you will need to decide which are the best tennis strings to get the most out of your game. For better or for worse, your choice of tennis string will affect the kind of game that you play.
Due to the numerous types and variations of different strings on the market, it can be difficult to find the ideal tennis string that suits your style of play. Here at TRC we are incredibly nice and helpful guys and we have put together a guide that highlights the top 6 tennis strings available looking at different materials and the pros and cons of each. Read the reviews to help you choose.
Read on to discover the secrets of string theory…
Tennis Strings for 2020 Compared
The Top 6
Best Multifilament Strings:
As stated previously, Multifilament tennis strings contain thousands of small microfibers that are woven together to construct a single string.
The main advantage of these tennis strings is that they provide premium playability as well as exceptional comfort and string tension. So if you are someone who is recovering from an injury, then it’s likely that you will appreciate the added comfort and security that Multifilament tennis strings can offer you.
There is no shortage of multifilament tennis strings on offer. However, Wilson NXT are widely considered the best multifilament strings on the market today, earning its number one spot on our list.
You can see some of the reasons why the WilsonNXT are a good choice below:
The NXT tennis strings by Wilson are hard-hitting, which is due to the combined effort of 1,600 individual microfibers. The power you get from the NXT strings is strong, but not overwhelming. As a result, many users will find that the extra power is a welcome enhancement to their game without the fear of over hitting the ball.
Wilson NXT is also known for its comfort. The rich string tension that can be found in the Wilson NXT makes it easy on your arms when hitting the ball, without trading the responsiveness and playability that good players demand in a tennis string.
Overall, Wilson NXT are considered the best overall multifilament strings and fantastic tennis strings in general. The strings deliver a solid, balanced playing style that can accommodate a variety of play styles and skill levels.
The only complaint that the NXT earned was due to its durability. Through extended use, you may see the strings wearing out faster than some of the sturdier models. To compensate for this, you can always purchase the Wilson NXT in heavier gauges as this can extend the string’s play time by more than 50%.
Best Polyester (Poly) Strings:
Luxilon ALU Power
Within the last decade or so, Polyester tennis strings have made leaps and bounds in terms of their popularity. Famous players such as Rafael Nadal have taken credit for popularizing this tennis string type, redefining our expectations of what’s possible with topspin.
The difference between Polyester tennis strings and other options is that Polyester strings contain a single filament instead of smaller microfibers.
Polyester tennis strings are the choice for many players as polyester is known for delivering a balanced mix of durability, control and spin.
There are some downsides to polyester tennis strings. Due to the solid construction of polyester strings, they can be harder on your arms when attempting to make powerful plays, which can be uncomfortable, and even lead to injuries over the long term.
The most recommended Polyester tennis strings for this season is Luxilon ALU power. ALU Power strings have seen use on the international stage, appearing in the ATP and WTA tour.
So what makes the Luxilon one of our top choices?
The Luxilon tennis strings deliver an enormous amount of control, without skimping too much on power, which can be a drawback of polyester tennis strings.
Intermediate and advanced players will like the fact that you can take big swings at the ball in a controlled fashion.
The spin of the ALU power strings is arguably its strongest selling point. The lower power of the strings allows you to accelerate their racquet head faster for added spin.
Luxilon ALU tennis strings are sturdy and durable, which is common for polyester strings.
The Luxilon ALU Power strings stand out because the strings are hard to break and also do a great job at maintaining tension, which helps to increase the string’s play life.
Best Synthetic Gut Strings:
Prince Synthetic Gut Tennis Strings
If you are buying tennis strings on the lower end of the pricing spectrum, you can still buy quality strings without the higher priced tag that is associated with natural gut, multifilament, and polyester strings.
Synthetic gut tennis strings are an economical choice while being fairly well-rounded in terms of durability, responsiveness, and power. Although you do sacrifice on some of the added features that come with other types.
Synthetic gut tennis strings are seen as more durable than other tennis string types, which again makes the strings an affordable option because they will last the distance.
The best synthetic gut strings to purchase are the Prince Synthetic Gut. These strings provide durability and comfort at a competitive price.
While you won’t get some of the more premium features associated with other brands, you should find that Synthetic gut strings are high performers for their price point.
Best Hybrid Strings:
Wilson Champions Choice Tennis Strings
One of the problems that many players face is tossing up between the pros and cons of different tennis string types. An example of this is that many players find that multifilament strings to be too powerful, and also lack spin, while polyester strings can be particularly harsh on the user’s arm.
To find a middle ground between strength and flexibility, many players combine different string types into one.
The most popular hybrid string pattern can is found in the Wilson Champions choice.
Babolat RPM Blast Tennis Strings
Popular players such as Rafel Nadal have done their job in popularizing the Babolat RPM Blast, as these tennis strings are known to generate massive topspin on a serve.
If you are looking to imitate the playing style of some of the greats, there is no doubt that polyester tennis strings make for a fantastic choice. The slick surface of the strings and its ability to snap back into place makes for a dynamic combination to help you dominate the courts.
The Babolat RPM Blast stands out as one of the best strings on the market. The unique octagonal shape of the strings helps to capture the ball for maximum spin potential, while the polyester surface snaps the ball back into place.
The most remarkable feature of these Babolat tennis strings is that they are surprisingly easy to play with, which means they can take anyone’s topspin to the next level.
For Comfort / Injury:
Prince Premier Touch Tennis Strings
If you are recovering from a common tennis injury such as tennis elbow, you will know how painful and debilitating it can be to your game.
The good news is that manufacturers have developed products that aim to reduce the likelihood of injury, which is done by minimizing harmful string vibration.
The strings that provide next-level comfort are the multifilament Prince Premier touch. These soft strings have a construction that minimizes string vibration, as well as providing optimal power and control.
Different Types Explained
The type of string you choose will have a huge impact on your game and there is a wealth of products to choose from when it comes to selecting your tennis strings. Aside from price, you can choose from different tensions, materials, and brands and each different type of tennis string will help shape the kind of tennis game that you play.
Below you can find the most common and popular tennis string types, as well as their relative strengths and weaknesses.
Natural gut tennis strings are a very popular choice. They are literally made from the strands of certain animals’ intestines, which help to make them some of the most expensive on the market. Many professional and club players choose the Natural Gut strings due to their flexibility and resilience, although they can be sensitive to water, so make sure you keep the strings out of the rain.
Multifilament strings are a combination of numerous individual string filaments braised into one. As such, they generally produce more power and comfort than synthetic or gut strings. These tennis strings are designed to be perfect for players who are recovering from arm injuries. Multifilament strings give you all the power that Natural Gut strings provide but without the higher price tag.
Monofilament strings are more durable than the synthetic or multifilament variants, even if the strings are using the same material. Although they are more durable, they can lack the power, feel, and comfort of the more premium solutions on the market. The most common Monofilament strings are made from polyester, as this material is long-lasting and provides a great amount of control and spin. To get the most out of these strings, you should play with full, faster swings to maximize their performance.
Nylon / Synthetic Gut
Synthetic gut strings are the most affordable of all. The strings are nylon-based but with a solid monofilament core. The unique construction of these strings improves the tension of the strings, while also improving the feel and playability. Synthetic Gut strings have enjoyed many improvements to its performance and construction over the last few years, providing an inexpensive solution to tennis players of various levels but most suited to beginners to intermediate players.
Hybrid tennis strings are the result of combining different types and gauges of a single string. Although rare, Hybrid strings have started to be considered very highly recently due to the introduction of polyester-based strings. Polyester strings are known to be extremely powerful yet a little stiff, so many players opt to combine the polyester with something more flexible, such as synthetic or gut strings to make for a more balanced string bed.
These strings are crafted from highly durable, heat-resistant synthetic fiber. They’re made from the same reinforcing agent that’s used in the production of tires and other rubber products, which has led to them being named ‘the most durable tennis string on the market’.
Typically, Kevlar tennis strings are combined with synthetic gut. The strings are very rigid and offer excellent spin potential, although their stiffness can be a negative for some players as playing with such strings increases the tension on your arm, which doesn’t work for everyone. However, if you play with extreme power and often break strings, Kevlar may be ideal for you as it’s difficult to break, reducing your expenditure on strings. Also, these strings will not require you to change how you play.
Not convinced why choosing your strings carefully is important? Let Babolat’s expert convince you in this informative YouTube video.
What to look for when making your choice
There are various features to look for when choosing tennis strings to ensure they benefit you, but playability and durability are possible the two most important factors.
Features to look for when looking for strings with excellent playability include:
- How quickly the string snaps back upon ball impact: A string that’s considered ‘playable’ should snap back almost instantly upon ball impact, ensuring that your play isn’t compromised for the next shot.
- How the string is made: What the string is made from, how it’s constructed, and the thickness of the string all affect how playable the string is; each string type has different characteristics, so it’s usually best to try out a few to see which is the most effective for your style of play.
Natural gut strings, which are made from beef intestines, are still considered the great for playability. Right behind them are multifilament strings, which are more durable than natural gut.
Features to look for when buy strings with optimum durability include:
- Thickness: The thicker the gauge of string you have, the more durable it will be.
- Material: Abrasion-resistant materials such as Kevlar are more durable than natural gut and nylon strings, for example. However, they also have less elasticity.
- Power: If you’re always breaking strings, before switching up your strings entirely, dry switching to a lower gauge. For example, if you’re always breaking your 16-gauge strings, try 15 gauge instead.
Strings made from polyester or Kevlar are usually the best for durability, ensuring your tennis strings last.
How can I compromise?
As with everything, compromise is always required, even in tennis. You can’t have playable strings that are also highly durable, and you can’t have durable strings that have all the benefits of the most playable strings, either. That’s why you need to compromise and choose the ideal tennis strings for your specific needs.
Typically, synthetic and soft polyester strings are a fantastic in-between string if you’re not sure which you’d prefer or need. They are both somewhat durable and also highly playable, offering you a balance of flexibility, spin, snapback, and quality.
If your play style is all about power, soft polyester strings are a good bet; they provide the power and durability of polyester strings but without the harshness on your arm.
You can also pair two types of strings together, such as Kevlar and poly. Here’s a quick tutorial for how to weave poly strings through Kevlar for maximum effect:
Tennis strings come in a variety of thicknesses, also known as the gauge. They range from 15 gauge, which is the thickest, to 18 gauge, which is the thinnest. You can also get half-gauge strings which manufacturers mark with an ‘L’, which means ‘light’. You can get ‘light’ strings for all gauges, 15 through 18.
Here’s a rundown of the different gauge types and how they differ:
- 15 gauge:35mm thick and the standard for tennis
- 16 gauge:30mm thick and offer the best balance of durability and power; the most popular for both hobbyists and professionals
- 17 gauge:25mm thick, which is thinner than usual for tennis and therefore typically used for squash instead, which requires a thinner string
- 18 gauge:20 thick, which is the thinnest and will break easily during standard tennis play
If you’re a tennis beginner, try out both 15 and 16 gauge to see how you get on. For most tennis players, they’re suitable for everyday play.
For more information on string gauges, watch Top Speed Tennis’s guide to string gauge on YouTube, in which they discuss how string gauge affects spin and power.
How tension affects your play
It’s not just the material or gauge of your string you need to worry about, but also the tension. Like when you tune a guitar, how tight the strings are will change how you use the instrument or the racquet in this case you are choosing between more power with a lower tension or more control with a higher tension.
Every racquet you buy has its own ‘suggested tension’, just check the packaging and look for the ‘technical specification’ box. Most racquets will state ‘mid-tension’ as their optimum tension; however, many professionals believe that adding a pound (lb) or two to the suggested tension is best, as most racquets lose tension rapidly.
If you’re not sure how find out how to change the tension of your tennis strings before proceeding.
Once you’ve set the tension of your racquet, you need to try it out. Get on the court and see how you fair. If you feel that your arm is taking the brunt of your play, you need to loosen your strings. However, if your strings are failing to bounce back very quickly, which is also why you need to choose the right material, you may need to tighten your strings so that the racquet has a firmer body.
The higher the tension, the more control you have; however, this also means less power. If you lower the tension, you will have more power but less control, which means your accuracy will take a hit.
Some strings, like polyester, have no flexibility, or ‘give’, in them, which means you should reduce the tension to ensure you don’t damage your arm. Generally, we recommend loosening the strings by up to 10% depending on how you play.
The effect of weather
There are a few ways in which the weather and temperature may affect your tennis strings, including:
In cold weather or when playing with dry air, such as in Northern Europe, your tennis strings will be adversely affected. For example, when playing in temperatures less than 10 degree Celsius, your strings will stiffen. In this case, most professionals recommend scaling up your tension to 2-3lbs to make up for the change.
You should protect your racquet from high temperatures to prevent lasting damage. Like water, when they warm up, your tennis strings expand. If you frequently play in hot temperatures, your strings may expand beyond reverse, which means you’ll then need to re-string.
It’s good practice to avoid leaving your racquet in your car or other hot areas when it’s not being used to ensure it retains its durability.
Find out more about how your tennis strings may be affected by temperature and weather in this research conducted by Lindsey Crawford at the University of Sydney, Australia.
There we have it, the top 6 best tennis strings of 2020. If you are still unsure about what strings are right for you, then you are encouraged to check into your nearest sports center. Most sports stores will have racquets and strings that you can use at no cost or obligation to you. By experimenting with different string types, you can get a first-hand experience of the different racquets and how they can fit into your play style.
As always, your choice of strings will be determined by your expectations, requirements, and point of view. For this reason, it can be hard to say for sure what tennis string will be the best overall option for you. You are encouraged to do your own research about the different models available, even though we have done our best to deliver the best strings that are on the market today.
And remember, your choice of tennis stings can make you a better player, so choose wisely!