During the past several months a major epiphany has come to light. I have been guilty, very guilty of stringing poly-based strings at a level of tension at which they can not offer optimal performance. I have done this on my own racquets as well as the racquets of hundreds of customers. It is only after a journey of personal discovery that I have been able to accept what key figures have been telling me for years. Poly-based strings perform best at low tensions. Really it’s just that simple. I was too stubborn, close-minded, egotistical, and mule-headed to open myself to that possibility. Finally I have. The epiphany, though much time in the making, is powerful and will definitely change the way I service customers and do business in the coming year.
Today I sit here shaking my head and wondering how many out there are like me? How many are not open to stringing racquets at tension levels below the manufacturers range? How many would never consider using poly-based strings strung in the 40’s and/or low 50’s? I suspect there are many. And I want to help them. I want to reform them. I want to empower them to go to places where they never dreamed they could go. I desperately want to spread the gospel of lower tensions being essential to get the most out of poly-based strings.
In the USA high tensions have been preferred for years. In fact, high tensions are king! However, these tensions were used for natural gut and synthetic gut setups. The new poly-based strings are differently constructed. Essentially they represent a new paradigm for tennis players and racquet stringers. A paradigm that requires a shift in thinking about how we string racquets in order to get the optimal performance from the string and the frame.
For years Mauve Sports has advised for optimal performance string no higher than 52 mains and 48 crosses. WeissCANNON is always stressing to drop tension on their poly-based offerings. Did I heed the advice? No. In fact, I discarded it because I was unknowingly trapped on the high tension paradigm of the USA. Did the strings perform acceptably at high tensions. I believed they did. However, today I believe differently. While they were serviceable at these tensions, they were greatly inhibited. The difference in performance, liveliness, spin, control and comfort is astounding. I doubt I will ever return to playing poly-based strings at higher tensions. I know I will do my best show my local customers the advantages of a tension change and I hope I can convince readers of this blog to do the same.
Properly strung, poly-based strings can offer playing characteristics that are unmatched by any other type of string. Properly strung, they can be arm friendly for the vast majority of players, including older players and juniors. It is essential that they be strung properly. Do not procrastinate. Heed this call to action and make the change. You will not be sorry.
Overstretching poly-based strings, stringing beyond the mid 50’s, removes the life from the string. It kills it. Those who are in my former place will argue that lower tensions will result in loss of control. One would think this to be the case. It is 100% logical. It makes perfect sense. The only problem is that it is faulty thinking. In reality it is not the case.
Lower tensions actually result in more spin and control. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around, but it is true! This is not too say that everyone should be stringing their racquets at the exact same tension, but starting in the upper 40’s/low 50’s should be a good starting point for most.
John Elliot, who has influenced my thinking on this topic, makes the following suggestion. When first using poly-based strings at lower tensions, focus on hitting the ball over the net at a maximum height of 2 – 3 feet. Swing hard. Have fun. Do this for 20 – 30 minutes to adjust yourself to the new tension. You will be amazed at the results. From here if the ball tends to be landing too short or too long, note by how much. For every three feet too long, increase tension 2 lbs. For every 3 feet too short, decrease tension 2 pounds.
There is so much more to write on this fascinating topic, but this seems like a logical stopping point. This blog entry is a call for action. A call for self-reflection. A call for change. If you are stringing your poly-based strings above 55 pounds you are not likely getting the full benefit of the string. Please, please please, lower the tension. Give it an honest try. I would bet that most of you who do will be like me and NEVER go back to stringing poly-based strings at high tensions. They are special and magical at lower tensions, and just average or below when the life is stretched out of them. Why not play with them at optimal performance? It is more fun, more comfortable and will most likely result in more victories.