This blog is meant as a follow-up for our immensely popular posting on March 17 where we discussed the optimal method for stringing poly-based strings. That particular entry has generated much discussion and many of our readers have been open to trying the suggested method and have reported success. (Congratulations and thank you for reporting back!) Unfortunately we have also had reports of some who have attempted the method without the desired results. This entry attempts to address some issues that may arise when stringing full co-poly setups at lower tensions.
One key element to keep in mind is that there is going to be an adjustment period for those using this method. Keeping a positive and open mind is absolutely essential. It is also vital for you to give change a chance. Unfortunately this sometimes takes more time than our “instant gratification” society prefers.
Remember, the racquet is going to feel different. The sensations will be new and some adjustments may have to be made. Going from co-polys at high tensions to low tensions offers significant differences and it is not reasonable to assume that within 10 minutes you are going to adjust perfectly. We have known players who adjust in as little as 10 minutes, but for some (usually older, more established players) the adjustment can take several hitting sessions. The sensations are remarkably different. Specifically the level of comfort, ease of power, access to spin on command and controlled depth of shot.
Many players who have been playing with polys at high tensions are routinely hitting the ball so that it clears the net at astonishing heights. It is not uncommon to see baseline rallies clearing the net by 6 -10 feet with heavy spin in order to drop it in and keep it deep. The energy this type of tennis demands over the course of a match is quite high.
Stringing full polys at lower tensions allows the player to hit the ball so that it clears the net lower. The depth is maintained, but the effect of the shot is amplified. It gets to the opponent much quicker, reducing his/her reaction time. It also takes less energy to achieve more effective shots – – another huge advantage.
When playing full polys at low tensions your chief objective in hitting groundstrokes is focusing on the height at which the ball clears the net. If you are clearing the net at a height of no more than 2′ – 3′ you are exactly where you want to be. This is the ideal clearance height and is really where the vast majority of your attention needs to be placed when adjusting to full polys at low tensions.
We have gone so far as to create a training aid to use with locals. It is constructed of two pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe, red yarn and velcro straps. Each PVC pipe is 6′ 6″ so that is rises 3′ over the net. The top 3′ of each piece have been painted red. The velcro straps are used to lash the pipes to the net posts. The red yarn is then used to connect the two posts creating a “RED ZONE” in which players are instructed to hit. We have found that players will report clearing the net at no more than 3′, but once the training aid is implemented some are amazed to see that they are actually clearing the net at 1′ – 3′ over the aid.
Once players begin to get the feel of keeping the ball in the red zone, they immediately begin to experience the true benefits of low tension co-polys. Many begin hitting worry free because with co-polys at low tensions they can swing freely and be confident that their shots are going to land in the court.
The next issue becomes fine tuning. Players need to pay attention to where the shots are landing when the ball is clearing the net in the red zone. (Again, no more than 2′ – 3′ in height). If the ball is not realizing the desired depth we suggest using the following formula to adjust the tension. To increase ball length reduce 2 pounds of tension for every yard (3 feet) of added length. If shots are too long, the reverse formula should be applied; increase tension 2 pounds for every yard you want to bring the shot in. These are guidelines that tend to be remarkably accurate in adjusting the tension to achieve desired ball length.
Some additional thoughts…
1. We noted one player who had difficulty with WeissCANNON TurboTwist at lower tensions. While we have not playtested this string at lower tensions, we do think it important to note that due to the elasticity/construction of that unique string, it is suggested by the manufacturer that it be strung at tensions comparable to synthetic guts. We are not yet sure of how it performs at low tensions. We’ve heard from one person and would be anxious to hear from others as well. Bottom line is the stringing method is effective for the vast majority of copolys, but not all.
2. The stringing method we described in the earlier post is a cliff notes version of a more complicated method. Even so, that version will take some practice in order to get it to nailed down and consistent. Using it will definitely create better playing stringbeds with significantly increased stability, however, the polys can still lose playing properties so length of shot will have to be monitored as tension maintenance fades. As the stringer becomes more proficient with the method/practice, the performance for the player will extend.
3. Please continue to check back with our blog. We expect to have a major announcement about the launch of a new string brand very soon. This brand will hold properties exceptionally well and is SPECIFICALLY designed to be strung/played and used at low tensions. It is an amazing product and dealers will have the opportunity to be trained and certified in the intricacies of the optimal stringing method.