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How Often Should You Restring Your Tennis Racquet?

When is it time to change your tennis strings? Are there any hard and fast rules to follow?

Ask any racquet stringer or tennis shop owner what the most common question they get asked every day is, and many of them will tell you it's “Do I need my racquet restrung?” “When do I know it's time for a restring?”

Despite this being widely asked, it's also something that not a lot of players ever even think about.

I know players at the clubs I've played at that have kept the same string job for years, and a fresh restring is only ever considered if a string were to break.

However, strings wear down from play relatively quickly and subsequently lose their elasticity and ability to hold tension.

If you leave them too long, it can negatively affect your game. Let's take a more in-depth look at why and when you should change your tennis strings.

Why Should You Change Your Tennis Strings?

Broken String

Aside from breaking a string being the obvious reason to get your racquet restrung, there are two other main drivers of why it's time to cut and the strings and put some fresh ones in.

Tension Loss

All tennis strings will lose tension over time. They begin to lose tension as soon as they leave the stringing machine.

Depending on the type of string, in the first 24 hours after stringing, strings can lose roughly 10 per cent of their tension, and this continues when you play with the racquet.

If you are a player that relies on higher tension for control and find that your accuracy of shot is reduced over time, then you'll need to restring to regain that element of your game.

String Type Tension Maintenence
Natural Gut Very Good
Synthetic Gut Good
Multifilament Average to Good
Polyester Poor
Kevlar Very Good

String Performance

As well as losing tension, strings eventually go dead. This causes them to lose their performance characteristics, which most likely the reason you chose to string with them in the first place.

This is particularly true for polyester strings as they will lose their snapback effect, which is a big part of how they help players generate topspin.

How to Know When It's Time to Change Strings

natural gut downsides

Visual Indicators

Most advanced players will know it's time to restring purely through feel, but there are a couple of visual things to look for.

Notching

When you make contact with the ball, your strings will rub together and produce friction, which causes the strings to notch.

If you look closely, you'll see grooves form where the main and cross strings intersect. This will be more evident towards the upper middle of your racquet, which is hopefully the area you make contact with the ball most!

If you see that these notches are close to breaking the string, or even just getting quite deep, it is likely an excellent time to restring.

Fraying

Natural gut and multifilament strings are composed of lots of tiny fibres that are intertwined. When they are freshly strung, they often have a coating on to protect them, but once this wears off, the fibres will start to fray.

This is a natural part of the wear for these types of strings, so some fraying is perfectly normal. Fraying can also be exacerbated by humidity and moisture.

However, beyond a certain point, the fraying will reduce the gauge of the string to the point it will break. So if you see fibres fraying at all angles and the string looks weakened, restringing is probably the right choice.

Feel Indicators

For players just starting out, it's unlikely you will be able to detect subtle changes in feel on the stringbed. But as you develop your technique and your feel improves, you'll start to notice changes in how the string plays over time.

A Loss in Control

When strings lose tension, the ball spends more time on the string bed, which can lessen your control. A loss in tension can mean you will find yourself hitting just long, making more unforced errors or having difficulty placing the ball. If so, it might be time for you to restring.

Less Topspin

When polyester strings lose tension, there is a reduction in the snapback of the strings, which means you have to swing harder to generate the same amount of topspin as you would on a freshly strung racquet. Polyester strings also develop dead spots, which causes an erratic response.

If you find yourself hitting with less spin and you have to straighten your strings after every point, then it's probably time to restring.

So How Often Should You Restring?

Tennis Racquet String Tension

The reason for writing this post is due to the following question received via email. Below that is my answer, adapted slightly into a more general one.

Hi, do you have a general recommendation for frequency of restringing? I play 3 or 4 times a week, recreational mainly, but weekend doubles matches during the summer. I wouldn’t call myself an aggressive baseliner but more a touch player using a reasonable pace and placement more than pure power. Currently, I have Prince synthetic gut string at 53lb, in a Yonex DR 100, six months since last restring. I quite like this string but wonder if that’s a little loose and I might be losing some control. Any thoughts?

When it comes to racquet restringing, there's a general rule of thumb that most players are familiar with which is:

Over a year, you should restring your racquet the number of times you play in a week.

So if you play four times a week, then restring you racquet four times a year.

If you have not had a fresh string bed in six months, then I would say it's time to freshen things up.

Even if they look visually fine, the loss of tension and elasticity over time will have decreased the playability of the string.

For most players, this concept of stringing as many times per year as you play per week is not a bad rule to follow. Especially for recreational players who string with a synthetic gut and aren't hitting a huge ball.

However, the problem is that it's a rather broad blanket and can't be applied to all types of players or all kinds of string.

While the time you spend on the court is a significant factor, other considerations will determine the rate at which players get their racquets restrung.

This only applies to non-string breakers as they have no choice but to restring as soon as a string pops, but factors include:

  • Frequency and duration of play
  • Style of play
  • Level of competition
  • Budget
  • String choice
  • Comfort

Aggressive ball-strikers with full, heavy topspin strokes will wear through strings much faster than flat-hitting doubles specialists with abbreviated swings and touch play.

For most players, a visual test is more suitable than abiding by a restringing calendar. My rule is based on both a visual look at the strings and how they play.

If visually they look fine, but you play poorly in a match? Ok, it happens. Play the next match and the one after that badly? It's probably time for a restring. Even if the strings were fine, you're at least resetting psychologically 🙂

What about Polyester Restringing Frequency?

Polyester strings are a tricky one to follow, and there's no real calendar rule to follow. Generally speaking, while polyester strings are hard to break for most club players, they go dead after 10 to 20 hours of play.

Not only that, but they also break down unevenly, which creates dead spots in the string bed, which can lead to erratic performance. However, because they don't break, players often keep them in their frames for too long.

For this reason, it's's often recommended replacing polys every couple of months at a minimum to restore playability and reduce the risk of arm related injuries from having to swing harder to get the same amount of pace.

Final Thoughts

String Tension Choice

Ultimately, like most things to do with tennis racquets, restringing does boil down to personal preference and how the individual player feels about a racquet's performance.

Many players love to play with a freshly strung racquet; others enjoy them more after a break-in period, and some even like strings when they are completely dead.

I like a racquet pretty much just after it's freshly strung, so I usually restring my racquets before a more meaningful match.

Or if I know I'm playing a few times in the coming week, I'll bump up the tension, so when it comes to the second or third hit, the tension is somewhere around what it would be if it were fresh off the stringing machine at my desired tension.

From there, it's all about keeping tabs on your play throughout the life of the string job. Do I have to swing harder to create pace and spin? Are the strings biting the ball, or do I have to readjust them after every point? Is shot placement and predictability starting to go awry?

Usually, when these questions enter your mind across 2 or 3 hitting sessions or matches, it is time to restring, and that's the rule I follow.

Depending on the strings and your playing frequency, this can take as little as a week, or as long as a few months.

So while it's not an exact science, I think it's best to replace strings too early rather than too late. And so does your club stringer or local tennis shop 😀

How often do you restring your racquet? Let me know in the comments below

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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18 Comments

  1. Your research is quite complete, Jonathan. Like all others about the gear.
    My feeling is, if I should follow all rules with scientific background, I would not have time to play anymore and I would lose the fun 😉
    So I’m using just very simple practical rule. If I feel, I’m losing comfort/fun, first thing I do, I restring the racket. If last string set was used quite long, I’m looking first for what’s new on the market or what’s Thiem’s newest string. And when starting with new strings, I always let the old strings stays on one of my 2 rackets, so I can play alternating both and see, if I really feel a difference.

      1. Gauge 125 mm, tension 25 kg. Grip 2,5″. I would expect more from him, I use 3″. Frame (Pure Strike) i s highly customized (weight, balance and swingweight).
        Maybe all these changes were necessary for his now more versatile game.
        Since he could start to train in the lockdown (with father. not with Massú. of course) and I’m observing this now in the long Austrian Pro local tournament, he works mainly on net approaching, including serve&Volley.
        Would be funny to see him playing serve&volley regularly against Nadal on clay 😉

      2. Are you sure? I thought that was a white lie from Babolat to hide the fact he was actually using Head Strings at the time 😆

        He was full bed of RPM Power until the end of last season as an on-site stringer told me.

        Changed again for Aus Open?

      3. Didn’t know about the small grip trend. Does Roger use now smaller grip too? Probably not, because spin is not so crucial for his game.
        Yes, there was time, Thiem experimented with Head hybrid strings. Maybe Babolat had by then no hybrid strings fitting Thiem’s game?
        And yes, he changed Power to Team this season. I guess this started with AO, didn’t change then strings again for South American Swing, which was nope for him, but he probably was not taking it very serious and preparing all the time for Sunshine Double, which was unfortunately locked down.

      4. What’s your source for Thiem using RPM Team?

        Fed uses 4 3/8 grip. Fairway with 1 overgrip.

  2. I can’t recall the interview in Austrian media, which is my primary source, but i found it also here https://tennisnerd.net/gear/racquets/pro-player-racquets/dominic-thiems-racquet/16835. Not sure, if the source is serious 🙁
    Fed uses Fairway leather grip (custom for his frame?) 4/38 plus overgrip?
    Well, Fed was never going for being “trendy”. The racket must fit his unique game style and his individual feeling (which is probably a kind of “standard” for every top player).

  3. I think this is the post with the lowest ratio [Photos of Fed] : [Photos of some other dude], precisely zero!
    The rule of restrings/year = sessions/week means that one should restring roughly once every 52 sessions. For one hour sessions, that’s ~50 hours per set. That is perfectly fine for the average Joe, but for ball whackers, it might be a bit sparse…

  4. Too much Dopovic Photos on a RF Fanpage in my opinion, especially when being the main visual to introduce a new article.

    Jonathan why is that for the second time in a few weeks ?

  5. Despite me playing a lot, i never really paid attention to the strings used. I was a typical club player, where i’d give my racquet in once i snapped the strings. However using the poly-filament Prince Beast strings (Head Radical 295g), i found these would last several months and i didn’t notice a stop in performance. Once i began to use the RF97A (340g), i began to snap the strings more often. Prince stopped making the Beast strings and now my stock has finished, i needed to find a new batch.
    One chap at the club, constantly changes his strings to different types, different racquets, etc. I personally like to keep a constant and change one parameter at a time. I now use these new strings from a professional stringer in London, UK – these are just amazing. My touch, feel and spin have been amplified.
    Im waiting to notice a drop in performance. Strung in May 2020. 🙂

  6. I’m playing about 5hrs a week using 1.25mm RPM Blast at 22Kg; I average 1 string break every week so have three rackets on rotation.

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