One of the most common questions recreational tennis players ask is, “how often should tennis racket strings be replaced?” It’s a great question, though one that isn’t always given a whole lot of consideration.
The fact of the matter is that strings wear down from play, lose their elasticity and tension and ultimately if left too long can have a negative impact on both your power and control. To help determine when to restring, a general rule of thumb was established that says you should replace your strings as many times per year as you play per week.
While the rule works for very casual recreational players that don’t compete, it can be terribly misleading for many others who might play twice one week, five times the next and not at all for the next 2 weeks. For example, on average, I play about 4 times a week, counting a private lesson and a 1-1/2 hour long doubles drill. So that means I should restring about four times per year, or once per quarter, right? I actually don’t follow the rule to a T and restring about 6 times per year, because I play more hard-hitting singles than doubles, and many times I’ll also play a game of doubles after my lesson and/or drill.
Since many players don’t play the same amount of times every week, frequency alone isn’t all you factor when determining when to restring.
Factors to Consider
The truth is, how often you restring is different for all players. Factors such as your frequency, length of play, style of play, level of competition, budget and personal preference all have an influence on when you should restring your racket.
- Frequency and length of play: Going by the “rule of thumb”, recreational players who regularly play 2-3 times per week might get by having their rackets restrung 3 times per year. But what about the player who is lucky enough to play 7 days per week? He could be restringing his racket every 52 days, which is actually a long time to go at that frequency of play. Many players would break a string long before they even hit the 52-day mark. So, if you’re looking for a general rule purely based on frequency, I’d say take the number of times you play per week and double that number to find out roughly how many times per year you should string. That means if you’re playing 7 days a week you should restring about once a month. Based on my experience that makes a heck of a lot more sense! And, of course, if you’re playing 7 days a week for 30 minutes vs 7 days a week for 3 hours you’ll still have to make a judgment call on how fresh and consistent you want the tension of your strings to be.
- Style of play: Another factor to consider is your style of play. If you hit soft with an eastern grip and you come to the net a lot then you might not have to string your racket all that often. On the other hand, if you’re a hard-hitting baseliner with a semi-western or western grip then you might need to string your racket more frequently since the friction and therefore wear of your strings will be significantly greater.
- Level of competition: As you start competing at a higher level, it becomes more and more important to control the elements of your game (that you actually can control,) and stringing is one of those elements. It’s really all about consistency in both your practice and matches; you’re going to want the tension of your racket to be the same every time so you’re not struggling to compensate for an unexpected loss in tension. Yes…you may want to vary the tension of your racket depending on conditions or how you’re playing on a given day, but it’s important that you know exactly what to expect from the tension change.
- Budget: For most players, a budget is simply a fact of life. You may be hitting the court 7 days a week for 3 hours a day but if you can’t afford to restring your racket frequently then you simply won’t. This, of course, will be different for each and every player, but it’s worth considering. If budget is a concern you may also want to consider the type of tennis strings that you’re playing with. Depending on the material, construction, and gauge of your strings you can drastically impact the frequency at which you’ll need to restring.
- Personal preference: You’ll also want to consider your personal preferences. If you’re playing tennis and learning for fun and your coach or instructor tells you that you should restring your racket every other month, but you’re really not all concerned with the variation in tension, then wait until you’re ready to restring. At the end of the day it’s up to you and knowing why you should restring is half the battle when making this decision.
While the frequency at which you decide to restring your racket will be different for every player it’s helpful to understand why you should restring your racket and understand the factors that contribute to when you should restring.
I get my rackets restrung at Tennis Express because they’re cheaper than my club, and they’re fast! I can usually drop it off at lunch and pick it up on my way home from work. But if their Westheimer/Walnut Bend (Houston) location isn’t convenient for you, I recommend taking it to your club’s pro shop or nearest Academy location. Or you can visit http://www.racquettech.com to find a stringer near you – anywhere in the US!
A NOTE: If you have a backup racket (which is good to have in case a string breaks mid-match), Daniel at Tennis Express says that without restringing it at least every 3-4 months, the tension would definitely change, and probably enough to mess with your game when you finally do use it. He also says that temperature also affects the tension – in hot conditions, the strings loosen, and in cold, they tighten, so be sure and keep all rackets stored indoors (as opposed to a hot/cold trunk.)