POLY CROSS STRINGS: Higher Tension = Better Performance?

Discussion in 'Strings' started by The Big Kahuna, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. The Big Kahuna

    The Big Kahuna Semi-Pro

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    From the Guts & Glory Blog on the topic of cross string tension in a full poly bed:

    When a racquet is strung with the set tension the same in the mains and the crosses the differential between the two (as measured by a Stringmeter) is often in the 32 – 37% range. You read that correctly. The mains will measure (on average) 35% tighter than the cross strings. In the context of a full synthetic or a natural gut setup, this has not been an issue. It has been status quo. However, with full polys or poly hybrids it is less than ideal. The differential in tension with poly-based strings should ideally fall in the range of 20 – 25%…no more. When the differential in tension is brought closer together, the mains and crosses are able to work in unison with one another. When they are further apart, (greater than 25%), the mains are punished until they stabilize and come closer in line with the crosses. The result of this in the today’s world of polys is that the poly mains become overstretched and thus lose their tension and playability rapidly. One easy way to extend the optimal life of your poly setup is to allow the crosses to support the mains. This extends the useful playability by a considerable amount.

    Bringing the mains and crosses closer in tension offers HUGE benefits for poly players. It allows players to string at lower reference tensions where polys will shine, it extends the useful playability of the stringbed and extends the time players can get solid performance before having to restring. The easiest way to bring the mains and crosses closer to one another so they will work in unison is to increase the tension of the cross strings by approximately 4 pounds. The simple act of altering tension in this manner will definitely lead to a noticeable increase in performance in most instances. HOWEVER, when increasing the tension on the crosses it is possible to overstretch the poly, exceeding the elastic limits of the string. This is most likely to occur on constant pull machines that overshoot tension. Because of this potential pitfall we recommend keeping the tension on the crosses the same or up to 2 pounds lower than the mains and using extended pulling time before clamping off. The extended pulling time on a constant pull machine (much more difficult to achieve this effect on a crank machine) will produce the desired outcome much more reliably than increasing the set tension. We recommend keeping each cross under tension for 20 seconds before clamping off. This may seem like it will add considerable time to the stringing process, but it really does not. While the cross is under tension go ahead and pre-weave the next cross string. After weaving the cross, release the tension and clamp off. Stringing in this manner is a bit awkward at first, but soon the stringer becomes fluid in working with this method. The on court results are definitely worth the effort!
     
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  2. chunlimeyers

    chunlimeyers Rookie

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    I found in the real world this is absolutely reversed. When i finally strung my main poly at 58 and my cross at 53(also poly), a whole new world of topspin and play-ability was achieved! I was before stringing same tension for cross and main. With a 18 by 20 string pattern this really locked the strings down, didn't let the mains move enough, and killed a lot of "free movement" to make spin.

    I have an electric stringer, so it is a "constant tension" machine, so possibly 58 mains, 54 might be good for a drop weight? I really have no idea. But I do know that the lower you can string your crosses without busting your frame, the better! Also, 58 is as tight as you should string poly, as surely most know. And, yes, it is so sweet if I do distort the frame and bust it one day, i would buy another, its just that good.
     
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  3. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    It would be nice to know what studies the article relies on.
     
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  4. GlenK

    GlenK Professional

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    I use the 20 second rule when stringing poly crosses and found it works really well. Forgot to do it one day and there was a distinct increase in stiffness of the SB.
     
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  5. corners

    corners Legend

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    No studies. Pure conjecture as far as I can tell.
     
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  6. The Big Kahuna

    The Big Kahuna Semi-Pro

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    Here is another post from the Guts & Glory BoLog relative to the stringing of Poly and Co-Poly string:

    Qualitative analysis of tennis message boards, tennis twitter accounts, facebook pages, blogs and various discussions has convinced me that the vast majority of stringers are not well versed in the nature of poly and co-poly strings. As a result, many stringers, even those widely respected and much revered, do not install poly-based strings in a manner that optimizes their performance. In fact, it is not going out on much of a limb to estimate that 90% or more of stringers in the USA are UNINTENTIONALLY installing these strings in a manner which robs them of performance characteristics. I know because until late 2010 I was among this group of well-intentioned professional stringers who was unknowingly butchering these strings because I was not aware of how they needed to be handled.

    First of all, and perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome, is to realize that poly-based strings are designed to perform best at lower tensions. We are talking a tension range in the 30′s – 40′s. The absolute top end of that range would be 52 pounds. Once you go beyond 52, you are entering the point of quickly diminishing returns. I realize this may represent a HUGE shift in thinking for many readers. In fact a majority of you are probably thinking of mailing me a care package of colorful Sharpies so that I can decorate the walls of my padded room, but it is not really that crazy. The fear of low tensions is loss of control. I can assure you from personal experience as well as experience with many local customers, that quality poly-based offerings, PROPERLY INSTALLED, give ample control at these low tensions. I PROMISE this is a true statement. In fact, when all elements are working together (strings/racquet/player) it becomes almost impossible to hit a ball long.

    Installing poly-based strings requires one critical element that many stringers may find challenging. P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E! It is not possible to provide to a quality stringjob with poly-based strings using a rushed sequence. The 15 minute stringjob that may be just fine for synthetics and natural gut, just is not going to cut it with poly-based strings. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RUSH THE STRINGING PROCESS WITH POLY BASED STRINGS. Some professional stringers may take issue with this statement. They will claim their stringing method is fine-tuned, precise and consistent. We take no issues with these claims. However, those elements without additional care are NOT good enough to produce the best outcomes for poly-based strings. What they produce is consistently mediocre (at best) results. We must remember that the majority of recreational and league players need their strings to last much longer than the pros who get a fresh string job every 9 games. They need to last for weeks and sometimes months.

    Poly-based strings are oft criticized for being stiff, rapidly losing tension, contributing to elbow pain and failing to hold playing properties. Each of these claims can be true, except there is a huge BUT here that dwarfs even that of Ms. Kardashian. These statements are only true when the strings have been overtensioned and OVERSTRETCHED. When not overtensioned or overstretched poly-based strings are EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE, LOSE LESS TENSION THAN MOST SYNTHETICS, and HOLD PLAYING PROPERTIES for an extended period of time. (The last varies according to makeup of string).

    How can this be? The literature, testimonials and even the USRSA data show that poly-based strings loose tension rapidly. Clearly the statement made in the above paragraph is nothing more than an outpouring of a deranged mind, right? Well, not necessarily. We are suggesting that all this data is gathered from and observed by individuals and groups who have overtensioned the poly-based strings…including the USRSA who test at 62 pounds! (This might give representative results with other strings, but it just ain’t gonna fly with poly-based offerings.)

    Poly-based strings have a much lower level of resiliency than synthetics and natural gut. As such, when being installed, it must be handled with care. Even though it is a strong and durable string in the raquet, it takes a tender touch to install properly. The best analogy we have found comes from John Elliot. John compares poly-based strings to the spring that can be found in your average ball point pen. Just like the spring it offers resiliency and when properly used it will hold this resiliency for an extended period of time. However, just like the spring in the pen, it can be easily stretched out of shape if not handled properly. Once this stretching occurs, the spring is dead. It will continue to elongate, but will not retract back into it’s original form and shape. The exact same principle applies to a poly-based string. It CAN NOT be OVERSTRETCHED or OVERTENSIONED without suffering consequences.
     
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  7. The Big Kahuna

    The Big Kahuna Semi-Pro

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    Posted on iStringing.com:

    Each racquet has a manufacturer recommended range for tension. Polyester and stiffer strings should be strung 10% less than other strings. Lower tensions tend to generate more power while higher tensions tend to generate more control (for experienced players). We recommend stringing racquets as low as possible while still achieving the control you desire. Start off low and adjust the tension up if you desire more control. In the past, players used to string their racquets in the 60s and 70s, but keep in mind that racquets nowadays are stiffer and they were not using polyester strings at that high tension. Polyester strings play surprisingly well at lower tensions (below 50). Players are using Polyester strings at tensions as low as the 20s with great results. Milos Raonic sometimes strings his racquet at 40lbs in the mains and 42 in the crosses on a full polyester stringjob. Roger Federer typically strings at 46 mains and 42 crosses with natural gut in mains and polyester in crosses.
     
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  8. tomseek

    tomseek New User

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    Let me get this right. When the main & cross are strung at the same tension, the mains are tighter than the cross by 35#. But, you only want the difference to be within 25#. Yet, you recommend the mains to be strung 2# tighter than the cross, which means that the differential is > 35#.

    Make up your mind! Should the difference be < 25# or > 35#?

    Tom
     
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  9. The Big Kahuna

    The Big Kahuna Semi-Pro

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    I think they are referring to 25% to 35% difference in tension rather than pounds. The suggestion is that a 25% difference intention would equate to somewhere between 2-4 pounds in tension.

    Has anyone had a similar experience in with a support this premise? That's really my question. Does this pan out from your experience playtests?
     
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  10. sovertennis

    sovertennis Semi-Pro

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    I've been stringing full poly jobs for myself and my customers with a 2-3# increase in the crosses for several years. For my own frames, I occassionally string the mains and crosses at the same tension (46#) and notice immediately that the bed feels stiffer. I have no empirical data to back this up, but the string bed seems to "cup" (for lack of a better term) the ball better when the crosses are strung slightly tighter.

    Stringing poly at low (ie not more than 50, and even better at closer to 40#) is, to me, a given.
     
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  11. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    The only source that I trust, when I string racquets with different tensions in the mains and crosses, is the Stringway tension advisor:

    http://www.stringway-nl.com/en/TAonline/calc.php

    When the tension adviser tells me to string the mains and crosses @ different tensions, i know there's a good reason to do so, based on solid evidence and research.

    Any other joe-schmoe who posts an internet article telling me to change the way I do things irregardless of the racquet shape and drill pattern is likely to be flat out wrong.
     
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  12. Sander001

    Sander001 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting tool. It's telling me to string my Yonex tighter in the crosses.
    :confused:
     
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  13. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I think the G&G guy has some good points. Poly does play very well at lower tensions. I have been playing poly and poly hybrids for 8-10 years now and I started in the high 58-60 range. I now use multi mains at 52 with poly cross at 48 and it is very controllable. In cool or cold weather, I will drop both tensions 2 lbs.

    Daniel Nestor was reported as using gut mains at 40lbs with poly cross at 38 lbs. That's pretty low for a pro and he isn't the lowest. Volandri uses poly in 25lb range. Federer uses gut mains in the mid-to-hi-40lb with poly crosses 2lbs lower than the mains.

    Jack Sock was reported using all poly at 38lbs.

    So, I think the basic idea of using polys in the 40-52 range or even lower is very solid.

    I also think stringing the cross 2 lbs lower than mains is good if all 1 string setup. Hybrids are different - I always string the soft string a bit tighter than the poly in hybrids, usually 3-5 lbs tighter.
     
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  14. Shangri La

    Shangri La Hall of Fame

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    But doesnt the 20-second method effectively Increase the crosses tension which make the stringbed stiffer?
     
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  15. GlenK

    GlenK Professional

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    Actually it seems to make the SB softer. Can't explain it but that's the result I've felt.
     
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  16. fgs

    fgs Hall of Fame

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    there are a lot of things in respect to poly which are correctly presented. the way you string a stick in the end is also a matter of personal preference. for instance they say to increase the tension on the outer strings in order to compensate tension loss at the knot, which is indeed reasonable, but i have grown used to lower the tension on the outer strings, mains as well as crosses, giving me a softer stringbed and a slightly larger sweetspot.

    while i am sure the guys at guts&glory are true professionals, and i really mean it, i would NEVER EVER follow this piece of advice:
    "After weaving the cross, release the tension and clamp off."

    my little experience tells me i should rather first clamp off and then release tension, it i ever wanted to finish a stringjob.:)
     
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  17. SteveI

    SteveI Legend

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    I also used to string my poly hybrids in the upper 50s.. and now I am at 50 poly mains and 48 syn gut crosses. I know many folk here do just the opposite.. ie string crosses tighter. I like the way the string bed feels with a soft cross strung a bit lower then my poly mains. The sweet spot seems bigger to me and comfort/feel is improved. I have no studies to back this up. I know what I like. I am not a real big fan of a full poly bed.
     
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  18. Avadia

    Avadia Rookie

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    Just the opposite for me. It is telling me to string my Juice Pro 8 lbs lighter in the crosses!


    Your string-bed-stiffness: 40 kg/cm (DT waarde)

    Your tension for the main strings (in kg): 28 kg/61.7 lbs

    Your tension for the cross strings (in kg): 24.3 kg/53.6 lbs

    The problem I have with this tension calculator is it doesn't seem to allow you to select what strings you are stringing or allow for hybrid stringing. This greatly reduces my confidence in the results, as different strings have such different characteristics at varying tensions. Or am I missing something?
     
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  19. The Big Kahuna

    The Big Kahuna Semi-Pro

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    I totally agree. I find I get better pocketing, as well.
     
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  20. vandre

    vandre Hall of Fame

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    it must not know the yonex rule for crosses :confused: ;)
     
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