Are there any benefits to smooth strings?

mxmx

Hall of Fame
Are there any benefits to smooth strings? Are there any reasons one would go with strings that are smooth compared to shaped or spin strings?
 

tonylg

Legend
I only use smooth strings when I'm doing a hybrid with gut.

Not sure if it has much effect on snap back, but it definitely helps the gut last longer.
 

3loudboys

Legend
Durability could be one. The edged strings can cut through softer multis and gut. Not sure about how the crosses and mains interact on a full bed of shaped poly but would imagine is a rougher ride and causes greater wear.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
What are the effects of feel between the two types?

And would one type benefit flatter strokes?
 

Crashbaby

Semi-Pro
Round strings provide a more consistent launch angle and that’s why more pros use round, rather than edge shaped strings. Shapo plays a small headed, dense pattern racquet with round strings and is one of the highest spin players on tour. I don’t see the need for shaped strings if chasing spin. A 4 sided string would be the most inconsistent, 6 or 8 would behave with more consistently. When Rafa, Rodger or the Joker start using a 4 sided string, or someone wins a Singles Major with one, then they may start to gain some credibility in my mind.
From a practical standpoint, you are putting a square peg in a round hole. The grommets on your racquet are not designed for them either. Not a fan of square, but slightly shaped I’m warming to after recently trying Head lynx tour.
 

Dan007

Hall of Fame
Round strings provide a more consistent launch angle and that’s why more pros use round, rather than edge shaped strings. Shapo plays a small headed, dense pattern racquet with round strings and is one of the highest spin players on tour. I don’t see the need for shaped strings if chasing spin. A 4 sided string would be the most inconsistent, 6 or 8 would behave with more consistently. When Rafa, Rodger or the Joker start using a 4 sided string, or someone wins a Singles Major with one, then they may start to gain some credibility in my mind.
From a practical standpoint, you are putting a square peg in a round hole. The grommets on your racquet are not designed for them either. Not a fan of square, but slightly shaped I’m warming to after recently trying Head lynx tour.
I think the only shaped poly to win a major on the men's side is RPM Blast with Rafa and Stan? Please correct me if I'm wrong
 

Yamin

Professional
More consistent launch angle, more linear playability, and my favorite is low sensitivity to incoming spin. You can hit winners off opponent's second serve all day.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I'd use textured strings over shaped strings in my mains every time. I'd use smooth round strings in my crosses every time.
I think that gives you predictable grab and spin with best durability.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
Round strings provide a more consistent launch angle and that’s why more pros use round, rather than edge shaped strings. Shapo plays a small headed, dense pattern racquet with round strings and is one of the highest spin players on tour. I don’t see the need for shaped strings if chasing spin if you have pro levels of racquet head speed. A 4 sided string would be the most inconsistent, 6 or 8 would behave with more consistently. When Rafa, Rodger or the Joker start using a 4 sided string, or someone wins a Singles Major with one, then they may start to gain some credibility in my mind for players with pro levels of racquet head speed.
From a practical standpoint, you are putting a square peg in a round hole. The grommets on your racquet are not designed for them either. Not a fan of square, but slightly shaped I’m warming to after recently trying Head lynx tour.
FTFY.

By the way, many grommet holes are oblong so they're not the same shape as a round string either. And the O-ports are way larger than any string so using the grommet hole as a guide to what string should be used doesn't make sense.

That being said, it is true that launch angle changes are greater between flat and spin shots with a shaped string. It is the same comparing round poly strings with more traditional strings - round poly strings have greater launch angle differences between flat and spin shots than a multifilament or gut.

The launch angle difference also comes with greater sensitivity to incoming spin. For me as a user of shaped poly strings, this is as great of an issue as the larger launch angle differences. It makes volleying and returning sidespin serves and groundstrokes more difficult, and I would imagine that a pro who has racquet head speed to spare would want to use a round string to avoid having to also deal with incoming spin sensitivity.

I use shaped strings because I don't have pro levels of racquet head speed, and so I need the help to generate spin. That spin lets me access parts of the court that I couldn't otherwise, and also put the ball after the bounce in locations that I wouldn't be able to with round strings, and for my game the ability to do that is worth the tradeoffs in launch angle changes and incoming spin sensitivity.
 
Several reasons to use a round poly: 1) Causes less fraying in the intersecting string. 2) Shaped strings impart spin on shots you hit. Likewise, another person spin shot will "grab" your string more too, so if you're a volleyer, you'll have more difficult shots to hit as your opponents spin connects more with your string.
 

Mischko

Rookie
As your swing speed gets higher, and you consistently hit with all your power non stop, full swings, jumping etc, you only need enough spin, not max spin. And even if you wanted max spin, to dig out a low ball for example, you will get it primarily with snap back.

String snap back is when mains slide across the crosses as you hit topspin forehand for example, and then elastically - snap back. To get max snap back you need slippery strings, and lower tension. More open string pattern helps too, torsionally stable racquets help as well. Strings need some elasticity so they lose snap back if they are completely old and dead. Stiffer materials help, as there is less ball pocketing, so most "spin strings" are stiffer poly, or gut/poly hybrid, to limit how much the ball sinks into the stringbed.

If you opt for a too low tension to get snap back and spin, you'll lose control and get too much ball pocketing. So most advanced players are between 1. "as loose as you can without spraying out balls", and 2. "as tight as you can without losing snapback". To explain this second option - if you string your racquet too tight, even when new and slippery, strings won't move to provide snap back, they will lock. You never want that.

Shaped strings can have great snap back when new, and their contact surface between mains and crosses can be low. All strings are slippery when new, usually because they all have special slippery coating. Then after an hour, slippery coating wears off, strings still slide but less, and the player incorrectly concludes that "ridges are worn, string is now round so that's why there's less spin". They are slightly worn, but that is not the main reason for lower snap back - coating is gone.

So a player can think that shape is primary contributor to spin, when it is mostly snap back. That is easily tested, just string your shaped string super ultra tight, so that they are locked and they don't move, and then only spin you'll get is from the ridges because there is no snap back.

Some good examples are Roger's setup, gut/poly in a fairly open string pattern, and he is a heavy spinner, among top 2 or 3 regularly, along with Rafa and now Ruud. With gut you want a round string in the crosses, like ALU or Hawk Touch, and gut will last a lot, and slide and snap back nicely all the way until it breaks.

Stan and Rafa both use RPM Blast, Stan in 1.25 at 28kg so second option, Rafa in 1.35 at 25kg so first option. RPM Blast has silicone coating that is exceptionally slippery but wears off quickly, in 20ish minutes. Stan's racquet would then have "locked" strings, a total no go.

Ruud has shaped Yonex PT Spin in mains, and round Yonex PT Pro in crosses. Something like that works well for me too, very slightly shaped Head Lynx Tour in mains and Head Hawk/Hawk Touch in crosses, but Musetti, another spinner, plays round Hawk Touch in mains and Lynx Tour in crosses.

So you can experiment. Head strings are good for experimenting, because they are very consistent from new to breaking, don't lose control, and go really well with one another. Yonex PTS and PTP are nice, dampened, but less consistent, there is a very noticeable change after 30min or so. RPM Blast is the worst in snap back consistency.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
As your swing speed gets higher, and you consistently hit with all your power non stop, full swings, jumping etc, you only need enough spin, not max spin. And even if you wanted max spin, to dig out a low ball for example, you will get it primarily with snap back.

String snap back is when mains slide across the crosses as you hit topspin forehand for example, and then elastically - snap back. To get max snap back you need slippery strings, and lower tension. More open string pattern helps too, torsionally stable racquets help as well. Strings need some elasticity so they lose snap back if they are completely old and dead. Stiffer materials help, as there is less ball pocketing, so most "spin strings" are stiffer poly, or gut/poly hybrid, to limit how much the ball sinks into the stringbed.

If you opt for a too low tension to get snap back and spin, you'll lose control and get too much ball pocketing. So most advanced players are between 1. "as loose as you can without spraying out balls", and 2. "as tight as you can without losing snapback". To explain this second option - if you string your racquet too tight, even when new and slippery, strings won't move to provide snap back, they will lock. You never want that.

Shaped strings can have great snap back when new, and their contact surface between mains and crosses can be low. All strings are slippery when new, usually because they all have special slippery coating. Then after an hour, slippery coating wears off, strings still slide but less, and the player incorrectly concludes that "ridges are worn, string is now round so that's why there's less spin". They are slightly worn, but that is not the main reason for lower snap back - coating is gone.

So a player can think that shape is primary contributor to spin, when it is mostly snap back. That is easily tested, just string your shaped string super ultra tight, so that they are locked and they don't move, and then only spin you'll get is from the ridges because there is no snap back.

Some good examples are Roger's setup, gut/poly in a fairly open string pattern, and he is a heavy spinner, among top 2 or 3 regularly, along with Rafa and now Ruud. With gut you want a round string in the crosses, like ALU or Hawk Touch, and gut will last a lot, and slide and snap back nicely all the way until it breaks.

Stan and Rafa both use RPM Blast, Stan in 1.25 at 28kg so second option, Rafa in 1.35 at 25kg so first option. RPM Blast has silicone coating that is exceptionally slippery but wears off quickly, in 20ish minutes. Stan's racquet would then have "locked" strings, a total no go.

Ruud has shaped Yonex PT Spin in mains, and round Yonex PT Pro in crosses. Something like that works well for me too, very slightly shaped Head Lynx Tour in mains and Head Hawk/Hawk Touch in crosses, but Musetti, another spinner, plays round Hawk Touch in mains and Lynx Tour in crosses.

So you can experiment. Head strings are good for experimenting, because they are very consistent from new to breaking, don't lose control, and go really well with one another. Yonex PTS and PTP are nice, dampened, but less consistent, there is a very noticeable change after 30min or so. RPM Blast is the worst in snap back consistency.
I agree with the new strings playing different to strings that's an hour old. I normally dislike brand new strings and almost always have to break them in a little.

Some interesting takes by some members here regarding the spin also affecting you when you receive spinny balls, especially on volleys. It makes sense...

For all the above reasons I would probably go smooth setup...

I am however trying a spin main and smooth crosses setup for the first time...not sure if I will be able to notice the subtle changes.
 

RF_PRO_STAFF

Semi-Pro
When I first started experimenting with strings, I really liked shaped polys. I didn't have the knowledge about it but thought they give the most amount of spin. And like @Mischko says, after the coating wears off, they become average.

I'm only recently starting to try some round poly strings for all the pros that have been stated in this thread. Having high racquet head speed, I really notice getting better results with round polys. Right now, I'm on Hawk Touch 1.20 in my trusted VC95 at 22/20.5kg (around 48.5/45lbs) as opposed to Cyclone Tour 1.20 which I used for months at almost the same tension. To me, Hawk Touch feels more predictable, I get a bit better control in regard to incoming spins and it keeps snapping back very consistenly, where VCT really loses snapback over time for me.
I do have to get used to it on touch shots, where I feel like I get a lot of control with VCT on dropshots, drop volleys, nasty slices with weird spins etc. The shaped string really grabs the ball nicely on those, I still need to dial them in with the Hawk Touch setup.

I'm planning on also trying yellow PTP 1.20 (used 1.25 anthracite for a while) and maybe PTS (but suspect it'll be too stiff long-term). Will make a choice between those 2/3 to make the switch for in my VC95's. But I'll still keep experimenting with all kinds of strings in my other racquets. Shaped poly strings are hella fun.
 

Mischko

Rookie
Many intermediate players play with stiffer racquets, for example Pure Drive and Aero are super popular, and don't always have a proper full swing. So many will prefer a kind of not too harsh poly, or poly after a few hours of settling.

Also, there are a bit deader, internally dampened polys, that provide control but without the stiff feel, like Yonex PT Pro, Hyper G, Revolve Spin, Signum Pro X-Perience etc. and people like them for a good reason. To me those strings seem prestretched from the factory, and to me they seem to lose elasticity and power quite quickly in power play. But they prevent injuries, which is excellent really.

But..

If you always go for a looser deader poly like that, you might have difficulties advancing your technique and your tennis. That is because your dead strings will prevent you from hitting harder, your swing will often be shorter, or you will brush the ball too much when you try to hit harder, just to keep it in. They are nice for blocking though.

Strings that are for hard hitting like Head Lynx Tour, Hawk, Hawk Touch, Luxilon Alu, 4G etc. will enable you to swing freely, and still get the ball into the court, even after the string is settled and looser. And when you try to do warm up, some hitting, then hitting as hard as you can for 20 minutes, you need fresher strings. Any dead loose string doesn't really work so well. Soft beaten up balls don't work well. So you have to be aware of all of that.

If you choose to have touch and softness, for slower play, slicing and dicing, defence etc. you're stopping yourself from hitting properly, in a way. I have friends and tennis partners, some juniors too, who need some encouraging from time to time to hit the ball harder, otherwise they just block, and are surprised how they can't control it well when they have loose old strings and they start hitting harder. But with freshly strung racquets they say it is kind of stiff. My response: well hit the damn ball already, don't just block it. There is a difference between you hitting the ball or the ball hitting you.

However, if you choose to hit hard, then you have to do it on every shot, and move your feet. And then a string like Hawk Touch is great, good trajectory and everything, and then you're not so sensitive to incoming spin because you know you'll hit the ball hard enough. So you have to choose between the two, and then follow your choice.

If you have a good hitting partner or a coach, and you know that you'll try to hit the ball as hard as you can, with wide relaxed swings - every time, not just sometimes - then you will definitely need fresher strings and harder balls.
 
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