Confused about string choices.

mccollde

New User
I see in many of the forums on TT where people say if your a 3.5ish player not to bother with poly's just stick to a good multi or synthetic gut until you groove your strokes more. Is this because polys are generally more expensive and this would be a waste of money or will using a poly at a lower level of play slow my progression of getting better?

Thanks in advance.
 

Fintft

Legend
I recommend what I got in my sig, but only if you have a stringer who is experienced with natural gut.
 

ruimarto

New User
Hi. I'm not an expert on strings (or anything else btw), but after six months I was already using poly and I evolved quite rapidly. I was fit, young and for some reason I had no sympathy for the little yellow ball so I would always hit very hard. A control oriented racquet and high tension poly (Hurricane Tour at 28Kg) helped me keep the ball inside the court.

I've been using poly ever since (sometimes mixing with gut). And yeah, it's expensive. Some polys last longer than others and some players break more strings than others, but in order to keep optimal performance, mine only lasted two to three weeks tops (6h per week of playing).
 

mccollde

New User
The cost is not really the most important thing for me. Im just trying to make sure im not using a type of string thats above my level of play.
 

TobyTopspin

Professional
I'm one to not advocate polys until you get to the upper 4.0 levels. My reasons are below.

1) Arm Health - Less experienced players have a harder time determining when to cut out the poly after it has lost it's ability to rebound in a timely matter in relationship to the ball leaving the racquet face. Even old heavily notched polys will rebound to a point, but if they do not rebound in the time that the ball is on the racquet face then you might as well wrap some Tourna around a 27 inch scrap 2X4 and go at it (I prefer pine as it is flexier). Seriously, the poly needs to be restrung fairly regulary in order to take advantage of it's properties.

2) Good Timing - You need to make contact out 'in front' on every ground stroke. This allows your entire body force to withstand the force of the on coming ball. If you make late contact on occasion, the jarring of polyester is going to have an effect on your wrist, elbow or shoulder eventually.

3) You are hurting your game - When you switch to a poly, you are taking power away from the most important stroke in the game, the serve. You have to swing harder with poly to generate the same amount of power with a synthetic, much less a natural gut string. This can lead to bad form and injury.

4) Ball speed at lower level - Contrary to popular belief, the highest speed of a 5.0 ground stroke isn't that different than the highest speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. The deal is that the AVERAGE speed of a 5.0 ground stroke is much higher than the AVERAGE speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. When you are not returning heavy ground strokes consistently, it makes it harder on the poly to do it's job as intended. On a softer shot, the ball just doesn't move the strings on the racquet face like a harder shot will. I will say that stringing poly at lower tension can offset this point as well as the new SPIN, ESP type of frames as it allows the strings to move more. Modern technology works in this case!!!

5) Cost of strings - While polys appear cheap in comparison to multis and natural gut, the required replacement every few weeks quickly makes up for the price. If you are going to use poly all the time, you better have access to a stringer or a nice friend that has one.

6) Bad technique - With all the talk about the added benefit of poly, I have seen a disturbing trend with the students and players around the courts. These are the types of players that live and die for tennis, but try to emulate the pros by swinging straight up on the ball. I see a ton of players trying to be the next Nadal or Sharapova with their own version of the Buggy Whip forehand. In order to be a good solid tennis player you need to hit through the ball. Even Nadal and Sharapova hit through the ball far more often than they do the Buggy Whip. When these lower level players attempt to do these Buggy Whips it causes arm and shoulder injuries. The real benefit of the Buggy Whip is when you are on the run and can't meet the ball out front. It allows for later contact.


I'm sure I could come up with more, but I'm tired of typing and must get some work done. I will say that if you HAVE to use poly at the lower levels please string them lower (30 to 40 lbs range) to protect your joints and give your body a fighting chance.
 
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mccollde

New User
Thank you very much TobyTopspin for taking the time to help me understand this. Your response was spot on to a question I wasn't even sure if I was asking correctly.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
There are only a few good reasons to use poly. You break other strings a lot, or they feel good and you play well with them.
 

ruimarto

New User
Very good point about arm health!

That's the main reason I sometimes mix poly with gut and use much lower tensions nowadays. I stopped playing for about 3 years and when I returned I tried to use the same setups as before. Forgot I was older, fatter and my technique wasn't as good anymore.
 

1600

New User
I'm one to not advocate polys until you get to the upper 4.0 levels. My reasons are below.

1) Arm Health - Less experienced players have a harder time determining when to cut out the poly after it has lost it's ability to rebound in a timely matter in relationship to the ball leaving the racquet face. Even old heavily notched polys will rebound to a point, but if they do not rebound in the time that the ball is on the racquet face then you might as well wrap some Tourna around a 27 inch scrap 2X4 and go at it (I prefer pine as it is flexier). Seriously, the poly needs to be restrung fairly regulary in order to take advantage of it's properties.

2) Good Timing - You need to make contact out 'in front' on every ground stroke. This allows your entire body force to withstand the force of the on coming ball. If you make late contact on occasion, the jarring of polyester is going to have an effect on your wrist, elbow or shoulder eventually.

3) You are hurting your game - When you switch to a poly, you are taking power away from the most important stroke in the game, the serve. You have to swing harder with poly to generate the same amount of power with a synthetic, much less a natural gut string. This can lead to bad form and injury.

4) Ball speed at lower level - Contrary to popular belief, the highest speed of a 5.0 ground stroke isn't that different than the highest speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. The deal is that the AVERAGE speed of a 5.0 ground stroke is much higher than the AVERAGE speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. When you are not returning heavy ground strokes consistently, it makes it harder on the poly to do it's job as intended. On a softer shot, the ball just doesn't move the strings on the racquet face like a harder shot will. I will say that stringing poly at lower tension can offset this point as well as the new SPIN, ESP type of frames as it allows the strings to move more. Modern technology works in this case!!!

5) Cost of strings - While polys appear cheap in comparison to multis and natural gut, the required replacement every few weeks quickly makes up for the price. If you are going to use poly all the time, you better have access to a stringer or a nice friend that has one.

6) Bad technique - With all the talk about the added benefit of poly, I have seen a disturbing trend with the students and players around the courts. These are the types of players that live and die for tennis, but try to emulate the pros by swinging straight up on the ball. I see a ton of players trying to be the next Nadal or Sharapova with their own version of the Buggy Whip forehand. In order to be a good solid tennis player you need to hit through the ball. Even Nadal and Sharapova hit through the ball far more often than they do the Buggy Whip. When these lower level players attempt to do these Buggy Whips it causes arm and shoulder injuries. The real benefit of the Buggy Whip is when you are on the run and can't meet the ball out front. It allows for later contact.


I'm sure I could come up with more, but I'm tired of typing and must get some work done. I will say that if you HAVE to use poly at the lower levels please string them lower (30 to 40 lbs range) to protect your joints and give your body a fighting chance.
Spot On, mate! Well said...
 

spinovic

Hall of Fame
I'm one to not advocate polys until you get to the upper 4.0 levels. My reasons are below.

1) Arm Health - Less experienced players have a harder time determining when to cut out the poly after it has lost it's ability to rebound in a timely matter in relationship to the ball leaving the racquet face. Even old heavily notched polys will rebound to a point, but if they do not rebound in the time that the ball is on the racquet face then you might as well wrap some Tourna around a 27 inch scrap 2X4 and go at it (I prefer pine as it is flexier). Seriously, the poly needs to be restrung fairly regulary in order to take advantage of it's properties.

2) Good Timing - You need to make contact out 'in front' on every ground stroke. This allows your entire body force to withstand the force of the on coming ball. If you make late contact on occasion, the jarring of polyester is going to have an effect on your wrist, elbow or shoulder eventually.

3) You are hurting your game - When you switch to a poly, you are taking power away from the most important stroke in the game, the serve. You have to swing harder with poly to generate the same amount of power with a synthetic, much less a natural gut string. This can lead to bad form and injury.

4) Ball speed at lower level - Contrary to popular belief, the highest speed of a 5.0 ground stroke isn't that different than the highest speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. The deal is that the AVERAGE speed of a 5.0 ground stroke is much higher than the AVERAGE speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. When you are not returning heavy ground strokes consistently, it makes it harder on the poly to do it's job as intended. On a softer shot, the ball just doesn't move the strings on the racquet face like a harder shot will. I will say that stringing poly at lower tension can offset this point as well as the new SPIN, ESP type of frames as it allows the strings to move more. Modern technology works in this case!!!

5) Cost of strings - While polys appear cheap in comparison to multis and natural gut, the required replacement every few weeks quickly makes up for the price. If you are going to use poly all the time, you better have access to a stringer or a nice friend that has one.

6) Bad technique - With all the talk about the added benefit of poly, I have seen a disturbing trend with the students and players around the courts. These are the types of players that live and die for tennis, but try to emulate the pros by swinging straight up on the ball. I see a ton of players trying to be the next Nadal or Sharapova with their own version of the Buggy Whip forehand. In order to be a good solid tennis player you need to hit through the ball. Even Nadal and Sharapova hit through the ball far more often than they do the Buggy Whip. When these lower level players attempt to do these Buggy Whips it causes arm and shoulder injuries. The real benefit of the Buggy Whip is when you are on the run and can't meet the ball out front. It allows for later contact.


I'm sure I could come up with more, but I'm tired of typing and must get some work done. I will say that if you HAVE to use poly at the lower levels please string them lower (30 to 40 lbs range) to protect your joints and give your body a fighting chance.
Nice analysis.

Two thoughts I had in relation to your comments...

#2 is the biggest negative with poly for me personally. I'm not that good, so naturally my footwork and timing are not Federer-esque. Jarring is the absolute perfect word to describe poly for this example.

#3 - First let me say that I do agree with what you say. But, one point I will offer, that I have noticed for me personally, is that there have been times when the lower power of the poly has benefitted me in that it has enabled me to get a higher percentage of first serves in. Obviously, one can and does have to dial in their strokes with any equipment change, and ultimately, dialing in with a more powerful string, like gut, is better, but in the short term, this has happened in my game.

All that said, two final points from me...

1. My string preference, and what I play with most is natural gut, followed by multifilament. I do love gut mains with poly crosses, but the cost/playability-durability ratio makes this something I only do on occasion.

2. Experimenting with and trying different equipment is something I enjoy, so I still like to try some poly and play with it at times. But, I am well aware that my skill level is not such that I can fully utilize all it offers. It is simply fun for me.
 

SCRAP IRON

Professional
While Toby T. has explained the differences well, the bottom line is that poly is truly for 4.5+ players that hit with aggressive topspin on most every stroke. It is not intended for the casual player that plays both singles and doubles that does not take full, robust swings. There are very good multi-filament strings on the market today in which the player can really feel connected when striking the ball. Technifiber makes great multi products. If money is not a factor, try Wilson NXT Control. It gives you some of the control of a poly string with the comfort and power of a multi. As with most strings, you must restring when they become too loose in order to maintain optimal performance and consistency.
 

sansaephanh

Professional
I'm an averagely bad player. 3.5-4.0. I take long strokes, usually aggressive. I pop multis in 4-8 hrs and synthetic guts in around the same. I'm not a string breaker at all when it comes to poly, so i stick to 17 and 18g strings. The performance stays for me longer than it does others. Even when it's dead its still playable to me, just more erratic.

I prefer poly because I don't have any arm problems anymore and I feel as if I know what I am doing mechanically.

Poly has changed my game. Whether for better or worse I'm not sure. I think its all mental/strategies and fitness until you get to 5.0 anyways lol.
 

RanchDressing

Hall of Fame
4) Ball speed at lower level - Contrary to popular belief, the highest speed of a 5.0 ground stroke isn't that different than the highest speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. The deal is that the AVERAGE speed of a 5.0 ground stroke is much higher than the AVERAGE speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. When you are not returning heavy ground strokes consistently, it makes it harder on the poly to do it's job as intended. On a softer shot, the ball just doesn't move the strings on the racquet face like a harder shot will. I will say that stringing poly at lower tension can offset this point as well as the new SPIN, ESP type of frames as it allows the strings to move more. Modern technology works in this case!!!
I think you have good intentions here, but the ball difference between a 3.5 and a 5.0 is huge. I've yet to meet a 3.5 with a true 100mph forehand... And I know several 4.5's and 5.0's over the years with 90-100mph forehands...

Also poly doesn't get hurt by not hitting hard...

Simply put, at a 3.5 level you really wont need the benefits poly has, which is spin and control. You're not going to have the form to strike the ball hard enough. So you're just left with poly drawbacks which are lack of power and lack of comfort.

It's best to wait until you really need polyester. And when you start hitting out all the time, that is NOT the time to switch to polyester.

Also someone posted about getting VS natural gut. If you want you can, but honestly at the 3.5 level you do not need to spend 40$+ on strings alone, for a lot of people its going to be $60 for a bed of it (with stringing labor).

Stick to multi-filaments. They have great feel and good power. They won't hurt your arm, and learning to feel what the ball does can help you get better.

NRG2 (about 16$ a set of strings) is probably my favorite multi and it feels very similar to natural gut when new. You can string it nice and tight and not run into arm problems. There are also plenty of 'mono core' synthetic guts that are very affordable (5$ a set of strings).

If you find yourself moving out of the multi range, try a cheap multi filament hybrid, like OG Gosen in the mains, and a cheap soft smooth poly in the cross. That will still be much more powerful and much more comfortable than a full poly bed. But still have exceptional performance. Better than only multi, and I find better than most full poly. Or even give Babolat Origin a try. It's a little stiff as far as synthetics go, but the energy return is very good, and it has great spin potential for a multi.

If you don't absolutely need the performance of a poly to play, you're much better off without it.
 

mccollde

New User
I think you have good intentions here, but the ball difference between a 3.5 and a 5.0 is huge. I've yet to meet a 3.5 with a true 100mph forehand... And I know several 4.5's and 5.0's over the years with 90-100mph forehands...

Also poly doesn't get hurt by not hitting hard...

Simply put, at a 3.5 level you really wont need the benefits poly has, which is spin and control. You're not going to have the form to strike the ball hard enough. So you're just left with poly drawbacks which are lack of power and lack of comfort.

It's best to wait until you really need polyester. And when you start hitting out all the time, that is NOT the time to switch to polyester.

Also someone posted about getting VS natural gut. If you want you can, but honestly at the 3.5 level you do not need to spend 40$+ on strings alone, for a lot of people its going to be $60 for a bed of it (with stringing labor).

Stick to multi-filaments. They have great feel and good power. They won't hurt your arm, and learning to feel what the ball does can help you get better.

NRG2 (about 16$ a set of strings) is probably my favorite multi and it feels very similar to natural gut when new. You can string it nice and tight and not run into arm problems. There are also plenty of 'mono core' synthetic guts that are very affordable (5$ a set of strings).

If you find yourself moving out of the multi range, try a cheap multi filament hybrid, like OG Gosen in the mains, and a cheap soft smooth poly in the cross. That will still be much more powerful and much more comfortable than a full poly bed. But still have exceptional performance. Better than only multi, and I find better than most full poly. Or even give Babolat Origin a try. It's a little stiff as far as synthetics go, but the energy return is very good, and it has great spin potential for a multi.

If you don't absolutely need the performance of a poly to play, you're much better off without it.
What is the top two or three smooth polys that you would recommend?
 

sansaephanh

Professional
Just buy a set of all the cheap stuff if you're new. Tourna has great polys for the price, MSV, Genisis, Topspin and many other brands. Just try one at a time. Nothing is going to stick more than your own personal experience.

All my go to string beds are under 11$ easily. You won't know until you try it.
 

mctennis

Legend
I would probably guess that 90% of the rec players using polys are playing with strings that need replaced. That, to me, is the most expensive string you can buy. Especially if you have to pay for stringing.
There are a couple of very good threads here comparing multis and that will help narrow down your list if you find the time to review them.
I tried some polys and found them to die very, very quickly. Even with them as crosses in a gut/poly hybrid set up I can tell when they go dead. Not as quickly as I can tell in a poly/gut setup. I end up launching the ball long when the poly goes dead.
When I play around with the tensions and ended up using a low tension with the polys ( tension in the 40's) it is okay if you are just " hitting around" but noticed a huge depth problem when it came time to really playing a competitive game. If you skill level gets higher or if you play against ( just hitting around or doing drills with 4.5+ players) you will need strings and tensions that will give you more control. Power is useless if you cannot control where it goes, especially with consistency. One or two good shots out of 10 is not what I am looking for.
 

Fintft

Legend
. If money is not a factor, try Wilson NXT Control. It gives you some of the control of a poly string with the comfort and power of a multi. As with most strings, you must restring when they become too loose in order to maintain optimal performance and consistency.
NXT Max will last even longer.
 

Fintft

Legend
I'm one to not advocate polys until you get to the upper 4.0 levels. My reasons are below.

1) Arm Health - Less experienced players have a harder time determining when to cut out the poly after it has lost it's ability to rebound in a timely matter in relationship to the ball leaving the racquet face. Even old heavily notched polys will rebound to a point, but if they do not rebound in the time that the ball is on the racquet face then you might as well wrap some Tourna around a 27 inch scrap 2X4 and go at it (I prefer pine as it is flexier). Seriously, the poly needs to be restrung fairly regulary in order to take advantage of it's properties.

2) Good Timing - You need to make contact out 'in front' on every ground stroke. This allows your entire body force to withstand the force of the on coming ball. If you make late contact on occasion, the jarring of polyester is going to have an effect on your wrist, elbow or shoulder eventually.

3) You are hurting your game - When you switch to a poly, you are taking power away from the most important stroke in the game, the serve. You have to swing harder with poly to generate the same amount of power with a synthetic, much less a natural gut string. This can lead to bad form and injury.

4) Ball speed at lower level - Contrary to popular belief, the highest speed of a 5.0 ground stroke isn't that different than the highest speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. The deal is that the AVERAGE speed of a 5.0 ground stroke is much higher than the AVERAGE speed of a 3.5 ground stroke. When you are not returning heavy ground strokes consistently, it makes it harder on the poly to do it's job as intended. On a softer shot, the ball just doesn't move the strings on the racquet face like a harder shot will. I will say that stringing poly at lower tension can offset this point as well as the new SPIN, ESP type of frames as it allows the strings to move more. Modern technology works in this case!!!

5) Cost of strings - While polys appear cheap in comparison to multis and natural gut, the required replacement every few weeks quickly makes up for the price. If you are going to use poly all the time, you better have access to a stringer or a nice friend that has one.

6) Bad technique - With all the talk about the added benefit of poly, I have seen a disturbing trend with the students and players around the courts. These are the types of players that live and die for tennis, but try to emulate the pros by swinging straight up on the ball. I see a ton of players trying to be the next Nadal or Sharapova with their own version of the Buggy Whip forehand. In order to be a good solid tennis player you need to hit through the ball. Even Nadal and Sharapova hit through the ball far more often than they do the Buggy Whip. When these lower level players attempt to do these Buggy Whips it causes arm and shoulder injuries. The real benefit of the Buggy Whip is when you are on the run and can't meet the ball out front. It allows for later contact.


I'm sure I could come up with more, but I'm tired of typing and must get some work done. I will say that if you HAVE to use poly at the lower levels please string them lower (30 to 40 lbs range) to protect your joints and give your body a fighting chance.
Nice!

#6 About hitting through the ball: easier to do that with full bed natural gut, due to the pocketing effect that lets you keep the ball on the string as long as possible (something that both uncle Tony and my...23 year old girl coach are adamant about).

Happy 2015!
 
Well I am probably one of the least experienced and knowledgeable posters on this forum TBH but IMHO, modern racquets demand poly/copoly strings. I've tried using other types of strings in my Extreme 2.0 but that racquet (along with others, such as the APD) is just too dang powerful for anything other than a poly string. These modern racquets demand control and only poly/copoly strings offer that kind of control. YMMV
 

SC in MA

Professional
Very nice write up by TobyTopspin and comments from others.

I'm a long time USTA 4.5 player. Poly is probably my favorite string, but I don't use it because it destroys my arm. I know others who don't seem affected by it. But I also know others who have arm issues, yet continue to use it. For me, it's just not worth it. I've been able to play mostly pain free and have good results for many years without it. I don't recommend it to anyone except for high level (above 5.0) college and/or tournament players.

I mostly use a nat gut/syn gut hybrid, which works great for me. I've recently been hitting with an all syn gut string job (only because my latest racket came that way). I've been playing really well with the syn gut so I'm considering using it in the future.

The bottom line for me is that I think a syn gut or a multi should work fine for you.
 

Fintft

Legend
Well I am probably one of the least experienced and knowledgeable posters on this forum TBH but IMHO, modern racquets demand poly/copoly strings. I've tried using other types of strings in my Extreme 2.0 but that racquet (along with others, such as the APD) is just too dang powerful for anything other than a poly string. These modern racquets demand control and only poly/copoly strings offer that kind of control. YMMV
Sorry, but why do you call power oriented racquets such as APD "modern"? :)

One reason I've moved from Babolat AeroStorm Tour (and APD) to Wilson 6.1 95 was to get more control, to the detriment of power.
 
Sorry, but why do you call power oriented racquets such as APD "modern"? :)

One reason I've moved from Babolat AeroStorm Tour (and APD) to Wilson 6.1 95 was to get more control, to the detriment of power.
Because as a general rule of thumb, most newer (modern) racquets are quite a bit more powerful than classic (older/traditional) racquets.

Baseline bashing being the new trend and all. As you see I am using the terms newer/modern and classic/traditional interchangeably here as some use one or the other.
 
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