I hit very flat around my body...which is best: spin vs smooth strings?

mxmx

Hall of Fame
I mostly play with Wilson blade rackets strung with grey solinco strings at 55 and have a prince tour strung with solinco barb wire. I have used many strings in the past and used to be a string breaker. Either strings got better, I have lost power or I'm hitting cleaner but I do not break anywhere close as many strings as I used to (although I played with wilson surge and prince exo tour 100 back then strung at 60).

Anyways, this is not about durability of strings. I want to know the different advantages of spin vs smooth poly strings in general...

I definitely feel more power on the serve with some strings, but specifically with groundstrokes it's less clear what I should be playing with.

My technique on the forehand is mostly power based but flat and some spin. Very low net clearance and quite deep and fast. My follow through is mostly around my body instead of around the shoulder. The problem for me is that I want more margin and was wondering if spin strings will help the launch angle? So far spin strings for me feel less comfortable on flat shots.

Another strange thing is that my strokes always get better and feel better when the strings are close to breaking. Perhaps they slide better in the grooves or has lost tension?
 

WNB93

Rookie
As far as my research goes, spin strings will have a higher launch angle and the balls will sail more if you do not put spin on it. Which happens to me if my RH speed is not high enough or I dont finish all the way across the shoulder as you put it.

Looking forward to different views on smooth vs shaped polys (smooth vs spin).
 

emhtennis

Semi-Pro
Launch angle is first determined by the racket and string pattern. 18x20 will be lower than 16x19, etc.

Next is string gauge and tension. Thinner string will have higher launch angle. Lower tension will have higher launch angle. If you want a fun test, string your blade with 1.18mm string (or lower) at 45lbs. Adjust from there.

I am a shaped-poly-man myself. But in all fairness I have never really tried a smooth. I went from cheap synthetic gut to Hyper-G and it was like playing a different game! Since then I've tried all kinds of shaped polys and liked them all for different reasons. But mainly because of the extra and exaggerated spin I can get.

Well, that last paragraph was a slight lie. I just cut out the Crossfire ZX hybrid. Kevlar mains and Zyex (Smooth poly) crosses. That hybrid true to advertisement had crazy spin.

Buy a few different sets and enjoy the adventure.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
I play with and string for a guy in his early 60's who is a 4.5 and hits extremely flat and hard. He has amazing hands and stands resolutely on the baseline short hopping every deep ball back with minimal net clearance. He's one of those guys who you watch and think he can't possibly keep up that small margin for error but he does. I've watched closely from the sidelines and his maximum topspin shot has about ten revolutions from baseline to baseline.

He uses Element 1.25 and has tried some shaped strings like Cyclone and Silver 7 Tour but all they do for him is increase the sensitivity to incoming ball spin without giving him any more spin. Shaped strings only help generate additional spin and alter launch angle if there is some substantial vertical component to the swingpath and he doesn't have enough for a string to make a difference, but the increased sensitivity to incoming spin eroded his slim margin for error so he played worse, becoming more susceptible to heavy underspin shots that would come off the court with no spin or still a bit of backspin.

If you're like him, he has a really good innate sense of the racquet head angle necessary depending on the incoming angle of the ball, and can make fine adjustments to get consistency based on that. He isn't good at intuitively opening or closing his racquet face based on how much vertical component his swing has, nor in judging how much spin the ball has at his contact point and how much a shaped string requires him to adjust for that.

If you want more spin and the ability to have more net clearance, you'll need to work on swingpath. No string will give you more spin without that.
 

emhtennis

Semi-Pro
The above is a really good point. If you play table tennis / ping pong a shaped string can be likened to a high quality smooth rubber built for power and spin, but is also equally vulnerable to opponents spin.

In OP's case, I would recommend and thin smooth poly, to give a higher launch angle without converting opponent spin into something he doesn't want.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
For @mxmx I can only think of one grey Solinco string and that is Tour Bite/Soft/Rough. That's a low-medium powered, crisp playing string that for me has played decently well late into its life. The OP likes the feel after the string has notched/locked and has lost some of that tension and crispness so I'd probably recommend something like Pro Line Evolution at a slightly lower starting tension, around 52 pounds or so. As long as the OP doesn't mind the color.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
For @mxmx I can only think of one grey Solinco string and that is Tour Bite/Soft/Rough. That's a low-medium powered, crisp playing string that for me has played decently well late into its life. The OP likes the feel after the string has notched/locked and has lost some of that tension and crispness so I'd probably recommend something like Pro Line Evolution at a slightly lower starting tension, around 52 pounds or so. As long as the OP doesn't mind the color.
Yes, it's the tour bite, but I must say it does not come across as a spin string at all. Feels rather dead compared to some other strings I've used. Also perhaps my rackets are muting the "crisp" feel you mention.

Before I start going into specific brands of strings, I want to first find out the general differences between spin and smooth strings...i.e. what it actually does to the ball or how "feel" compares.

Also, one would assume that certain strings slide better and notch quicker? I think I like it more when my strings slide. Whether I will be using smooth or spin strings, I'm thinking of going 50 this time.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
Yes, it's the tour bite, but I must say it does not come across as a spin string at all. Feels rather dead compared to some other strings I've used. Also perhaps my rackets are muting the "crisp" feel you mention.

Before I start going into specific brands of strings, I want to first find out the general differences between spin and smooth strings...i.e. what it actually does to the ball or how "feel" compares.

Also, one would assume that certain strings slide better and notch quicker? I think I like it more when my strings slide. Whether I will be using smooth or spin strings, I'm thinking of going 50 this time.
In general, round strings experience a smaller change in launch angle when you change the amount of vertical trajectory in your swing. So if you're a player that's good at vertically squaring up the stringbed to the ball over a wide range of contact heights, you're going to prefer a round string. If you have a tendency to close your racquet face on higher balls and open it up more on low shots, you'd likely prefer a shaped string.

I'm in the second camp, and it's why I prefer shaped strings. When I play with a round string, I tend to flatten out my swingpath because that instinctively makes me keep the stringbed more vertical. If I take my normal swing with a round poly and I'm trying to hit a heavier topspin shot, those will either have very low net clearance or go into the net due to the smaller increase in launch angle. You may find that if you use a shaped string, you'll tend to swing in a way that allows you to generate more spin. The only real way to know is to try it.

As far as "feel", IMO there's a greater difference in feel between different types of string than there is between round and shaped strings. I think many people would agree that Tour Bite is among the more crisp feeling strings, but the similar shaped Hyper-G is pretty muted. You can find round strings to replicate the impact feel of each of those strings.

Earlier, you said you liked Tour Bite right before it breaks. At that point, it is notched and the interstring friction increases so it takes greater force to move a string. That lowers launch angle so a reasonable guess would be that you like lower powered, low launch angle stringbeds. Maybe try something like RPM Power? I was part of that playtest and found it to have a consistently low launch angle, but otherwise played pretty well for flatter shots.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
In general, round strings experience a smaller change in launch angle when you change the amount of vertical trajectory in your swing. So if you're a player that's good at vertically squaring up the stringbed to the ball over a wide range of contact heights, you're going to prefer a round string. If you have a tendency to close your racquet face on higher balls and open it up more on low shots, you'd likely prefer a shaped string.

I'm in the second camp, and it's why I prefer shaped strings. When I play with a round string, I tend to flatten out my swingpath because that instinctively makes me keep the stringbed more vertical. If I take my normal swing with a round poly and I'm trying to hit a heavier topspin shot, those will either have very low net clearance or go into the net due to the smaller increase in launch angle. You may find that if you use a shaped string, you'll tend to swing in a way that allows you to generate more spin. The only real way to know is to try it.

As far as "feel", IMO there's a greater difference in feel between different types of string than there is between round and shaped strings. I think many people would agree that Tour Bite is among the more crisp feeling strings, but the similar shaped Hyper-G is pretty muted. You can find round strings to replicate the impact feel of each of those strings.

Earlier, you said you liked Tour Bite right before it breaks. At that point, it is notched and the interstring friction increases so it takes greater force to move a string. That lowers launch angle so a reasonable guess would be that you like lower powered, low launch angle stringbeds. Maybe try something like RPM Power? I was part of that playtest and found it to have a consistently low launch angle, but otherwise played pretty well for flatter shots.
Thank you for a detailed post and feedback :)

Unless I order online, I do not have many options for strings as some people may do. The "feel" comments also make sense.

At the moment the main strings I can look at or afford are the solinco barb wire, solinco revolution, hyper g and outlast. The latter actually lasted too long and I did not like the feel. There was another smooth neon red string I liked which could have possibly been the technifibre pro red...but I'm not sure as I could not identify it.

If I want to get other string types like diadem or babolat, I'd have to almost pay double and also very inconvenient with some tennis stores.

What is your take on wilson string savers? I used to extend the life of my strings quite some bit and it potentially added power. Do you know what the mechanics of string savers do, especially the blue rubbery wilson kind?
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
Thank you for a detailed post and feedback :)

Unless I order online, I do not have many options for strings as some people may do. The "feel" comments also make sense.

At the moment the main strings I can look at or afford are the solinco barb wire, solinco revolution, hyper g and outlast. The latter actually lasted too long and I did not like the feel. There was another smooth neon red string I liked which could have possibly been the technifibre pro red...but I'm not sure as I could not identify it.

If I want to get other string types like diadem or babolat, I'd have to almost pay double and also very inconvenient with some tennis stores.

What is your take on wilson string savers? I used to extend the life of my strings quite some bit and it potentially added power. Do you know what the mechanics of string savers do, especially the blue rubbery wilson kind?
I have no experience with Barb Wire nor with Outlast, and don't even know if they are round or shaped. I personally wouldn't recommend Revolution or Hyper-G for a flatter hitter and would suggest starting with a round string.

String savers basically prevent the mains and crosses from sawing into each other. They will slightly increase the tension on the stringbed, and with few exceptions will make poly strings more resistant to sliding against each other. This increases the impact shock you'll feel, and will decrease spin capability and lower launch angle. I'm not sure how they could increase power other than by the weight that is added to the hoop area of the racquet, and I don't really see any advantages that strings savers can provide that you can't get by changing tension, string models, or string gauge in a full poly setup.

Going back to your original post - you wrote this:

mxmx said:
My technique on the forehand is mostly power based but flat and some spin. Very low net clearance and quite deep and fast. My follow through is mostly around my body instead of around the shoulder. The problem for me is that I want more margin and was wondering if spin strings will help the launch angle? So far spin strings for me feel less comfortable on flat shots.
I think you can get what you want by a very slight increase in the upward trajectory of your swingpath, and just continue to use the strings which you are most confident hitting with. Even a few revolutions, as little as 10-15 revolutions from baseline to baseline, will make a difference of a few feet in how long the shot travels through the air, and you can achieve that with probably just a 5 degree increase in . This will let you increase your margin over the net by a little bit, which will relatively be a fairly large amount because you now play with minimal clearance. With that lower rate of spin, the kind of string will make minimal difference so whatever is easiest for you to get and gives you good comfort would be the way to go.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
I have no experience with Barb Wire nor with Outlast, and don't even know if they are round or shaped. I personally wouldn't recommend Revolution or Hyper-G for a flatter hitter and would suggest starting with a round string.

String savers basically prevent the mains and crosses from sawing into each other. They will slightly increase the tension on the stringbed, and with few exceptions will make poly strings more resistant to sliding against each other. This increases the impact shock you'll feel, and will decrease spin capability and lower launch angle. I'm not sure how they could increase power other than by the weight that is added to the hoop area of the racquet, and I don't really see any advantages that strings savers can provide that you can't get by changing tension, string models, or string gauge in a full poly setup.

Going back to your original post - you wrote this:



I think you can get what you want by a very slight increase in the upward trajectory of your swingpath, and just continue to use the strings which you are most confident hitting with. Even a few revolutions, as little as 10-15 revolutions from baseline to baseline, will make a difference of a few feet in how long the shot travels through the air, and you can achieve that with probably just a 5 degree increase in . This will let you increase your margin over the net by a little bit, which will relatively be a fairly large amount because you now play with minimal clearance. With that lower rate of spin, the kind of string will make minimal difference so whatever is easiest for you to get and gives you good comfort would be the way to go.
Thank you for a sensible post. I knew I had to possibly alter my swingpath and just wanted a quick fix via strings. I guess I needed to hear this from someone else...
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
Ps. I think I should try shaped strings again. It's very hard to get rid of my "around the body" swingpath...the muscle memory is just too grooved. But I will also practice this specifically.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Ps. I think I should try shaped strings again. It's very hard to get rid of my "around the body" swingpath...the muscle memory is just too grooved. But I will also practice this specifically.
Flattish strokes are perfectly fine in tennis and many professionals prior to Nadal used them to great success and they'd all still beat the pants off most 3.5-4.5 players today. And they all did so without polyester.

If you swing flat I'd suggest play with a players racket and a gut poly hybrid. It will offer a bit higher launch angle and still spin nicely. The players frame will provide better accuracy so you can hit those tighter margins more reliably. Using flatter strokes with a tweener frame and poly strings seems like a bad match.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
Flattish strokes are perfectly fine in tennis and many professionals prior to Nadal used them to great success and they'd all still beat the pants off most 3.5-4.5 players today. And they all did so without polyester.

If you swing flat I'd suggest play with a players racket and a gut poly hybrid. It will offer a bit higher launch angle and still spin nicely. The players frame will provide better accuracy so you can hit those tighter margins more reliably. Using flatter strokes with a tweener frame and poly strings seems like a bad match.
I wish I had match footage because I'm not sure I'm being accurate enough with my words.

I "can" hit lots of topspin and often do, especially when I try to pass someone or get the ball on their feet or lets say a topspin lob. But my default "best shot" is normally low rpm (although it has some topspin) and low over the net. Power on the forehand is not a problem. But my topspin backhand isn't half the quality of my forehand (in matches. Outside matches it's perhaps 60% the quality). My slice is good though and I can cope with small frames on the slice). Over the weekend I had good topspin winners at times. Just hard getting rid of my existing flat muscle memory. It's almost a mindset.

A players frame? I play with a tweener 98" and have had success with a 95" (although too demanding on bh and serve). I also like 100" for power but it feels sluggish to swing at times. I only play great with smaller frames when im peaking or on form, and yes then they are better than the 100" or even 98". But not being that young makes it very hard work so I balance things by using a 98".

My blade is quite new so I have to stick with only changing strings to spin atm. Another thing, strange as it may seem worth changing, will be my grip size which also seems to play a role which is a bit unclear. (I don't think it's the weight though but how it feels in my hand).
 

Rosstour

Legend
Another strange thing is that my strokes always get better and feel better when the strings are close to breaking. Perhaps they slide better in the grooves or has lost tension?
Not just you. Two of my racquets were playing awesome recently, looked down and the crosses were fraying. Broke strings in both of them that day, both times hitting massive FH winners off of a fast first serve.
 

aaron_h27

Professional
Flattish strokes are perfectly fine in tennis and many professionals prior to Nadal used them to great success and they'd all still beat the pants off most 3.5-4.5 players today. And they all did so without polyester.

If you swing flat I'd suggest play with a players racket and a gut poly hybrid. It will offer a bit higher launch angle and still spin nicely. The players frame will provide better accuracy so you can hit those tighter margins more reliably. Using flatter strokes with a tweener frame and poly strings seems like a bad match.
I don't think gut/poly is good for flat hitters IMO, high launch angle is not good for flat hitting, have to slow down the swing to keep it in. Full round poly, or poly/gut would be better. Based on my experience.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I wish I had match footage because I'm not sure I'm being accurate enough with my words.

I "can" hit lots of topspin and often do, especially when I try to pass someone or get the ball on their feet or lets say a topspin lob. But my default "best shot" is normally low rpm (although it has some topspin) and low over the net. Power on the forehand is not a problem. But my topspin backhand isn't half the quality of my forehand (in matches. Outside matches it's perhaps 60% the quality). My slice is good though and I can cope with small frames on the slice). Over the weekend I had good topspin winners at times. Just hard getting rid of my existing flat muscle memory. It's almost a mindset.

A players frame? I play with a tweener 98" and have had success with a 95" (although too demanding on bh and serve). I also like 100" for power but it feels sluggish to swing at times. I only play great with smaller frames when im peaking or on form, and yes then they are better than the 100" or even 98". But not being that young makes it very hard work so I balance things by using a 98".

My blade is quite new so I have to stick with only changing strings to spin atm. Another thing, strange as it may seem worth changing, will be my grip size which also seems to play a role which is a bit unclear. (I don't think it's the weight though but how it feels in my hand).
Well a Blade is kind of the Player's tweener so it's a good racket choice for someone with both topspin and flattish strokes.

When i was playing with a Blade I recall really liking Velocity in that frame. Moderate power, moderate spin. Kind of perfect for a racket between and control frame and a power/spin frame. String it at 50 in the 18x20 or 54 in the 16x19.

In general I still like gut/poly if you want the best mix of comfort/spin/control/feel/playability. You'll never match the spin of a shaped poly mains hybrided with smooth poly crosses, but at rec levels the risk to arm health isn't worth that teeny performance boost.
 

LOBALOT

Hall of Fame
I hit the ball pretty flat off the forehand and use more top and back spin on my one-handed backhand. However, what I think also needs to come into consideration is the serve. I do hit with decent spin and do have a kicker. For me what I like is either gut/poly which helps me with spin on my serve/backhand but also is comfortable for my flat forehand... or... A shaped and softer/powerful poly like Volkl Cyclone tour which offers some of those same attributes. I have tried round polys and those tend to be more control oriented strings and I just don't have the game to benefit from them especially at my age and where I am at.
 
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