String Bed Density and the One-Handed Backhand

Bobby O

New User
I know that the topic of the best racquet for a one-handed backhand has been discussed numerous times on this forum, but one area that does not seem to have been addressed as far as I can tell, yet I think is relevant, is how string bed density affects the one-handed backhand. I won’t reference string “patterns” here, since there are some 18x20 patterns that can have about the same density as some 16x19s. In general, though, is a tighter, denser string bed better for the one-handed backhand (i.e., better control and accuracy), or is a somewhat less dense string bed more desirable (i.e., better net clearance and more pop on your shot). Or, on the other hand, maybe string bed density really doesn’t matter at all and it just comes down to personal preference. I am very close to pulling the trigger on a 95 square inch 18x20 racquet (not too dense) but am a little concerned that it may not be the best match for my one-handed backhand. Love you hear your thoughts.
 

blablavla

Hall of Fame
I know that the topic of the best racquet for a one-handed backhand has been discussed numerous times on this forum, but one area that does not seem to have been addressed as far as I can tell, yet I think is relevant, is how string bed density affects the one-handed backhand. I won’t reference string “patterns” here, since there are some 18x20 patterns that can have about the same density as some 16x19s. In general, though, is a tighter, denser string bed better for the one-handed backhand (i.e., better control and accuracy), or is a somewhat less dense string bed more desirable (i.e., better net clearance and more pop on your shot). Or, on the other hand, maybe string bed density really doesn’t matter at all and it just comes down to personal preference. I am very close to pulling the trigger on a 95 square inch 18x20 racquet (not too dense) but am a little concerned that it may not be the best match for my one-handed backhand. Love you hear your thoughts.
can you demo the racket before buying?
 

Bobby O

New User
I demoed both the 18x20 and 16x19. To be honest, I think I will need to demo them again. I just loved the pinpoint accuracy and control of the 18x20, yet could not ignore that the shot was just a bit easier with the 16x19. I will say, however, that for a 95 square inch head, I think the 18x20 demo was strung a bit tighter than I would have strung it and that was skewing my perception a bit. The racquet, BTW, is the Dunlop Srixon CX 200 Tour.
 

Kevo

Legend
If you hit a similar style stroke on both wings then it's a non-issue. If you're backhand is flat and you like spin on your forehand then you have a decision to make on which stroke do you pick the pattern for. Do you emphasize your strength or shore up your weakness.

Personally I switched to 18x20 years ago and I would always go with a denser pattern. I like control over power and I also appreciate the additional string life on the denser pattern.
 

Bobby O

New User
SW forehand and eastern backhand. I employ some spin, but not excessive amounts. I am leaning toward the denser pattern myself, but because of the head size, was just a little apprehensive about it not having enough penetration or net clearance on the backhand side. I would, however, be weighting them up to around 12.3 ounces or so, which would definitely help. And yes, Tata, the 16x20 VCORE 95 was a racquet I was also looking at closely. I think, though, that I will end up going with one of the Dunlops, as I really like them.
 

Big Bagel

Professional
I prefer the denser pattern, especially on the one hand backhand. Yeah, there are occasions where I'd prefer a slightly more open pattern for the spin, depth, and launch angle, but I think the majority of the time I prefer the denser pattern, plus I find it easier to just tell myself to hit a little higher with more spin when I need it as opposed to the other way around, needing a little more accuracy.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
I find that an 18x20 works wonder on my slice, but I lack net clearance on a OHBH drive.

I have chosen the CX 200 Tour 16x19 over the 18x20 version specifically to have a bit more clearance and security on all my ground strokes.

By the way, for a 16x19, it still has a relatively low launch angle, so I would be concerned that the 18x20 version ends up playing extremely flat, like my Prince 93P. And I find I still hit a really good slice with the 16x19, so I don't feel I've lost much there.
 

Bobby O

New User
Thank you both. I think everyone will have a different opinion on this, which is the whole point of this forum! I agree that the 16x19 has dense pattern properties and vice versa, and that is actually what makes the decision more difficult. My understanding is that it would play somewhere in between the 16x19 and the 93P (i.e., not as flat as the 93P), but maybe that is not correct. Flanker, I’m curious if the 18x20 you tried was weighted up or not, because I think most people find it to lack penetration at its stock weight.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I think that racquet head size is a big factor and that string density is a consequence of racquet head size.
 

Bobby O

New User
I think that racquet head size is a big factor and that string density is a consequence of racquet head size.
Absolutely - and to go even further, racquet manufacturers (such as Dunlop) are changing the spacing on the 18x20 to make it play less dense than a traditionally spaced 18x20.
 

aussie

Professional
For me personally I find that a 16x19 suits my OHBH more than an 18x20 because of the higher launch angle combined with greater spin to bring the ball down.

However my dilemma is that my forehand is better with the lower launch angle of the 18 x20 because I hit harder and have a higher follow through with the forehand over the backhand. So I tend to use the 16x19 more because opponents attack the backhand more so a good backhand is essential.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
For me personally I find that a 16x19 suits my OHBH more than an 18x20 because of the higher launch angle combined with greater spin to bring the ball down.

However my dilemma is that my forehand is better with the lower launch angle of the 18 x20 because I hit harder and have a higher follow through with the forehand over the backhand. So I tend to use the 16x19 more because opponents attack the backhand more so a good backhand is essential.
I went with favoring the forehand with equipment because I run around a lot of backhands.
 

Bobby O

New User
For me personally I find that a 16x19 suits my OHBH more than an 18x20 because of the higher launch angle combined with greater spin to bring the ball down.

However my dilemma is that my forehand is better with the lower launch angle of the 18 x20 because I hit harder and have a higher follow through with the forehand over the backhand. So I tend to use the 16x19 more because opponents attack the backhand more so a good backhand is essential.
Interesting, Aussie. Judging from the responses so far, it seems that more people like a more open pattern for the OHBH. One thing I have noticed with the current pros is that while many still use a 95 square inch head, none use a 95 “18x20” with a OHBH. Any OHBH user with an 18x20 string bed is using a larger head size than a 95 ... which leads me to believe that they need more net clearance, pop, etc. on that shot. If I am missing someone, please correct me! But that realization is partially why I started this thread.
 

max

Legend
Hard to resolve this one. I have SW forehand and regular OHBH grip. I used to use 16 x 19 in a 98 sqinch. frame----and came to it from a Dunlop Max 200G with its 18x20 in an 85 sqinch. head!

First thing I noticed was the higher launch angle---and quickly learned I had to apply spin to control the ball! :)

NOW I'm going to a Prince Phantom 93P 18x 20. Yes, I liked the spin on the other frame, but the precision matters to me. I liked the 16 x 19 because I feel it kept me from hitting groundstrokes into the net. Consistency is a plus there. But where I'm at as a player now, well, that "hitting into the net" stuff doesn't much apply. The Prince just moves through the air so well, and I can brush top on it.

String density in that 95 does matter, and generally I'd second the notion that a more open string pattern helps you grab the ball more on the backhand.

One neat trick I'm learning is the hard flat forehand drive---it really messes with all those "loopy topspin" guys expecting time to get to the corner and hit a loopy shot. It's killer.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Interesting, Aussie. Judging from the responses so far, it seems that more people like a more open pattern for the OHBH. One thing I have noticed with the current pros is that while many still use a 95 square inch head, none use a 95 “18x20” with a OHBH. Any OHBH user with an 18x20 string bed is using a larger head size than a 95 ... which leads me to believe that they need more net clearance, pop, etc. on that shot. If I am missing someone, please correct me! But that realization is partially why I started this thread.
I think you're lucky that you can demo both frames and do your own comparison. If you can do your best to check your assumptions at the door (or maybe the gate?), just have a go with each and try to do a little of everything; volleys, baseline rallies, serves, returns, etc. If these were two completely different models from different companies, I'd expect one to give you a more natural fit than the other without needing much time to sort that out. But these frames apparently only have different string layouts.

I'm encouraging you to dump your assumptions just because I don't want you to miss out on a diamond in the rough. I've owned and sampled enough racquets through the last two decades to be convinced that we can get all sorts of performance from all sorts of frames with different string patterns. I've owned open-pattern rigs that offered me almost no spin or control despite trying several different string types and tensions, but I've also played with a couple of dense-pattern frames that had as much spin potential for me as anything I've ever used.

The good news with that Dunlop is that you generally like the racquet. The differences between the two string patterns will be subtle and you can also tweak them with different options of strings and tensions to get more of a feel and response that you like. There's probably no right or wrong answer, so just trust your demo impressions. And if you can't decide... don't. Get one of each!!
 

Bobby O

New User
Hard to resolve this one. I have SW forehand and regular OHBH grip. I used to use 16 x 19 in a 98 sqinch. frame----and came to it from a Dunlop Max 200G with its 18x20 in an 85 sqinch. head!

First thing I noticed was the higher launch angle---and quickly learned I had to apply spin to control the ball! :)

NOW I'm going to a Prince Phantom 93P 18x 20. Yes, I liked the spin on the other frame, but the precision matters to me. I liked the 16 x 19 because I feel it kept me from hitting groundstrokes into the net. Consistency is a plus there. But where I'm at as a player now, well, that "hitting into the net" stuff doesn't much apply. The Prince just moves through the air so well, and I can brush top on it.

String density in that 95 does matter, and generally I'd second the notion that a more open string pattern helps you grab the ball more on the backhand.

One neat trick I'm learning is the hard flat forehand drive---it really messes with all those "loopy topspin" guys expecting time to get to the corner and hit a loopy shot. It's killer.
Thanks, Max - I think I’m in your camp. Spin is nice, but I don’t want it as a REQUIREMENT to keep the ball in. The CX 200 Tour 18x20 should provide enough of it for me and is great on my forehand. If I feel comfortable enough with it on the backhand side, then I think I would be good to go. Enjoy your 93P!
 

Bobby O

New User
I think you're lucky that you can demo both frames and do your own comparison. If you can do your best to check your assumptions at the door (or maybe the gate?), just have a go with each and try to do a little of everything; volleys, baseline rallies, serves, returns, etc. If these were two completely different models from different companies, I'd expect one to give you a more natural fit than the other without needing much time to sort that out. But these frames apparently only have different string layouts.

I'm encouraging you to dump your assumptions just because I don't want you to miss out on a diamond in the rough. I've owned and sampled enough racquets through the last two decades to be convinced that we can get all sorts of performance from all sorts of frames with different string patterns. I've owned open-pattern rigs that offered me almost no spin or control despite trying several different string types and tensions, but I've also played with a couple of dense-pattern frames that had as much spin potential for me as anything I've ever used.

The good news with that Dunlop is that you generally like the racquet. The differences between the two string patterns will be subtle and you can also tweak them with different options of strings and tensions to get more of a feel and response that you like. There's probably no right or wrong answer, so just trust your demo impressions. And if you can't decide... don't. Get one of each!!
Thanks, Fuzz Nation. I think that is really good advice, except for the last part ... one of each would have me going back and forth between them for the rest of my life!! But seriously, I agree that they are quite close and can be made even closer with tweaking. I guess that is part of why the decision is difficult. But approaching them with a totally open mind is a smart way to go about it. Thanks to you and everyone for their input.
 

Kevo

Legend
I am leaning toward the denser pattern myself, but because of the head size, was just a little apprehensive about it not having enough penetration or net clearance on the backhand side.
Personally I don't quite understand this sort of thinking. I've played with everything from a 110" to a 65" frame. Currently I play with an 82" I think. Can't find clear specs for the old Rossignol's, but I think it's 82". I've played with 18x20 and now a 16x17 but on a small head. I have never attributed penetration or net clearance to the frame. I attribute those things to the shot I choose to hit. What I do notice is that the denser and smaller heads are more precise. In other words the range of results you get for the same stroke are less variant. Of course if you go too small then that can be limiting in terms of spin, but 95 vs 98 or 100 is nothing to worry about IMO. There's very little difference between those. The only frame I've had to worry about the OHBH with is the small 65" wood frames. Hitting good spin with those is tough and you have to be choosy. I hit a lot more drives and slice. Everything else is fine for me. Well, I should exclude really thick beams. Thick beams are yucky IMO, probably because I like to spin my OHBH. I go for 20mm and less usually.

I would encourage you to try out the frames first. Pick one that you like the feel of hitting with. If you can find several you like then concentrate on the other attributes. Don't get hung up to much on pattern. Denser is more precise and has better string life, but if you're happy with a less dense frame's precision and don't break strings, then those points don't help you much.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
Thank you both. I think everyone will have a different opinion on this, which is the whole point of this forum! I agree that the 16x19 has dense pattern properties and vice versa, and that is actually what makes the decision more difficult. My understanding is that it would play somewhere in between the 16x19 and the 93P (i.e., not as flat as the 93P), but maybe that is not correct. Flanker, I’m curious if the 18x20 you tried was weighted up or not, because I think most people find it to lack penetration at its stock weight.
I didn't try the 18x20 as I was concerned that it would be too close to the specs of the 93P, with less power due to the lower static weight / swing weight. Demo was not available, so I didn't take the chance to buy it.

Took a bit of a leap of faith buying the CX 200 Tour 16x19, which I really like, but have a bit of trouble adjusting with due to the much lower than anticipated launch angle for an open string pattern. It plays much closer to the 93P 18x20 than the 93P 14x18 from that perspective. I have it strung with Hyper G 16L, will try it in a 17 gauge to see if it helps.
 

Bobby O

New User
Personally I don't quite understand this sort of thinking. I've played with everything from a 110" to a 65" frame. Currently I play with an 82" I think. Can't find clear specs for the old Rossignol's, but I think it's 82". I've played with 18x20 and now a 16x17 but on a small head. I have never attributed penetration or net clearance to the frame. I attribute those things to the shot I choose to hit. What I do notice is that the denser and smaller heads are more precise. In other words the range of results you get for the same stroke are less variant. Of course if you go too small then that can be limiting in terms of spin, but 95 vs 98 or 100 is nothing to worry about IMO. There's very little difference between those. The only frame I've had to worry about the OHBH with is the small 65" wood frames. Hitting good spin with those is tough and you have to be choosy. I hit a lot more drives and slice. Everything else is fine for me. Well, I should exclude really thick beams. Thick beams are yucky IMO, probably because I like to spin my OHBH. I go for 20mm and less usually.

I would encourage you to try out the frames first. Pick one that you like the feel of hitting with. If you can find several you like then concentrate on the other attributes. Don't get hung up to much on pattern. Denser is more precise and has better string life, but if you're happy with a less dense frame's precision and don't break strings, then those points don't help you much.
Like you, my preference is for a denser string pattern and a thinner beam (around 20 mm or so). In the end, I think the two racquets are quite similar and either one would suit me well and it is more splitting hairs at this point. Thanks.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
I know that the topic of the best racquet for a one-handed backhand has been discussed numerous times on this forum, but one area that does not seem to have been addressed as far as I can tell, yet I think is relevant, is how string bed density affects the one-handed backhand. I won’t reference string “patterns” here, since there are some 18x20 patterns that can have about the same density as some 16x19s. In general, though, is a tighter, denser string bed better for the one-handed backhand (i.e., better control and accuracy), or is a somewhat less dense string bed more desirable (i.e., better net clearance and more pop on your shot). Or, on the other hand, maybe string bed density really doesn’t matter at all and it just comes down to personal preference. I am very close to pulling the trigger on a 95 square inch 18x20 racquet (not too dense) but am a little concerned that it may not be the best match for my one-handed backhand. Love you hear your thoughts.

I have hit my 1HBH with every pattern, size, weight, etc. racquet, and of those I think head size/sweet spot makes the most difference. Using open string pattern might give a slight bit more grab on the ball for spin, but that isn't to say the 18x20 I use doesn't get plenty of spin. Basically, while there may be some statistics that support improvements from a racquet, I just haven't seen too many produce big enough changes to make that the reason to choose it over another. Comes down to what stick works best all-around on all strokes for you.
 
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