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US Open Tennis article advocates looser tensions for our racket strings

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by vip_m, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. vip_m

    vip_m Regular Member

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    The US Open 2009 is currently on-going, and a lot of tennis players are curious of what string tension their favorite players are using. In an in-depth article about string tension, the equipment pro emphasizes that if you want more power, then you need looser tension. If you need more control, then go for tighter tension.

    I feel pity for a lot of female players at my club who think by stringing their rackets to 24 or even 26 pounds they would be gaining power, when one can plainly see that their attacking clears just reach the mid-court when they're on the defensive. I was able to convince just one of them to try stringing at just 20 pounds and she was surprised at how much easier it was to send the shuttle deep.

    I have very good control, so I string my rackets at just 20 pounds so I have more power. I also asked former Indonesian Mixed doubles champion Minarti what she strings her racket at, and she said 24. Which is lower than the 26 pounds some of the class B female players at my club string at.

    Here's some quotes from the tennis article:

    "Some players string tight for better control."

    "Then there's Taylor Dent, who lives on the other side of the string-tension fence. His racquets are strung the loosest at only of 40 pounds, 10 pounds under the lower end of the recommended tension on his Wilson n Six-One 95. That provides him with some additional comfort he needs after coming off a pair of back surgeries, and gives him more bombs-away pop on his groundstrokes and serves which is part of the reason he hit a tournament-high 147 mph serve last week. The loose-string tradeoff is control, which is why you saw a lot of his volleys fly off the court..."

    http://tennisworld.typepad.com/the_pro_shop/2009/09/the-zing-in-the-pros-string.html
     
  2. hhwoot

    hhwoot Regular Member

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    Tennis is a different sport from badminton and use a different ball. There are many discussions on the topic of string tension in relation to badminton in this forum.

    For the matter of tennis racket tension, there are of course a lot of discussions on tennis forums. I will refer to this study:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/l462038606l155tg/

    The conclusion of the study can be summarized as:

    1) Racket speed at impact is the single most important factor in determining post-impact ball speed.

    2) Higher tension and lower racket stiffness produces slightly faster post-impact ball speed.

    3) Previous studies of this type found that higher tension produces slightly slower post-impact ball speed. The authors explain this as the result of more energy being transformed into spinning the ball by the higher tensioned strings.

    Now, back to badminton, I don't think there is much difference in terms of power between different string tensions. To clarify, a lower tension racket will have a larger sweetspot and will be easier to hit with. A higher tension racket will have a smaller sweetspot and will be more difficult to hit with.

    If someone is able to hit the sweetspot, then racket impact speed will override the minor influence of string tension.

    In both tennis and badminton, higher tensioned rackets will control better, up to a point. At very high tennis string tensions the feedback is very numb and it becomes difficult to control. In badminton, the shuttle will slide on the racket more at very high tension.
     
  3. uncle_peanuts

    uncle_peanuts Regular Member

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    it's a very deceiving topic. for amateur badminton players, hitting shuttles with looser strings will give you more power (more repulsion/give in the string) but less control.

    club players/pros use very tight strings (27>>) because 1) they know how to hit properly and 2) you get better feel with tight strings when hitting feather shuttles.
     
  4. Athelete1234

    Athelete1234 Regular Member

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    I string at 26lbs and feel that I gain great power as well as a crisp feel of the bird, making me more confident with my netplay and I feel I have a greater control of the shuttle bounce. When I try to use a racquet which is under 24lbs, it feels like a sponge and my racquet feels more like a trampoline compared to a more explosive catapult.
     
  5. Heong

    Heong Regular Member

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    It's not true, least for badminton it's not.

    Firstly, it depends on a player's skill level, if they're at a more professional level with really flexible wrists and clean strokes, then they should go for a higher tension which would benefit them more in terms of power.
    The tighter the tension, the more wrist snapping required and more repulsive the strings will be and clears, smashes and other power shots would be faster as well. These players tend to go for tensions pounds 28+.

    Where-as, a more beginner player would benefit more from a loose tension, as it does not require much effort to generate the energy. Think of a trampoline in this sense or the bow and arrow. These players tend to go for around tensions 20 to 24 pounds.
     
  6. Capnx

    Capnx Regular Member

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    well this isn't a very good scientific comparison.
    Holding the skill level constant, style constant, motion constant, strength constant... that is, holding everything constant, a looser string tension produces more repulsion compared to tighter string tension. Whether this repulsion = power, that's up to interpretation.
     
  7. weeyeh

    weeyeh Regular Member

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    Nonsense. If this theory is correct, a racket strung at 0lbf (fishing net) will have better repulsion than one at 22lbf.

    My own experience agrees with Athelete1234 and Heong. There is a specific tension range for each player.
     
  8. Athelete1234

    Athelete1234 Regular Member

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    This is how it works.

    Every player has a playable string tension range. For me, that's something around 24-28lbs.

    At the lower end, I gain power. The bird flies off because I can flex the strings without over flexing it. There is more of a trampoline effect though, so I cant' be as precise with how fast I want the bird to fly. So I gain more power, but less control.

    At 28lbs, the stringbed doesn't flex as much. I would have trouble flexing it, so I cannot take advantage of the rebound, and so I have less power. However, there is less trampoline effect; I can more precisely adjust how fast I want the bird to go. I would gain less power, but more control.

    For everybody, there is a different range. Don't be foolish and think that the range for everbody is 20-25lbs or something. Some people swing harder than overs (obviously), so their faster swings require a higher tension to maximize repulsion.

    The common "high = control, low= power" in the absolute sense is useless. Who says everybody is the same? But relatively, it is correct, though a person's tension range must be known.
     
  9. Shifty

    Shifty Regular Member

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    As long as you can consistently hit it, then tension doesn't really matter. However, I too believe that higher tensions (provided you can hit the sweet spot and with enough swing speed) gives more power
     
  10. Danstevens

    Danstevens Regular Member

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    The physics of badminton are very different to those of tennis. If you string a tennis racket tightly, the tennis ball deforms when it is struck, this takes some power away from you. The shuttle in badminton doesn't really deform so if you can hit hard enough to make a tighter stringbed bend, you will find more repulsion from it. If you string too tight, you'll have very little control or power and this is the same if you string too low. There is no hard and fast rule in badminton as to what sort of tension range gives the best power because it is too dependent on the player.
     
  11. jafffa

    jafffa Regular Member

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    This seems to be how i understand it, and it agrees with this.
    Just thought of an analagy that make alot of sense (to me anyway) and is easy to see in your head.
    Say a child jumps on a failty loosely sprung trampoline, the trampoline flexes in and then repulses him out.
    If an adult then jumps on this same trampoline he will cause it to flex as much as it can and he will not be repulsed, he will merely stay standing on it.

    The child then jumps on an extremely high tension trampoline, the trampoline does not flex in and he just lands on it and receives no repulsion.
    The adult jumps this same trampoline and it flexes in and he is repulsed (same degree as child the first senario perhaps).
    Given then momentum is equal to weight multiplied by velocity then it begins to make sense. To achieve maximum repulsion then a weaker shot needs a lower tension to achieve the trampoline effect and and a stronger shot would need a higher tension...
    At least it makes sense to me...
     
  12. Nuetronist

    Nuetronist Regular Member

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    Yes, I would have to say that is exactly how I think it is.

    If you have a faster swing there is more velocity and therefore energy behind it. Now with that basic premise in mind let's look at string tension.

    If we look at bending the strings in the racket we can conclude that a higher tension requires more force to push it inwards, and less tension requires less energy to bend inwards. This is true because the higher tension of the string raises the elastic constant (k) of the string. If we look at the elastic formula F=kx, where f is force, k is the elastic constant and x is displacement from equilibrium. From this formula we can see that the higher the elastic constant, the higher the force must be to get the same displacement.

    Now, assuming negligible friction, when you stop applying force to the string bed it will
    return to it's equilibrium position with the SAME amount of force you applied. If we look at our initial premise, that higher swing speed = more energy, we see that in a case of a high string tension and a high swing speed and a case of a slower swing speed and lower tension will cause the same displacement in the spring bed. HOWEVER the difference comes when the string must transmit energy back to the shuttle. Refer back to the conclusion we made in my earlier paragraph, weser that the higher tension and swing speed will transmit more energy back to the shuttle, resulting in a greater acceleration.
     

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