The Beginner’s Guide to Tennis Strings

There are plenty of tennis racket stringing guides out there, but often what you want is a simple reference, especially when you’re a beginner.

There are 3 basic tennis string properties to be aware of:
string tension, string thickness (gauge), and string material.

Tennis racket string tension is measured in “pounds per square inch”, but is most commonly written simply in terms of pounds, like this: “50lbs”

Low Tension = 30-40lbs
Medium Tension = 40-50lbs
High Tension = 50lbs+

HIGHER string tension = HIGHER control (and LOWER power)
LOWER string tension = LOWER control (and HIGHER power)

[If you’re curious why, it is because of the “trampoline effect.” Imagine you have a very tightly wound trampoline and you shoot a cannon ball at it. When it bounces, it wouldn’t travel as fast, but it would travel in a straight line. Almost as if it it hit a wall. Now imagine if your trampoline was looser/more elastic. The cannonball ball would then shoot back at a faster pace, but the direction of its bounce would vary. In tennis, the trampoline is the racket and the cannonball is the ball!]

If you’re a beginning tennis player, our advice is to go with a medium string tension (~45-50lbs) or even a slightly lower one. This is especially recommended if you have any existing hand/wrist/arm injuries.

When you become more advanced, you can experiment with a higher string tension if you want more control, but only once you’ve built up some muscles where they’re needed. Keep in mind your strings will not last nearly as long with a higher string tension, which ends up being more expensive.

For tennis racket string thickness, it is measured in terms of gauge. The measurements can get a bit confusing due to a lack of standardization, but whatever gauge you’re considering, keep in mind the following:

Thicker diameter string: more durable, but less spin and feel.

Thinner diameter string: less durable, but more spin and feel.

Finally, here are the pros and cons of using different tennis racket string materials:

Material Beginner-friendly? Power Control Durability Price
Natural gut No Higher Higher Low Higher
Synthetic gut Yes Medium Medium Medium Lower
Multifilament Yes Higher Medium Medium Medium
Polyester No Medium Higher Higher Medium
Kevlar No Lower Medium Highest Medium

The best way to find what string setup you prefer is to take out a few racket with different strings/string tensions, play for some time with each of them, and settle on one you like. You can often get “demo rackets” for a very cheap rental rate from pro shops.

General note: Do not obsess about your string tension, gauge, and material. Every so often try going up or down a few pounds, or try out a different string altogether.

[It would be remiss not to mention that there is a practice called “hybrid stringing” which can produce more tailored results. It is beyond the scope of this simple reference. The practice is better suited for a higher level of player, unless you’re the type of person who likes to casually drop terms like “mains and crosses” to your tennis buddies, in which case here is a comprehensive Hybrid Stringing Guide :)]

At the end of the day, the most important thing that will decide your skill level and enjoyment of tennis is the amount of time you practice, as well as the quality of your practice time. If you’re in Vancouver, Canada, book private tennis lessons with our professionals!

That’s about everything you should need to get started. See you on the courts!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at and we will help you.

Bonus bullet points:

  • Use a string dampener to make the strings less “clangy.”
  • Strings lose 1-2 lbs of tension on flights.
  • The quality of the stringer can affect the accuracy of your string tension.
  • String tension will gradually loosen over time no matter what.