In the modern game of tennis, spin is a crucial element. The pros hit with enormous amounts of spin (Nadal’s forehand averages around 3200 RPM), and if you want to improve your game, you need to hit with a lot of spin.
The biggest impact on spin is using good technique, however, the strings you use can also help you increase the amount of spin you put on the ball. In this guide, we’ll start off by listing some of the best tennis strings for spin. Then we’ll look at why tennis strings affect spin, whether tension affects spin, the drawbacks of spin-friendly strings, and finally we’ll look at some other things you can do to increase the amount of spin you put on the ball.
Best Tennis Strings for Spin
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Do Strings Really Affect Spin?
Whilst the biggest impact on the amount of spin generated is technique, research from Tennis Warehouse University has shown that strings do affect spin to some extent, and polyester strings are the best for generating spin.
One possible reason for this is that polyester strings are stiffer than other materials which allows players to swing faster without the ball going out, and that extra swing speed is what generates the spin. So it isn’t necessarily that the strings themselves are better at generating spin, but they allow players to hit the ball in such a way that more spin can potentially be generated.
Another possible reason is that polyester strings move when the ball makes contact, and quickly snap back into place imparting spin on the ball. If this is true, then it could be that the strings themselves do in fact help to generate spin.
It isn’t quite clear exactly why polyester strings allow for more spin potential, but research suggests that they do. This is backed up by anecdotal evidence too, as you will find that most players looking for more spin, tend to favor polyester strings.
Does String Tension Affect Spin?
The same study from Tennis Warehouse University also found that string tension does affect spin and lower tensions offer higher potential for spin.
If the theory that the strings moving and snapping back into place upon contact is correct, the lower string tension could create more spin because the strings are moving more before snapping back.
Again, it isn’t completely clear why this is the case, but it does seem that lower tensions are better for generating spin. However, one thing to note is that lower tension strings offer less control than higher tensions.
Drawbacks of Spin Friendly Strings
Polyester strings are great for spin but they do have their drawbacks and they’re not for everyone. Below are the most common disadvantages of polyester strings.
- Stiff: Polyester strings are stiffer than alternatives so they can sometimes feel quite uncomfortable. This is especially when you don’t have good technique.
- Can cause or aggravate arm pain: Again this is usually if you have poor technique, but the stiffness of polyester strings can cause arm pain so I wouldn’t recommend them if you suffer from tennis elbow or other arm pain.
- Not as much feel: Polyester strings don’t have as much feel as alternatives. A common term you might have heard of is “ball pocketing”. This is the percieved dwell time of the ball on the strings. Ball pocketing is fairly low with polyester strings so you don’t feel connected to the ball like you do with other materials.
Tips for Generating Spin
Whilst polyester strings will certainly help you generate more spin, there are some other things you can also do to generate more spin.
- Good technique: The most important factor for generating spin is good technique. Personal coaching is the best way to improve your technique, but you can also get good results from YouTube videos. A few of my favorite channels are Top Tennis Training and Feel Tennis.
- TopSpin Pro: Linking in with good technique is the TopSpin Pro (link to Amazon). This is a device that promotes topspin by preventing you from hitting too horizontally and promoting hitting more vertically to generate spin. The ball on the device rotates so you can see how much spin you are generating.
- Looser string tension: As I mentioned earlier, stringing your racket at a looser tension can help generate more spin at the expense of control.
- Use a semi-western/western grip: If you’re using a continental or eastern grip, you might consider moving towards a semi-western or western grip to generate more topspin. You can read more about the different grips at The Tennis Tribe.
If you’re looking to maximise the amount of spin you can generate, look for polyester string. The strings at the beginning of this article are particularly good for spin, but be warned, polyester string don’t usually have as much control or feel as other materials, and can be harder on your arm. Spin-friendly strings aren’t going to make you hit Nadal levels of spin on their own. The primary factor that influences spin is technique, so make sure not to neglect this element. Using a semi-western/western grip and looser string tension can also help to generate spin.