Thinner gauge string gets more spin, right?
They also say that thicker gauge strings like 16g have more spin potential.
How can both of these be true?
I was instantly attracted to strings when I started playing tennis. The physics, the data, the intrigue, the endless selection, and the unknown. So much is happening for those few milliseconds the ball is making contact with the strings. Much more than I ever thought.
The string heads were speaking a different language. I wanted to be one.
When I made the switch from 16g to 17g, I was hooked. Stiff and dead poly became lively. I could feel more spin from that first hit. When I went from 17 to 18, I was in heaven.
I had unlocked a new level – found a new edge – and I knew that this small advantage over my opponent could add up to big things in a match.
If you’ve watched any of the string reviews you know I love playing with thinner gauge string. No it’s not for everyone, and not everyone can or wants to restring to the frequency they require – but here’s what I found.
Its thin diameter brings out the comfort qualities in poly as it stretches and deforms easier than heavier gauge strings – making stiff poly strings feel as if they are soft, and dead ones come alive.
They bite into the ball easier. Since they are thinner, each string sinks in deeper into that felt covered rubber ball. You can really feel how they dig their teeth into it, a sensation of added grip.
They create an open pattern. Going from 1.30mm to 1.20 may not seem like much on the surface, but remember your string pattern. Stop looking at the strings and look at the holes between them. By reducing the string diameter you are not doing it once, but 4 times as each hole has 4 sides of strings. You are widening the gap between strings, which means the ball can sink deeper into the bed - and get more action and spin.
They are more powerful. Since they are more flexible they can stretch easier, and like a trampoline launch the ball with more power. A little free power at my level is always welcome.
Speaking of launch, that extra bite usually results in a higher launch angle – which can be a good thing. If you’re a big spin player like me, you can use that high launch angle to your advantage as what goes up must come down. That more vertical launch translates into a more vertical dive back into the court. Balls that appear to your opponent to be going long suddenly dive last second into the court. Free points.
But the biggest thing I’ve always loved about thin gauge strings is they can get the most spin. Or, so I thought.
It turns out that’s not exactly true. I was going around for years not seeing the full picture.
Here’s the thing - thicker gauge strings like 16g can get more spin than thinner gauge strings. They have more spin potential. For some.
Thicker strings like 16g are heavier and have more mass. They contain more material. They are harder to stretch, and more resistant to deform. Exactly the opposite of thinner strings. There is also a theory that thicker strings have increased surface area contact with the ball, possibly adding something, but it's just a theory.
They contain more potential energy than thinner springs. But with a big if.
If you can swing big enough to stretch, deform, and overcome that thicker string – it’s loaded with more energy and when the string snaps back, it snaps back with more force. The pros can do this. Which is probably one of the reasons why you mostly see the pros and high level players on 16g – it’s not a spin limiter for them like it is for us.
But can you do it? Do you have the swing speed to achieve this? Maybe some do. For most of us, thinner gauge strings do get a little more spin.
Not to be pedantic, but the better way to say it is thin gauge strings give easier access to spin. Because it just makes it easier to get it. So it turns out it’s more about using the correct wording when talking about spin.
No matter how many tests or data there is, at the end of the day one player’s experience will be completely different from another's.
To truly understand strings you must embrace this reality – that on the other side of all the tests and data, is a human swinging a racket. If it works for you, you can believe whatever you want to believe.
For me, it’s the small differences that add up to big things.