How long does soft poly last?
With the warmer weather in full effect we're starting to see more rackets in for restringing as players look for a fresh setup.
We keep a history book of all rackets we have strung in the past so we can see how long it's been and what is working.
It's crazy how time flies. One player estimated it must have been 4-6 weeks since last restring. But when I looked at the log - it had been 3 months.
And at 3 months any poly setup has long been dead... So let's get right into why this happens.
Strings can only take so much
While it might be awesome to have a string that lasts forever, all strings have a peak performance window.
They may not break, but the performance decline is significant. On a soft poly setup like this one it is recommended to restring every 3 weeks if you are playing a lot.
Obviously you don't want to go broke so here's what I am seeing in the real world after countless testing
Here are the two main factors at play specifically with poly:
1. Tension loss
The second after you string a racket the tension begins to fall and continues to fall.
There's an initial tension loss after the first few sessions that happens pretty quickly, then it starts to level out a bit.
This loss in tension is creating more power, but you adjust your strokes normally to compensate.
So yes the bed is softening during this time as the tension lowers, however there is another factor going on that you might not think of.
2. Loss of elasticity
When the string is fresh it is stretchy, causing it to snap back into position quickly and pockets the ball deeply.
As you hit thousands of balls that stretchiness starts to fade. Just like we don't snap back from hangovers like we used to when we are younger and have taken on a hardened appearance - so is the string.
This loss of elasticity is what really starts killing the setup - and possibly your arm.
So how long should it last in reality?
Because I am obsessed with strings I love to restring often - but even I can usually get 5 weeks out of Solinco Tour Bite Soft 17 gauge.
From other players who aren't such string snobs are getting around 3 months until they can feel something is going south.
How do you know when it's time?
The first thing you'll notice visually is the strings will start to move around on you.
They won't be snapping back into their original position. I usually start to see this around the 3 week mark but sometimes earlier.
You'll notice you aren't getting as much spin because the elasticity isn't there to do its thing.
Remember like life strings are a compromise. Do you want comfort or performance? You want longevity too?
Just do yourself a favor and don't overdo it on an old set that's going dead. Don't beat a dead horse. Just get it restrung and be happy!