Article updated 18 feb 2016 – Chester
What is a very low tension for a polyester?
Take a 100 sq inch 16/19 racquet as example. For polyester strings on this racquet –
– Low Tension would be around 48 pounds.
– Medium Tension would be around 52 pounds.
– High Tension would be around 56 pounds.
– Very low Tension would be 45 pounds or less. ( This is what we will be focusing on in this topic )
Do keep in mind, that soft strings types cannot be strung at very low Tensions unlike Polyesters. Polyesters can, because they have high Dynamic Tension( or in layman terms, they are naturally stiffer ).
As explain in the guide, Polyesters have many wonderful properties however they do also have quite a number of weaknesses. However at very low tensions, most of the weaknesses vanishes, some even becoming strength and herein lies the Magic!
Weaknesses of Polyesters and how very low tension fixes them –
– Low Playability ( Losses performance quickly / string dies )
However at very low tension, playability improves noticeably . And when the string does becomes dead, it is somehow still very playable. Partly due to trampoline effect.
– Low Tension Stability
However at very low tension, tension falls slower, this is because the strings are softer/more elastic and the dispersion of impact damage is better. However 1 pound lost in a low tension poly is more noticeable than a 1 pound lost in a high tensioned polyester.
– Low comfort
However at very low tensions, Comfort level is very significantly better! Tennis elbow due to stiff string-bed is almost an impossibility with this set-up! Absorbs shock impact from ball really well even when string goes dead!
– Low power
At very low tensions, the power level is very significantly higher. Even return shots that are simply blocked back can very easily clear the net. Higher power can also help reduce injury as you need to exert yourself less to generate power.
– Low/Smaller Pocketing/Sweet spot
At very low tensions, Polyesters are much more elastic, stretches more , offers better pocketing and sweet spot.
YES Sweet Spot opens up nicely at lower tension, much bigger, this is by far my favourite plus!
Other improvements –
Polyesters has very good durability but at very low tensions, its durability is even more outstanding. Notchings are greatly reduced.
Feedback/Response of polyesters are lower at high tension and higher at lower tension. Not completely true, depends on the type of polyesters, some poly has better feel at low tensions, some has better feel at high tensions. Lower tension could also cause the string-bed to produce more ‘ noise’ vibrations but can be solved with a dampener.
Durability and Comfort – These 2 qualities do not usually co-exists, soft strings are naturally not durable and stiff strings are durable but are usually lacking in comfort.
However with a full-bed of very low tension polyester, we get the superb and rare combination of high durability and high comfort!
String’s ability for Touch shots/volleys are vastly improved – The combination of increased comfort, response/feed-back, pocketing and power.
The only Negative effect of Very low tension –
The only weakness at such low tensions is high Trampoline effect. Ball launch angles are unpredictably higher – Level of control decreases – spraying is more frequent – ball launches and travels at less predictable trajectories. ( This Trampoline effect is much more significant for heavy hitters, topspin and slices. This Trampoline effect is less significant for players who take short swings, flatter strokes and players who relies on touch and feel for control. )
Trampoline effect issn’t all bad, its gives comfort, power even when strings are dead, personally I’d always take the trade, for the pros much outweighs the cons.
If you need more control, higher string tension issn’t nearly the best solution, often times earlier preparation , cleaner shots of the sweet spot, smarter choices of shot and especially using spin will offer you way more control.
Some things one should note :
Recommended range for Low Tension Polyesters about 35-45 pounds.
Going too low in tension ( less then 35 pounds) is a bad idea, think of the Polyester like a spring in a pen, the spring has to be stretched first and placed into the pen in order for it to “click”. I do not think lower then 35 pounds is a good idea, also when the string losses tension its going to be even lower tension.
If you have never tried low tension polyesters before, do not expect to get used to it immediately, it takes some getting used to as the sensation of it is completely different from anything you have ever felt. The polyester will feel quite different from what it once felt like.
The model and type of polyester is something one should note, some polyesters just gets whole lot better at lower tension and others… not so much. Trampoline effect level also varies with different polyesters.
For strong powerful players who have no idea how to create control for their shots, this very low tension string might be a bad idea. I can rely on head speed which creates spin which gives me massive amounts of control. Spin is my source of control. Using a less modern stroke, I would guide the racquet more and throw it less if I require more control. Some shots requires more control, some less it depends on the situation.
With regards to the “Feel” of Very Low Tensioned polyesters, not everyone will like it.