Category Archives: Patterns

Head Visit

The World Headquarters of Racquet Quest was pleased to have Erika and Federic from Head visit recently. Erika is with Head in Phoenix and Frederic is from the Headquarters in Kennelbach, Austria.

Team Head player, Jack Anthrop was on hand to provide a players perspective.

Jack Anthrop


The purpose of the visit was to discuss a “grassroots” program that can effectively address, and contribute to the growth of tennis worldwide.

I was commenting on racquets and string selections, of course, when it dawned on me that Head has done an extraordinary job in designing racquets that have vast player appeal! A prime example is the Adaptive Series, introduced about a year ago, consisting of a “Speed” and  “Instinct” model.

Head Adaptive Length Extenders

This series can go from a lightweight standard length racquet to a more substantial, longer racquet in a few minutes! Plus this series can be either a 16 x 19 or a 16x 16 string pattern!

This concept is valid, and one that allows players to maximise the performance of the racquet. And the implementation is easy. Some changes can be made at courtside!

So, while I believe more can be done to get players into the correct racquet, the Head Adaptive Series is very close to being perfect!

What is Important?

I spend hours each day dealing with tennis racquets, strings, machines and questions of all sorts!

By doing this I am learning what is important to tennis players but it should not require a one-on-one discussion to learn this, in my opinion.

So, what is important to you?  Here is what I am discovering.

Comfort.  It goes without saying that you don’t want to play tennis if you are hurting!  Players are requesting racquets that are more arm friendly.  But wait, the racquet really holds the string which has a huge impact on comfort.  So should we begin with string?  I think so!

String.  Every string I have has undergone a comprehensive testing procedure to determine elongation which in turn is converted to Power Potential.  The higher the elongation the higher the power potential and the less stiff the string bed will feel when the ball is hit hard, all other settings being equal.  If you have a stiff racquet it is important to select a string and tension that will mitigate the racquet stiffness to some extent.  Every racquet we do has the “effective stiffness” calculated which is the combined stiffness of the racquet and string bed. Once we have the preferred effective stiffness for a customer we can achieve that even if a new racquet is added to the mix.

Durability.  We try to associate the cost of racquet stringing to “cost per hour” of play time.  What is your threshold?  $1.00 per hour or $10.00 per hour?  When considering durability do not confuse “performance” with “durability”!  There are several strings that may not fail for several months however the performance is gone in a few hours.  This is typical of polyester based strings.  So, even if the string is still intact the performance is way gone!

Cost.  The cost of tennis racquets is increasing, sometimes justified, sometimes not but are rising none the less.  If cost is your “driver” some navigation around the market is important, however, we do not suggest you buy the “cheapest” thing you can find without a thorough understanding of what you are getting.  We can assist you in evaluating racquets from any source.

Hybrid Stringing…What is it and Does it Matter?

When the discussion is about stiff polyester string, it will always include the word “hybrid”!  Typically this word is used to convince players that by putting a “soft” multi-filament string in the cross position the string bed will be easier on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

Intuitively this makes sense, but in reality, the reverse could be true!

I began analyzing hybrid string beds years ago and did many just to test the theory. At the time it did not seem so important because, frankly, the use of polyester based string did not approach the usage of current times.

I have nothing against the polyester string(s)! I do have an issue with bad applications of polyester string(s).

I am bringing this up again because recently an “interviewee” stated that that replacing the polyester cross string with a multi-filament would cure the ills of a very stiff string bed.

The bottom line:

A high elongation string of any material can increase the string bed stiffness of a hybrid string bed!

How can this be?

Stiff (polyester) strings are “stiff” and the tension applied to them during stringing is low. However, high elongation (multi-filament) strings will be influenced more by tension and become “stiffer”.  The cross stings are typically shorter, and there are more of them, so the combined affect is stiffness.

The initial reaction to this conundrum is to automatically reduce tension on the cross string by a certain amount. Again this raises another issue, and that is racquet distortion.

During the installation of the main strings most stringing machines will allow the racquet to become wider, sometimes a lot wider! So, reducing the cross string tension may not return the racquet to the designed shape. What happens then is the racquet will continue to move around trying to find a “safe” place and therefore the string bed stiffness changes.

In summary, the hybrid string bed will not be statistically different than the full string bed of polyester. This is even truer if the initial string tensions of the polyester are very low, such as 35 to 40 pounds.

So if you feel the need to use polyester just go with lower, lower,  tensions.



What to Expect in 2016!

Well, I made it to see 2016 arrive! I am not sure why I stayed up but it does commit me to pay attention to what may happen in the coming year.

I think the big story for 2016 is going to be more string related than racquet related. Why? Because manufacturers can “turn around” a string model much quicker than a racquet model, and, there are significant areas for improvement in selecting the correct string material for each player physicality and style.

String characteristics, materials, tensions, and applications are confusing to many and rightly so. This year I want to continue the “educational” effort and invite anyone with something to contribute to speak up.

My motto for 2016 is “Speak Up…Then String Up”

What is “String Frequency Recommended”

For more years than I can remember the rule of thumb for when to re-string your racquet was never really adhered to for many reasons.

Years ago I constructed a simple formula to calculate the “String Frequency Recommended”.  This is now available to anyone by clicking on the “calculator” button on the “home” page of this site.

I have incorporated as much as I know about string and times played per year into the four (4) player categories.  So, you will not see these as separate fields.

String Density is approximately how much of the head area is filled with string.  I calculate this for every racquet but the values I have noted will be fine for your SFR input.

String Spacing M is the distance between main strings.  The more distance between strings the higher the number.  So, if the strings are .500 apart that would be input as “5”.  If the strings are .400 apart that would be input as “4”, and so on.

String Spacing X is the same as the above.

Using this calculator allows you can to play around with the variables to see which racquet properties will give you the longest string “viability”.  Strings loose tension well before they break and this calculator reflects that.  This calculator will maintain the best playability if adhered to.

What a Year!


This has been an incredible year filled with challenges, great rewards, learning, and teaching!

One of the greatest challenges is making sure that tennis players of all ages can continue to play without injury. This is especially true of younger players that subject themselves to many hours of training and tournaments.

Along with all that hitting comes the risk of arm and shoulder injuries so this year has been filled with research, design, formatting, and experimenting with various string material combinations.

I would like to thank the folks at Acelon Racquet Sports for their tremendous support of our research, and, of course, continuing trial and error! There are many suppliers of tennis string that have contributed but Acelon has stepped up with an extraordinary array of string materials, and configurations. Thank you Dan!

Ashaway Line & Twine Manufacturing has also played a major role in our string research and our commitment to minimize injuries. The Ashaway Monogut ZX has proven to be an outstanding product in fulfilling our commitment. Thank you Steve!

Our commitment to “injury free” tennis will continue as long as I do this and I appreciate the contribution of many suppliers and players. Without the honest and clear feedback of the players it would be impossible to make as much progress as we did this year.

Thank you Babolat, Dunlop, ErecaHead, Wilson, YonexKimony, and many others for your support!

2015 is going to be a very good year! We will be challenged, rewarded, taught and will teach! I am looking forward to it!

Happy New Year!

Premature String Failure Getting You Down?

Of all my clients a small percentage, maybe up to ten (10) percent, suffer from premature string failure.

If you are one of these ten (10) percent this post may shed some light on the reason(s) or at least offer some sympathy!

First, what is premature string failure?

In the case of the ten (10) percent it is “the string broke”.  Period.

Ashaway Red Rough Cross Close Up


Players are experiencing failure in less than ten (10) hours and some in less than two (2) hours.  Unless you are a touring professional this may be too often!  I understand that so we try to accommodate your desired “cost per hour” threshold.

So, premature failure is less than ten (10) hours of playing time before breaking.

Here are some contributors to this failure…

String Gauge:   the thinner (higher number) the more quickly it will break, typically.

String Tension:  lower tensions, or SBS, String Bed Stiffness, the more the strings will move which creates friction which causes notching, which, well you know.

String Movement: See above.  There is some belief that string moving will create more top spin.

String Pattern:  the fewer number of strings the more open the pattern will be and allow more movement.

Racquet Stiffness:  a very stiff racquet (RDC 70+) will put more of the impact load on the string, significantly, leading to decreased string life.

Spin: to generate spin you must swing from low to high with plenty of force (harder) causing the strings to move more.

Training:  if you are hitting for two (2) hours in training it may be like playing several tournaments.

Mis-Hits: hitting the ball close to the racquet frame creates increased stress on the string and results in “shearing” the string.



As you know there are many more reasons a string may break prematurely and some of it has to do with the away the strings are installed in your racquet but that is another post.

What should you do about premature string breakage?

If your situation is chronic you should consider a more dense string pattern.  A pattern of 18 x 20 is a good pattern for increased durability.  The dense pattern does not allow the strings to move so freely.

Of course if you are currently using a very open pattern, typically fewer cross strings, in hopes of maximum top spin then you are in for frequent stringing!  I hope you enjoy the “spin”!

You may consider a hybrid format with a monofilament main string and a different cross string.  Monofilaments are typically polyester based and can be a contributor to arm pain.  Monogut ZX by Ashaway is a monofilament made using PEEK (no polyester) and makes a really good hybrid format, and does not put extra stress on the arm.

Consider using a larger diameter (lower number) string.  It makes sense that the thicker the string the longer it will take to “saw” through it.  A sacrifice in “playability may occur!

Once you determine how much per hour you are willing to spend on string we can design a string setup for you that can contribute to your tennis enjoyment and still leave some money for other things!

Respond to this post with your “cost per hour” threshold and I will respond with a possible solution.  How’s that?

Yonex 18×19 Pattern?

This may an odd time to bring this up but did you know most Yonex tennis racquets can be strung with a 18×19 string pattern?  Most racquet manufacturers offer an “open” pattern now with Head even offering an “Adaptive String Pattern”, allowing for more than one pattern per racquet,at separate times, of course.

These images are an “old” Yonex racquet but most Yonex racquets can be strung this way.  There is, as far as I am concerned, no compelling reason to use this pattern but I think it is fun to evaluate options.

DSC_0247 DSC_0248

Why would you want to string any Yonex in a 18×19 pattern instead of their standard and popular 16×19?  I can’t speak for everyone but a reason may be to “firm” up the string bed at lower tensions which can allow more “compliance” and therefore more ball rotation, or “spin”, especially on exaggerated slice shots.

There is not a hard “formula” for string life but typically the more strings filling the head area the longer they last.

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