Question of the Day: Low Tensions and Power

by: Justin diFeliciantonio July 31, 2012

Tags: The Pro Shop

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TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.

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"I know that a racquet strung at 60 lbs. will probably have less power than an identical racquet that is strung at 50 lbs. But what if we reduce the tension to 40 lbs, or 30 lbs., or 20 lbs.? Is there a point where power decreases while still allowing for the advantages of lower tensions—that is, more ball pocketing, dwell time, and comfort?Arthur

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This is certainly an interesting question, Arthur. To find you a credible answer, I forwarded it to Ron Rocci, head of Wilson’s professional stringing operations. In sum, Rocci noted that, while it may be intuitive to think that power dwindles at extremely low tensions, the fact is that—at all reasonable tensions, 20 lbs. included—ball velocity increases as tensions decrease.

“As tension decreases, the power will increase,” Rocci says. “In addition, the launch angle, or directional control angle, will increase as well. This means that the ball will start coming off with more power and have less accuracy off the stringbed—i.e., a greater launch angle. As for the point of diminishing return, I have not seen any data to support the idea that lower tensions actually decrease power. I have strung racquets at almost every tension—the lowest being 38 pounds at a tournament, and 20 lbs. generally—and at very low tensions the ball will still find more ‘trampoline’ effect with increased power and launch angle.”

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