The Pro Shop

Question of the Day: Recommended Tension & Frame Death

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 /by

String Check

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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Justin, I play with the Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 90 and use Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro. I currently have the tension at 48 lbs. The racquet says the recommended tension is between 50 and 60 lbs. Will going below the recommended tension damage my racquet?—Gerald

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First and foremost, Gerald, you’re right to string Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro around 48 lbs. While Fluoro is not as stiff as the original Alu Power—resulting in a softer, more comfortable feel—its manufacture is still based on that of Alu Power. In short, it’s still a monofilament. And as I’ve emphasized in the past, monofilaments typically perform best when strung, poundage-wise, in the high 40s to low 50s. Lower tensions allow strings like Fluoro to give more on impact, creating more pop and depth, and lending a smoother feel.

But to answer your question: Stringing your racquet below the manufacture’s recommended tension range will not do undue damage to the frame. Actually, it’s the opposite—stringing above the tension range—that can accelerate a racquet’s decline.

Why? One major reason is that, while a racquet is restrung, its dimensions are constantly changing: Each time a string is tensioned, the frame bends in and out of shape, stressing and slightly weakening its structural integrity. This damage accumulates over years of restringing, eventually leaving the stick softer and less powerful.

The process of “frame death” is normal and unavoidable; one certainly shouldn’t delay needful restringing in order to extend frame life. Nevertheless, players should be aware that the extent of such damage is contingent on the level of tensioning. Indeed, the higher—and further above the recommended tension range—you string, the more rapidly your stick’s lifeblood will wane.

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