Gear Q&A: Pattern Recognition

by: Jon Levey | May 14, 2019

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Jon Levey answers your equipment questions in Gear Q&A. Click here to email your question, or send him a tweet at @72unforced.

I am considering buying two racquets. Both are 98s, have similar weights and 16x19 string patterns, but one has six strings running through the throat versus eight for the other. Based on several opinions/reviews, it seems the racquet with eight strings running through the throat is the more powerful. Which has me confused. Based on logic, shouldn’t that frame offer more control, while the one with six strings should in theory be more powerful?Alexander W.


String spacing is a frequently overlooked aspect of racquet performance. To your point, when there is greater spacing—typically in the mains—the result is greater power and spin. Tighter string patterns foster less movement and will generally result in a more restrained response which often translates into better control. However, these attributes do not have to be a function of the number of strings that run through the throat. Racquet manufacturers don’t make a conscious decision of putting six strings through the throat to increase power, or eight to enhance control. 

For an expert’s take I consulted Ron Rocchi, Wilson’s Advanced Innovation Manager. Here’s his brief explanation:

“The amount of string loops through the yoke is not a factor we design to. That characteristic comes from the string spacing in conjunction with the size and shape of the frame. In other words, we design the string locations—how wide or narrow—for performance and the actual number that goes through the throat comes out in the wash. If you have wider spaced strings to produce more power and spin, then it is more likely to have six through the throat.”

According to Rocchi, the mains are the racquet’s engine—the wider, the more power; the crosses are more involved in launch angles and spin rate. So, a racquet with six strings running through the throat will generally have more power and spin potential than a similarly spec’d frame that has eight. However, a wide, lollipop-shaped head frame with eight strings through the throat could conceivably be more powerful and spin-friendly than a more oval shaped face with only six strings through the middle. 

Don’t forgot that string spacing is only one factor in the power equation. The weight, beam width, stiffness and balance all play parts in a racquet’s potential to produce pace. For instance, if the frame you’re considering with eight strings through the throat has a greater percentage of its weight positioned closer to the head—resulting in a higher swingweight—it’s probably going to have more punch. But don’t take my word, or those of other reviewers. The only way to know for sure is to test out both racquets and decide for yourself which one hits the bigger ball.  

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