How to Choose a Tennis String Pattern

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As the strings are the only part of the racket to make contact with the ball, they’re arguably the most important feature of any player’s racket.

Aside from the type of string you’re using, the pattern can also have a great impact on your shots and either complement your style of play or hinder it.

With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at the different string patterns found in tennis, and how to choose a string pattern that you’ll be happy with.

Let’s get to it.

What is a String Pattern?

A string pattern is the way that the main and cross strings are laid out within the racket. The string pattern is often displayed as two numbers that depict the number of main strings (vertical strings) and cross strings (horizontal strings).  

Let’s take an example.

A 16 X 19 string pattern. This means that there are 16 main strings and 19 cross strings. The first number always corresponds to the number of mains in a racket.

So with that, let’s take a look at some of the types of string patterns and the effect that they have on your swing.

Types of Patterns

Before we get into the specific numbers, it’s worth mentioning that string patterns can fall into one of three categories:

  • Open String Pattern
  • Dense/ Closed String Pattern
  • Inbetween Pattern

That’s all well and good, but let’s quickly look at the characteristics of these two types of patterns.

Open String Pattern: This is named after the fact that the gaps between each string are larger, therefore looking more open. An open string pattern is good for generating more power and spin, as the strings can grip the ball better than with close string patterns. It’s worth noting though that strings will often wear out sooner with this type of pattern, so it might be worth getting yourself a stringing machine.

Dense/ Closed String Pattern: As you can probably guess, this is named because the space between the strings is much smaller as the racket has more main strings. This is ideal for players who like to hit a flatter shot with less spin. In general, dense patter rackets give more touch, precision, and feedback on the ball. That said, you’re still able to generate a good amount of spin with this pattern, you’ll just need good technique.

Inbetween Pattern: These aren’t as common as the two other patterns but can be useful if you’d like a middle ground between the two.

Ok, let’s look at some of the common patterns you’ll come across.

16 X 19 String Pattern

Let’s start with the most popular string pattern, the 16 X 19. As we explained earlier, this has 16 main strings and 19 cross strings. In general, this is a relatively open pattern, especially compared to some other patterns out there.

This results in a versatile pattern that offers a solid amount of spin and power with a good amount of feel on impact. The only downside to this pattern is that the strings can wear out pretty quickly.  

Example rackets:

  • Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph
  • Yonex VCore Pro 97 330G

18 X 20 String Pattern

The 18 X 20 is a bit denser than the 16 X 19 we just discussed. This string patter is preferred by players who like to hit the ball flatter with less spin. You also get a little less power with this pattern, allowing for a bit more control and precision on your shots.

Example rackets:

  • Babolat Pure Strike
  • Wilson Blade V7 98

16 X 18 String Pattern

This is very similar to the more popular 16 x 19 pattern, however, due to there being one fewer cross string, the racket is a bit more open. This allows the ball to stay connected to the string for slightly longer and the strings to be flexible, giving your shots a bit more power.

  • Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph
  • Yonex VCore Pro 97 330G

16 X 20 String Pattern

This is a nice cross between the 16 X 19 and the 18 X 20. The result is a racket with somewhat open main strings and dense cross strings. This strikes a balance between spin and power and is a decent, albeit niche choice of strings for the all-around player.

Example rackets;

  • Babolat Pure Aero VS

Final Thoughts

There we have it, hopefully, you’ve got a better understanding of what a string pattern is, and how to choose a tennis string pattern to suit your playstyle.

If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to get in touch via the comment section below.

P.s. We’ve got a full in-depth guide on string tension, as well as an article on tennis string gauges that you may like to check out.

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