Luxilon Tennis Strings
Are They Good For You and YOUR Game?
Luxilon Tennis Strings -- To Poly? - Or Not To Poly?
An Article by Dan Mastous USRSA MRT
If you've been watching tennis on TV recently, you've been hearing the commentators talk about a new miracle string that is allowing the players to hit harder and with more spin then they ever have. This is partially true, but misleading.
The strings they are mostly talking about are called Luxilon tennis strings, and are what is known in stringing circles as a "poly" or "co-poly".
It's essentially a plastic polymer that has been shaped into string form. Commentators like Jim Courier and John McEnroe are unquestionably plugged into the pro player's preferences, and the pros do love Luxilon tennis strings. The last time I looked at a string list, the majority of the pros have either gut, or a gut/poly blend in their racquets, commonly called a hybrid.
As a result of the comments by McEnroe and Courier and others, stringers across the country are being asked by their customers if they have the new Wonder String, "Lux-er...something". It's supposed to cure all ills, bad forehands, bad backhands and serves.
It's supposed to make you play like a pro. But don't be fooled. The pros don't love their Lux because it’s such a powerful string. In fact they love their Luxilon tennis strings for the opposite reason. It is a dead feeling string. By way of explanation allow me to give a small history lesson...
Back in the days of wood racquets, Bjorn Borg was legendary for having his racquets strung incredibly tight. Over 80 lbs. Modern racquets aren't designed to handle that kind of tension, and wood racquets less so. Consequently, Borg's racquets frequently broke while being strung, or in the bag before a match, or just about anywhere.
If the string didn't break, the racquet did. Borg had his racquets strung this way because he wanted control. In tennis, higher tension gives less length in a shot. As a result, you get more control. Now Borg could generate power from his swing, but he wanted to control that power, and he wanted to do that with spin.
But to get more spin he had to swing harder, and if he swung harder he got more power. The answer was to tighten the stringbed to the point where it was relatively lifeless. Then he could swing as hard as he wanted to get spin and still hit the ball fairly hard.
What was needed was a string that could give you a dead feel so you could swing hard and not have the ball end up in the next county. The first answer to that was Kevlar, at least it was the first commonly known string to provide a dead feeling string bed.
Kevlar tennis string is almost like playing with very thin rope. It has almost no life whatsoever, no elasticity. Elasticity in string is what gives it power. So here we have a string that you could string at reasonable tensions which the racquet can survive, and still have a dead string bed to try and generate spin without getting too much power.
Polymer string came on the market at about the same time as Kevlar string, but there were no big time pros endorsing polys at that time.
Andre Agassi was known to use Kevlar and that was good enough for most. Polymer went away for awhile, but it has returned to favor on the pro tour, and as more people learn about the pros using it, they want to try it for themselves.
The ultimate question is: If Luxilon tennis strings are good enough for the pros, is it good enough for the club player?
My answer would be NO .
If you don't have good stroke mechanics, poly will gladly expose them for you. If you have a sore elbow -- or shoulder -- it's a sure bet you'll be taking a break from tennis after playing with poly.
It's a stiff unforgiving string. As I said above, it has no elasticity, so no power whatsoever. It doesn't hold its tension well at all. In fact in string matrixes where string is charted for various characteristics, nearly all the polys show up in the bottom of the pack when it comes to tension maintenance.
About the only thing it has going in its favor is that it is durable. It will last a long time even with the smallest of gauges. Thinner does tend to be better when it comes to spin and feel.
What poly does allow you to do is to swing harder so that you can impart more spin the ball and not have it put a hole in the back fence, or wall. The truth is with poly you can hit harder, but only if you are capable of hitting harder properly.
It certainly won't help you hit harder, fix your strokes, or make you hit like Roger Federer (Luxilon Alu Power Rough/Natural Gut), or Andy Roddick (Babblelot Hurricane Tour/Natural Gut).
So for the pros what poly gives them is just right. It has a dead feel so they can swing hard to create more spin with less length. Its poor tension maintenance isn't a problem as they get multiple racquets restrung daily, whether they play with them or not. The spin they put on the ball would wear through a normal synthetic very quickly so they do benefit from the durability of polys. It's a fantastic string -- for the pros.
It's just not a very good string for the club player or young, developing juniors.
- Dan Mastous
Dan is a highly qualified professional racquet stringer. He operates a professional racquet stringing service. You can read all about his operation here.
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