Shape…what do you like?
We all like great shapes especially when it comes to ourselves! But what about the shape of your tennis racquet string?
With the increased availability of “shaped” polyester based string you need to know what, if any, advantages or disadvantages to expect. String shapes range from round to octagonal, and come in several gauges, or thicknesses, and twist angles.
This is an image of a shaped and twisted polyester based string. The distance between the “shiny” is about .300 inches so that is about 3.3 twists per inch. The finished stringing should reflect about the same twist rate.
Most of the shaped strings we are talking about are easily produced polyester based that is simply extruded from a high temperature molten state to a cooled and finished string. It is easy to extrude this material in almost any shape, and sell it for almost any price! Make no mistake, some polyester based strings are very complex so the price you pay should be based on the complexity, and therefore, performance both proven and claimed.
What does the shape you select actual do? In the simplest terms the shape is intended to “bite” into the ball therefore creating more spin. As far as I know there is no comprehensive study that concludes that, under many circumstances, will a shape produce more spin. The movement of the polyester based string, even round, can influence spin. It seems, intuitively, that the very sharp edges would, in fact, bite into the ball. But, the sharp edges are soon gone due to the stretching during stringing and the “buffing” of the ball hitting.
Having said all of that, if you believe the string is creating more spin for you then absolutely use it.
Installing shaped string, especially twisted shapes, requires a different process to prevent the string from simply twisting itself into a non-performing condition. To install a radically shaped string it is my practice to make sure the string does not twist. This process takes longer but produces a much better, and, consistent result.
If you are using a shaped string take a look at some of the cross strings (the short ones) and see if they are tightly twisted or, hopefully, show a consistent straight condition.
So, when getting into shape do it the right way!