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The Definitive Guide to Playing with Low Tension Polys

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This blog is meant as a follow-up for our immensely popular posting on March 17 where we discussed the optimal method for stringing poly-based strings.  That particular entry has generated much discussion and many of our readers have been open to trying the suggested method and have reported success.  (Congratulations and thank you for reporting back!)  Unfortunately we have also had reports of some who have attempted the method without the desired results. This entry attempts to address some issues that may arise when stringing full co-poly setups at lower tensions.

One key element to keep in mind is that there is going to be an adjustment period for those using this method.  Keeping a positive and open mind is absolutely essential.  It is also vital for you to give change a chance.  Unfortunately this sometimes takes more time than our “instant gratification” society prefers.

Remember, the racquet is going to feel different.  The sensations will be new and some adjustments may have to be made.  Going from co-polys at high tensions to low tensions offers significant differences and it is not reasonable to assume that within 10 minutes you are going to adjust perfectly.  We have known players who adjust in as little as 10 minutes, but for some (usually older, more established players) the adjustment can take several hitting sessions.  The sensations are remarkably different. Specifically the level of comfort, ease of power, access to spin on command and controlled depth of shot.

Many players who have been playing with polys at high tensions are routinely hitting the ball so that it clears the net at astonishing heights.  It is not uncommon to see baseline rallies clearing the net by 6 -10 feet  with heavy spin in order to drop it in and keep it deep.  The energy this type of tennis demands over the course of a match is quite high.

Stringing full polys at lower tensions allows the player to hit the ball so that it clears the net lower.  The depth is maintained, but the effect of the shot is amplified.  It gets to the opponent much quicker, reducing his/her reaction time. It also takes less energy to achieve more effective shots – – another huge advantage.

When playing full polys at low tensions your chief objective in hitting groundstrokes is focusing on the height at which the ball clears the net.  If you are clearing the net at a height of no more than 2′ – 3′ you are exactly where you want to be.  This is the ideal clearance height and is really where the vast majority of your attention needs to be placed when adjusting to full polys at low tensions.

We have gone so far as to create a training aid to use with locals.  It is constructed of two pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe, red yarn and velcro straps.  Each PVC pipe is 6′ 6″ so that is rises 3′ over the net.  The top 3′ of each piece have been painted red.  The velcro straps are used to lash the pipes to the net posts.  The red yarn is then used to connect the two posts creating a “RED ZONE” in which players are instructed to hit.  We have found that players will report clearing the net at no more than 3′, but once the training aid is implemented some are amazed to see that they are actually clearing the net at 1′ – 3′ over the aid.

Once players begin to get the feel of keeping the ball in the red zone, they immediately begin to experience the true benefits of low tension co-polys.  Many begin hitting worry free because with co-polys at low tensions they can swing freely and be confident that their shots are going to land in the court.

The next issue becomes fine tuning.  Players need to pay attention to where the shots are landing when the ball is clearing the net in the red zone.  (Again, no more than 2′ – 3′ in height).  If the ball is not realizing the desired depth we suggest using the following formula to adjust the tension.  To increase ball length reduce 2 pounds of tension for every yard (3 feet) of added length.  If shots are too long, the reverse formula should be applied; increase tension 2 pounds for every yard you want to bring the shot in.  These are guidelines that tend to be remarkably accurate in adjusting the tension to achieve desired ball length.

Some additional thoughts…

1.  We noted one player who had difficulty with WeissCANNON TurboTwist at lower tensions.  While we have not playtested this string at lower tensions, we do think it important to note that due to the elasticity/construction of that unique string, it is suggested by the manufacturer that it be strung at tensions comparable to synthetic guts.  We are not yet sure of how it performs at low tensions.  We’ve heard from one person and would be anxious to hear from others as well.  Bottom line is the stringing method is effective for the vast majority of copolys, but not all.

2. The stringing method we described in the earlier post is a cliff notes version of a more complicated method.  Even so, that version will take some practice in order to get it to nailed down and consistent.  Using it will definitely create better playing stringbeds with significantly increased stability, however, the polys can still lose playing properties so length of shot will have to be monitored as tension maintenance fades. As the stringer becomes more proficient with the method/practice, the performance for the player will extend.

3.  Please continue to check back with our blog.  We expect to have a major announcement about the launch of a new string brand very soon.  This brand will hold properties exceptionally well and is SPECIFICALLY designed to be strung/played and used at low tensions.  It is an amazing product and dealers will have the opportunity to be trained and certified in the intricacies of the optimal stringing method.

15 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Playing with Low Tension Polys

  1. bryan gorsira on said:

    I tried my weiss turbo twists at 40, same results as reported, did not go well. Trouble keeping the ball in the court. Will try another poly at lower tension. Would be nice to get a list of recomended strings to try for lower tensions.

  2. mikeler on said:

    “If shots are too long, the reverse formula should be applied; reduce tension 2 pounds for every yard you want to bring the shot in.”

    Awesome write up. One correction needs to be made though, the word “reduce” after the semi-colon should be changed to “increase”.

    • ggtennis on said:

      You are absolutely correct! Thanks for the catch. Use the contact us link on our web site and send us a private message with your preferred mailing address and favorite WC string. We will drop a free set in the mail to you to show our gratitude.

  3. Jason on said:

    So for a powerful elastic poly like the TurboTwist the tension may need to be increased 3 to 5 pounds compared to an average powered poly.

    • ggtennis on said:

      Yes, TurboTwist appears to be an exception. I do not know how many others are out there as I have never seen a poly with the elastic properties of the TT. (Except possibly for Topspin’s Poly Polar which is no longer being produced.)

      I believe that most polys will do well at low tensions initially, BUT, only the quality offerings will be able to maintain and hold. Those using the JET Technique with quality strings will be the most satisfied.

  4. Leung on said:

    I just read a thread on the Jay Cee stringing method (with entries written by Jay Cee himself) and it seems like there are a few more technical notes to this stringing method in addition to your “cliff-note” version:

    1) When using the same string for main and cross: string the crosses 4 lbs higher than the main to adjust for friction when tensioning the crosses.
    2) Tension 2 outermost mains 8 lbs higher. (Does this also apply to the 1st and last crosses if strung 2 pieces?)
    3) Instead of tying off on the last main, string the first cross, then tie off. (I don’t understand the logic behind this)
    4) Use two pieces.
    5) push down on every strings with your thumb after tying off the mains, going from the outside to the center. (This supposedly helps distribute the tension evenly so that all the main tensions will the same and will increase the tension maintenance of the stringbed?)

    Please let me know if these tips will indeed create more consistent tension/better tension maintenance. Also, I don’t have the Stringway flying clamps (I have fixed swivel clamps) so I’m probably going to stick to the “ciff-note” version of the Jay Cee method plus/minus the above techniques.

    • ggtennis on said:


      Thank you for participating in our blog! Through the years the JayCee Method of stringing has evolved and changed. Throughout this process I have seen many posts that take bits and pieces from various versions all intermingled. Also it is important to note that many of the writings involve the JayCee Method using flying clamps. The use of flying clamps is the reason for some of the tension adjustments. Bottom line is that the method has evolved to it’s present day form called “JET” This is an acronym for John Elliot Technique. The John Elliot Technique will soon be marketed along with the sale of his new line of strings. It will be taught to stringers and shops who wish to align themselves with a high quality line of strings and install them using John’s technique. I doubt it will be detailed step-by-step in any official way online.

      1. Currently when using the same string and cross the tensions should remain the same. When blending strings, ie polys and syn gut or gut, the poly should be 4 lbs less than the syn gut or natural gut. This can vary according to gauge of strings being used, but in general there is a 4 pound difference.

      2. The outer 2 mains are tensioned at 4 pounds above reference tension. The first and last crosses are only increased when using flying clamps.

      3. No longer being used. In fact I was never aware of this version. Mains tie off on #6 main.

      4. Yes. Two pieces is still the recommendation.

      5. The pushing down is still in the method, to some degree. This is referred to as racquet tuning.

      Yes. JET leads to increased tension maintenance and better playability for polys. Thanks again for participating in our blog.

      • Leung on said:

        Thanks for clarifying. Just a few more questions.

        1. If I use the same poly string for main and crosses, do I still pull the crosses at the same tension as the mains? In your poly-poly hybrid post, you mentioned that thinner gauge crosses will feel stiffer than their thicker counterparts so it should be pulled at the same tension as the thicker mains. So following that logic a cross that is the same thickness as the main should be pulled a couple of lbs tighter? Or is the difference negligible?

        2. For rackets that comes with a 1-piece stringing instruction (e.g. Babolat Pure Storms), would doing a 2-piece stringjob be bad for the frame in any way or shape?

        3. Does the current JET method still call for the Stringway flying clamps?

  5. ggtennis on said:


    1. Yes. Pull at same tension. The reason we discuss stiffness is to support why there is no need to vary the tension and why it actually creates a better playing stringbed with a thicker main and thinner cross.

    2. In our opinion, no. You can either use the pre-opened tie-off (on the Pure Storm it is one of the crosses…I think the 3rd cross from the top) or you can carefully create your own tie-off. NOTE: With the Pure Storm I usually use the 50/50 method for the crosses. When I get to the top I loop over cross #2 and go straight to the first cross. I then weave between #1 and #3 and tie off on #3. Also note my Pure Storm customers either use synthetics or a poly/gut hybrid. With a full poly setup I may look for another method.

    3. You can use Stringway flying clamps or fixed clamps. There are some variations depending on what type of clamping system you are using.

  6. seyfu on said:

    Interesting, will try a lower tension..
    But my question is, why do most pros still string their polys in the mid 50s?

  7. bobbyj on said:

    Hi guys,

    I would be interested in formal training in the JET method. Is it open to anyone or just dealers/retailers? How would one go about seeking such training. Would a person be required to use a drop weight constant pull machine? I am thinking about purchasing a Stringway, but haven’t gotten that far yet.

  8. GGTennis on said:

    Anyone is welcome to learn the JET Method. Our dealers who are certified in the method receive some benefits in terms of ordering in quantity.

    We have published the method on our blog site. The method works best the Stringway equipment, though using it is NOT a prerequisite. We also conduct live weekly JET demonstrations and answer questions about L-TEC as well. It is just an introduction, but a great way to learn. The sessions are held on Tuesday via a live webinar on Google+.


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