Do Tennis Strings Go Bad? Know When You Need Fresh Strings

If you just picked up your racket for the first time in a while, the strings may look a bit goofy. Maybe you just got the tennis itch again and you’re playing much more than you used to, so you’re not sure when you should be changing your strings. Finally, maybe you’re a frequent player but you’re not sure if you should change your strings or wait for them to break. If you’re asking yourself whether or not your strings are still good to use, you’re not alone. This is a common question asked by both occasional and regular players, and we will be sure to answer all your questions.

I’m glad you stumbled upon this article, because tennis strings do in fact go bad as they sit in a strung racket, whether they are being used or not. One reason for this is that strings lose tension over time, so strings that sit in a racket for a while go dead.

There are a lot of things to go into this. The biggest question that you should ask yourself is whether or not it will affect you. Conditioned players will notice more of a difference in old strings than players that decide to play a couple of times per year.

There are many factors that will affect the lifespan of a strung racket, and we will do our best to go through them thoughtout this article. Keep reading for everything you need to know regarding string life.

What happens when tennis strings go “bad”?

When tennis strings go bad, it is because they sit in a racket for too long. When a tennis racket is strung, the strings are pulled by the machine to create tension. The longer strings sit around, the more tension will be lost and they become dead over time. This affect is similar to that of a rubber band; as time goes on, it looses its pop and becomes mushy.

This dead feeling will promote a lack of feel, especially for experienced players. When playing with dead strings, you may find that your shots just don’t have the same “pop” or “bite.” This sensation is difficult to describe, but experienced players will feel that they are lacking a crisp contact.

All in all, strings that have gone bad will not give you everything that the string usually has to offer your game. You’ll find that your shots have less spin, power, and control. This is why if you are trying to get into tennis more consistently, it is important to be aware of when your strings are too dead to play effectively.

How long does it take for strings to go bad?

The short answer to this is that it depends on a variety of factors. Durability ratings are typically a good indicator of how long different strings will last before breaking. You can find this rating on if you click on any string product.

Remember that when you’re researching and see the durability rating, that refers to how long a string will last before it breaks. Therefore, it doesn’t apply to how long they will last in a racket without being used. That difference is important.

If you do not break strings, there is a general rule of thumb for club players. This rule says that you should be stringing your racket the amount of times you play per week. So, if you play 4 times per week, you should be restringing your racket 4 times per year. This rule is good enough for recreational players, but there are too many factors that go into it to put an accurate rule on it.

When deciding how often you should be restringing your racket, you should be taking the following factors into account:

  • How hard you are hitting the ball?
  • How much spin you typically have on your shots?
  • What type of string you are using?
  • Are you playing doubles or singles?

Do What Feels Right

If you are a fairly conditioned player, you will be able to feel when your strings begin to feel “off.” Many players will find that their rackets are ready to be restrung before the strings break. Don’t be shy to get your racket restrung before the strings break, or your game will suffer.

Signs That Your Racket Should Be Restrung

It’s better to know the signs that your racket should be restrung rather than follow some “rule of thumb” that you see online. Here are the signs that you need to know:

  • Strings are “fraying” significantly
  • Strings are moving; much more crooked than normal after points
  • Strings make a “thud” sound at contact
  • You feel that your ball has far less control than normal
  • Strings make a screeching sound when you move them with your fingers; they should glide on each other without a lot of friction

When in doubt, ask a trusted coach or experienced player for their advice.

Strings Can Go Bad Without Being Used

As we mentioned before, strings can go bad without even being used. That being said, the standard of when strings go “bad” comes down to player preference. Professionals will be able to tell the differerence in a racket that was strung the day prior and a racket that was strung a week prior. However, most amateurs won’t be able to tell the difference between a freshly strung racket or one that was strung 6 months prior.

You can tell if your strings are dead by the signs below. You’ll notice that many of them are similar to the list above, but strings that haven’t seen much use will not fray.

  • Strings are moving; much more crooked than normal after points
  • Strings make a “thud” sound at contact
  • You feel that your ball has far less control than normal
  • Strings make a screeching sound when you move them with your fingers; they should glide on each other without a lot of friction

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is tennis strings do go bad over time. They become dead and lose their pop, so it is important to know when it’s time to replace them. The tips above should give you a good idea of when that will be. When in doubt, ask a trusted coach for advice. Generally, it is better to restring if there is a doubt. You will benefit from using fresher strings.

If you have any more specific questions about this, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below or on Instagram @mytennishq. Best of luck!

Austin Rapp

Hi there! My name is Austin Rapp and since I picked up a racket at age 8, I worked hard to improve my game. I was never the most talented junior, but I tried to learn the game to give myself an edge. I earned the privilege of playing at UCLA for 4 years, serving as team captain for my last 2. In my time there, I took advantage of the coaching and great talent around me to grow my knowledge of the game and became an All-American. I am currently playing professional tennis, ranked top 700 in singles and top 350 in doubles. Above all, my favorite tennis moments were hitting with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal at Indian Wells!

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