"The Dead Zone"
Have you ever wondered what happens to the tennis strings with time and use... Do the strings go dead??
When a string loses tension, it becomes softer and with age it also dries-up... that is all that changes in a string. It does not lose power, resiliency or "go dead" as you may have heard. It simply becomes less stiff and thus feels different to the player. So what happens to strings with time and use? If strings don't go dead, what is it that changes and why do players have a hard time... loss of control, soft or dead feeling and lack of power? Basically, there are two significant changes that occur...
First, the strings relax internally and lose tension... which causes the strings to become less stiff. When this happens, at impact the ball imbeds deeper into the string bed and stays there a fraction of a second longer, before being sent off at a higher trajectory than usual. The ball then travels farther and is usually perceived by the player as having more power and a loss of control.
Second, as strings wear with time, they get roughed-up and dry-up... so they no longer slide against each other as easily. With gut and multifilament strings, the outer fibers break and wear, making the coating rougher and less likely to slide. Monofilament and monocore strings will actually notch as they wear and are more difficult to move at all.
Both of these changes that occur... tension loss and friction increase, happen to every string regardless of the string's composition or the tension at which it is strung. Each string and situation is unique and the changes will occur at different rates depending on the string and the playing style of the player. One string may lose tension quickly but maintain its ability to slide, which will make it feel like it gains power and loses control. Another string may hold tension better but begin to stick to itself more; resulting in less spin and power, and making the strings feel dead. So the strings are simultaneously gaining and losing in power behaviors or in stiffness and softness characteristics... It is up to the players to determine what their comfort zone is and when it is time to restring the racquet to get the right feel that player desires.
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