Tennis Racket String Patterns

This article will provide you with a basic guide to the string patterns used in tennis rackets e.g. 16×19 vs 18×20.

I will also look at what the numbers mean and how the string pattern of your racket can affect its performance.

Guide to String Patterns used in Tennis Rackets

What is a String Pattern in Tennis?

A String Pattern in tennis refers to the number of main and cross strings on a tennis racket, with the most common string patterns in modern tennis being 16×19 and 18×20.

For example, for a racket with a string pattern of 16×19, the first number (16) refers to the number of main strings on the tennis racket.

The main strings are the vertical strings on a tennis racket so if you were to hold a racket with the racket face pointing towards you, these would be the strings going from the bottom of the racket face to the top.

The second number (19) refers to the number of cross strings on the racket.

As their name suggests, these are the horizontal strings that cross from one side of the racket to the other.

One other thing to note, the main strings are the most important strings on a racket so whatever strings you have in the mains, will dominate the touch and feel of a racket.

String Pattern Options

When choosing a string pattern, you first need to decide whether you want an Open or a Closed String Pattern.

An example of an open string pattern would be a 16×19 string pattern while an example of a closed string pattern would be an 18×20 string pattern.

Open vs Closed String Patterns

A tennis racket with an open string pattern will have fewer main strings than a closed string pattern and therefore will have greater spacing between the main and cross strings.

The main benefit of having an open string pattern is that it will be easier to hit spin so that you can hit higher over the net but still be confident that the ball will land in play.

A tennis racket with a closed (denser) string pattern will have more main strings than an open string pattern so there will have less spacing between the main and cross strings.

A more dense string pattern is usually favored by tennis players who like to hit the ball flat and prefer control over spin on their shots.

16×19 vs 18×20 Tennis Rackets

16×19 Pros

  • Easier to generate topspin on your shots
  • The extra topspin will also mean you will be able to hit the ball harder and still have the ball land in.

16×19 Cons

  • Generally speaking rackets with a more open pattern will have less control than a similar racket with a more closed pattern.
  • As you will be hitting more topspin on your shots, it is likely that the longevity of your strings will not be as good as a racket with a closed pattern.

18×20 Pros

  • Tennis Rackets with a closed pattern will generally have more control that a similar racket with an open pattern
  • A longer string life when compared to a racket with an open pattern.

18×20 Cons

  • With a closed pattern, you will be more likely to hit a flatter ball as the trajectory of the ball from your racket will be lower.
  • As you will have less natural topspin on your shots, then you may have to go for less on your shots so that you ensure your groundstrokes do not sail long.

Which String Pattern should I Choose?

If you are a beginner to intermediate tennis player then I would recommend that you go for a tennis racket with an open string pattern as this will help you generate more topspin on your shots.

If you get to a more advanced level and you want more control then you can think about switching to a racket with a more closed string pattern.

Remember that you also have the option of going for a string pattern that is in between an open and a closed string pattern e.g. 16×20 or 18×19 as these tennis rackets try and offer the best of both worlds.