Tennis Racket String Patterns

This article will provide you with a basic guide to the string pattern options you have when buying a new racket e.g. 16×19 vs 18×20.

I will also look at the pro of cons of using each of the different options, so you will have a better idea as to which may be the best for your game.

Guide to String Patterns used in Tennis Rackets

What is a String Pattern in Tennis?

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

For a 16×19 racket, the first number (16) refers to the number of main strings in the head.

If you were to hold a racket with the face pointing towards you, the main string would be the strings going from the bottom of the face to the top.

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

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


When choosing which option to go with, you first need to decide whether you want an Open (16×19) or a Closed Pattern (18×20).

Open vs Closed

A racket with an open pattern (16×19) will have fewer main strings than a closed pattern (18×20) and therefore will have greater spacing between the main and cross strings.

The main benefit of having a pattern that is open 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 racket with a closed (denser) pattern will have more main strings than an open pattern so there will have less spacing between the main and cross strings.

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

16×19 vs 18×20

Below I have listed some of the pros and cons of using a 16×19 frame versus an 18×20 frame.

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

  • Less control than 18×20 frames
  • 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 18×20 frames

18×20 Pros

  • Good level of control.
  • A longer string life.

18×20 Cons

  • With an 18×20 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 should you Choose?

If you are a beginner to an intermediate player then I would recommend that you go for a 16×19 racket 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 an 18×20 racket.

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