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Snap-Back or String Friction? We All Want More Spin!

Spin like a pro

"I want more spin!" I talk to myself when I play tennis and golf. I know I can't hit a 250 km/h serve in tennis or a 350-yard driver shot in golf. But I still feel that I should be able to spin the ball more, as it seems easier and effortlessly. I know I am not alone, as I know that all the manufacturers make and advertise spin-specific tennis strings and golf balls.

The ultimate spin stringing pattern in tennis history

In 1971, Werner Fischer invented a new stringing pattern/method that generated a tremendous spin rate. The stringing pattern was later called "Spaghetti String." A lower-ranked player (about No. 200) with a spaghetti string racket beat a player ranked No. 4. Additionally, 900-tour-winner, Guillermo Vilas, withdrew from a match with Ilie Nastase, who used a spaghetti string racket. These incidents with the ridiculous spin caused the International Tennis Federation to ban "Spaghetti String" in 1978.

"Spaghetti String" pattern - tiny tubes were inserted at the main and cross strings' intersection. So, the friction between the main and the cross strings was minimized, which boosted the 'slides' of the strings.

Although it was banned in 1978, no one knew the scientific mechanism for why the "Spaghetti String" amplifies ball spin.

(From Kawazoe-Lab)

How does the tennis ball spin occur?

In 2005, Howard Brody presented the "Snap-back" theory (influenced by Yoshihiko Kawazoe), which finally provided the scientific mechanism of "Spaghetti String," and it blew the world's tennis players. According to the theory, the tennis ball spin occurs by the snap-back action of the strings.

(From Kawazoe-lab by The Atlantic, January/February 2011)

As you can imagine, more snap-back action occurs in smoother-surface strings. After the presentation of the snap-back theory, many researchers and players attempted to support the theory with high-speed cameras, TrackMan, or even simple experiments with silicone spray or WD-40.

However, you must have a certain swing speed, a right-face angle, and a right-string tension to generate an effective snap-back. Thus advanced players tend to use polyester strings which are harder and smoother than nylon strings. For GOSEN, G-TOUR 1 16LGA, G-TOUR 3 17GA, G-SPIN 3 16LGA, G-SPIN 3 17GA, and SIDEWINDER 17GA are categorized as spin-oriented polyester strings. Additionally, the special silicone coating is applied on the surface of G-TOUR 1, G-TOUR 3, and G-SPIN 3 to improve the spin.

GOSEN's R&D and experiments for more spin

As a developer and manufacturer of tennis strings, GOSEN did a lot of research on tennis ball spin. During a recent interview with Windsor Racket Shop in Japan, Mr. Yohata, a GOSEN's tennis string R&D Team member, revealed his experiences and studies on spin strings.

According to GOSEN's research, the friction of the string surface is also a factor affecting the improvement of the ball spin. The string surface, with more resistance, increases the ball spin. Therefore, even if the player doesn't have a fast swing speed and advanced technique to generate snap-back, the rough surface strings help players to spin the ball effectively.

During the interview, Mr. Yohata talked about his fun experiment on researching spin string. GOSEN manufactures many types of string for various industries, such as automotive, medical, and industrial. The string for grass trimmers is one of GOSEN's products.

It is not just a durable string; GOSEN developed star-shaped (cross-section) grass trimmer strings for more effective grass cutting. When Mr. Yohata strung the grass trimmer string on the tennis racket, he struggled to bring the ball over the net because of the ridiculous spin. After several attempts and strokes, he noticed the yellow fuzz, from the tennis ball, all over the tennis court.

GOSEN developed uniquely shaped strings such as hexagonal (G-SPIN Series) and twisted (Polylon Series), to increase the spin. These specially shaped strings increase friction to help players to spin the ball without the snap-back action.

Different types of spin strings for different types of players

GOSEN also produces many other tennis strings with different structures and materials, promoting the spin rate, even if they are not "smooth polyester" or "uniquely shaped" strings. For instance, one of the most famous GOSEN products, OG-SHEEP MICRO SUPER 16LGA, has been known as the 'spin' string for many decades. In addition, AK CONTROL 17GA and AK PRO CX 17GA (Best Seller!) are UMISHIMA structured and well-balanced spin strings.

One of my tennis friends (he is an advanced player) recently tried GOSEN's newest strings, LuXairAssist 16LGA and LuXairBiTe 16LGA. I was surprised when he told me that the strings spin a lot, since I didn't expect spin from these strings. This is because LuXair has a new coating technology called LFS (Low Friction Silicon) Coating. LFS Coating disperses impact by smoothing the movement of the strings, resulting in a softer hitting feel and better durability. Additionally, the low friction (by LFS Coating) between the main and cross strings promotes snap-back action, leading to more spin.

Friction Test of GOSEN LuXair Tennis String
Friction Test of LuXair