Skip to Content

Why You Shouldn’t Play Tennis With Broken Strings

JSep / Shutterstock

We all been there; you’re in the middle of an important game during a tennis match and all of a sudden you realize that something is wrong. You look down, and you find out what you suspected; you broke your racquet strings!

The common thing to do is to use another racquet, however, on a few occasions, I’ve seen club players continue playing with broken string for the rest of the match. So, today, I’ll like to discuss why that’s not a good idea!

Therefore, why you shouldn’t play tennis with broken strings? Playing with broken strings can be extremely difficult, the more you hit with broken strings, the less control of the ball you’ll have. As a result, you’ll lose confidence in your game, making it even harder to play good tennis.

Also, hitting with broken strings will damage your racquet, and potentially deform the frame. Besides, you’ll be increasing your risk of injury due to the constant racket vibration every time you hit the ball. And on top of all that, you might not even be allowed to play with broken strings, giving you no other option but to forfeit the match.

If you’re still thinking that playing tennis with broken strings is not a big deal, please continue reading.

Less and less control of the ball

If you decide to play with broken strings, you’ll realize really quickly that you are not able to hit the ball accurately. If you continue hitting the ball, you’ll have less and less control of the ball until it’s almost impossible to play.

Since you lost a lot of tension on your racquet, your shots will be all over the place. Also, it’ll be hard for you to stay at the baselines and hit groundstrokes with power and/ or topspin. As a result, your placement of the ball will be way off. Especially, you’ll have a tough time making touch shots or your shots that required a lot of precision.

Confidence out the window

Since you won’t be able to stroke the ball, as usual, you’ll lose confidence in your game, making things even worse. As tennis players, we know that the mental aspect is a crucial part to perform well on the court. So, if your mind is distracted with the broken string and from the lack of ball control, you can imagine how difficult will be to focus on each point and try bounce back from mistakes and missed shots.

Damage your racket

When you break strings, the tension of your racket goes off balance, and the tension becomes uneven throughout the racket frame. Therefore, the strings will be exerting an irregular force on the racket due to the uneven pull of the other strings that are not broken.

Consequently, this will cause the racket frame to contort or bend, deforming your racket, making things even worse. So, unless you want to end with a deform and funny looking racket, make sure not to play with broken strings. In extreme cases, the frame can crack due to the uneven tension around the racquet produce by the intact strings.

Increase your risk of injury

If the previous reasons were not convincing enough, maybe knowing that you could jeopardize your health and, therefore your tennis future (either by injuring your arm, elbow or hand) might change your mind.

When playing with broken strings is possible that your arm may start hurting because of the racquet vibration when hitting the ball. This is caused due to the strings absorbing less vibration, increasing the jarring of the racket when stroking the ball.

Tennis elbow is thought to be caused by having to much strings tension on your racquet. And although is recommended losing your racket strings to prevent tennis elbow, don’t think that having less tension due to broken strings will keep your elbow safe. The vibration of your racket might cause other elbow problems.

You might have to forfeit the match

Nevertheless, if you’re playing on the U.S., the USTA allows players to play with broken strings or rackets unless it’s prohibited explicitly by the tournament. So, if you have no choice but to play with broken strings on a tournament match, make sure to check the tournament regulations and rules on playing with broken string before your opponent convince you to concede the match.

In some cases, depending on the tournament, you might not even be allowed to continue playing with broken strings. The reason is that it could be considered as tampering with the racquet which is not permitted.

Kamil Macniak / Shutterstock

So, what to do instead?

So, instead of playing with broken strings, you should cut all the strings of your racquet to release the uneven tension on the racket. For cutting the strings, I’ll suggest using nail clippers, however, regular scissors will work as well. Some people even recommend cutting the strings as soon as possible because there is a chance that if the racket is left for an extended period with the broken strings it might start deforming.

A few last words

Remember, unless you broke strings during the middle of a point, there’s really no reason for you to play a tennis point with broken strings. Make sure always to carry a second racquet when playing matches. In most cases, there’ll be someone that will let you borrow his racket, including your opponent. However, in the extreme case that you cannot borrow a racket, and you have to continue playing because of the importance of the match, I sincerely wish you good luck!

Related Questions

What to do when you break strings in the middle of a tennis point?
  • When you break strings in the middle of a point you should continue playing the point until the end; remember that breaking strings is not a let. However, I’ll suggest trying to finish the point a soon as you can, because playing with broken strings is not easy. Since you lost the tension on your strings, every ball that you hit will be traveling further than usual, given you less control over the ball. As a result, a good strategy is to come to the net, as soon as you can, to finish the point.
What to do you when your opponent breaks strings in the middle of a tennis point?
  • When your opponent breaks strings in the middle of a point try to keep the point going as long as possible, or force your opponent to hit a passing shot by coming to the net. Keep in mind the breaking strings is not a let, keep playing the point. Since your opponent has less tension on his strings, he’ll have less and less control of the ball every time he hits the ball. So, eventually, he’ll make a mistake. The second option is to come to the net so he stays back, forcing him to either hit a lob or a passing shot, in both cases, he’ll be more likely to make a mistake.
Why shouldn’t you take the strings of your racket by hand?
  • The reason why you shouldn’t take the strings of your racket by hand is that by making the strings come out from one or two holes, you’ll be forcing a lot of uneven pressure on the racquet. This can cause the frame of your racquet to deform. Instead, you should cut the strings with any type of scissors or nail clippers, starting from the center and continuing outwards.