A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 30, 2012
“String tight for control, loose for power” (racket adage)

"Tight for control, loose for power” is an adage for stringing a tennis racket or racquetball racquet, cited in print since at least 1983. The theory is that looser strings result in greater “dwell time” (like a trampoline) on the racket, causing more power. However, it’s also been said that the increase in power is very minimal and that control comes from the player, not the racket.


Google Books
World Tennis
Volume 31, Issues 7-12
1983
Pg. 162:
What’s Your Best String Tension? A good rule is “tight for control, loose for power.”

26 January 1995, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, “Choosing right equipment is more than a lot of racket,” pg. B2:
Follow these rules: (1) String looser for power, tighter for control; ...

Google Groups: rec.sport.tennis
Steve Peterson
Apr 7 1996
(...)
The general rule is:  String tight for control, loose for power.  I think you get better “feel” from looser strings, but this is a very subjective matter.  I am aware of very little information comparing string tension with durability, except to say that if you string VERY tight, durability will suffer.

Google Books
The Physics and Technology of Tennis
By Howard Brody, Rodney Cross and Crawford Lindsey
Solana Beach, CA: Racquet Tech Pub
2002
Pg. 246:
There is an old adage in tennis that says, “String tight for control, loose for power.” Is this true, just a perception that players have, or another of the tennis myths that are not correct when put to the test? If you look at some of the tennis magazines of 20 to 30 years ago, you would find just the opposite advice.

Google Books
Tennis Fundamentals
By Carol Matsuzaki
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
2004
Pg. X:
TENSIONS
Tight for control
Loose for power

String Along With Vince
STRINGING FOR ARM COMFORT {2004}
By Vince Chiarelli, PTR, MRT and Owner of String Along With Vince in Largo
Three stringing factors can add up to arm comfort: tension, gauge, and string type. Tension should be as low as possible without causing the ball to fly over the baseline when hitting your normal shots. One or two pounds lower will not make an appreciable difference. Five to ten pounds would be more like it. In my opinion the adage, “String loose for power and tight for control” is only half right. You definitely get more power with looser strings, but control comes from the player, not the strings. The critical thing in control is the contact point along with the amount of spin.

stringforum.net
Jay Cee
2005-04-11, 08:04
(...)
For quite some time the debate raged on about “string tight for power, loose for control” or visa-versa. It now appears that the general consensus is that stringing tighter increases control but we also know that in the process other things change. For example, in smaller head racquets where the sweet spot is at a minimum to begin with, you can actually reduce the existing sweet spot even more by stringing tighter in an effort to gain more control. So we know we have a delicate balance when working with such frames . We also know that the resulting control from stringing tighter is not because it produces more dwell time, it’s actually the opposite.

Racquet Sports Industry magazine
Outlook 2005: String
Research into strings and stringing are leading to a whole new understanding of their effects on play.

By Crawford Lindsey
(...)
Tension and Power
Perhaps the most startling revelation is how altering string tension affects power (ball velocity). The old adage “string loose for power, tight for control” still holds, just not to the extent that we previously thought (i.e., looser strings will not change power by 20 percent, 10 percent, or even 5 percent).

Yahoo! Answers (July 11, 2011)
RICHARD E. MARKS
(...)
Another false “fact” is string tight for control or loose for power. Crosses tests showed this too was false. See the book Physics and Technology of Tennis. What happens is that if the string is tight if feels like it has a lot of power, so a player is afraid to hit hard. Instead he plays a lot of attention to the shot and subconsciously hits easier with more control. Alternatively a looser string feels dead, so the player thinks he has to swing harder and the ball travels more.

But in our tennis shop we always say string loose for power and tight for control. We do this for two reasons. First - the customer does no want to hear and think about this technical explanation. Second - the customer wants to hear something. If we say - no real difference he will think we have some sort of weird shop.

Livestrong
The Best Types of Tennis Rackets
Apr 29, 2012 | By Sam Ellyn
(...)
Strings
No matter what type of racket you buy, the strings will greatly determine how it plays. Regarding string tension, the basic tenet is, “Tight for control, loose for power.” Tight strings produce less rebound and more control, while loose strings are more elastic and, like a trampoline, project the ball with more rebound. The thickness or gauge of a string will affect how the racket plays, as well. A thicker (lower-gauge) string gives more control, while thinner strings add more spin and power.

Tennis.com—The Pro Shop byJustin Difeliciantonio
String Theory: Stringbeds, Tension, and Performance
05/15/2012 - 1:28 PM
String Theory is a regular segment that delves into the science and/or technology of strings. Today, we open up Rod Cross and Crawford Lindsey’s book Technical Tennis and take a look at how several relatively unexpected racquet variables—from string patterns to head size and grommet systems—can affect stringbed stiffness and, by extension, performance.
(...)
For the most part, then, the old saying still holds water: “String loose for power, tight for control.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Wednesday, May 30, 2012 • Permalink