I know many players who will use the strings in their racquet until they break. Well, most of us do.
I've even seen good tennis players leave the same set of strings in their racquets for over a year!
But that can be problematic, especially once you begin to compete at a higher level. Strings lose their playability over time and can have a disastrous impact on your game.
When to restring
I personally don't use the same strings once they have been in my racquet for over 10 hours of play. Typically they break well before that time, but if they don't, I cut them out.
The United States Racquet Stringers Association (USRSA) recommends that you string your racquet three to four times a year minimum.
If you are a 4.0 player, I recommend that you restring your racquet at least six times per year.
If you're a 4.5 player or above I recommend you string your racquet at least once every four weeks for maximum playability.
Enemy No. 1: Heat
I used to keep my racquets in the trunk of my car. Anyone else guilty of this?
The trunk of your car can easily get to a toasty 130 degrees Farenheit to 140 degrees F on a hot day. I love to have my racquets with me everywhere I go just in case I get the chance to play unexpectedly.
However, after I read the following quote from "Be Kind to Your Racquet" by Scott Coleman, I have opted for other options to store my racquets:
"The (USRSA) conducted an experiment, using Prince Topspin, around a seemingly reasonable temperature of 115 degrees F. The experiment showed that a racquet strung at 60 pounds exposed for one hour lost three pounds. After three hours it lost 7.5 pounds. Two hours is the average duration of a club match. If it is 90 degrees, it is 110-120 degrees on the court depending on the court surface.
As you can see, improper care of your racquet can do some serious damage to your strings, resulting in a string tension you are not too familiar with."
I realize that there are some great players out there who do not hit with a lot of spin, thus keeping their strings from breaking quickly.
Just keep in mind that even though your strings haven't broken, they're not the same strings put in your racquet two or three months ago. The worst place to leave your racquet is in the trunk of your car. Do whatever you can to find a way to keep them in a cooler environment.
Search for your next tennis event.