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You're Only as Good as your String Job
Once a year or so, I have to quell all the racquetball related stringing issues. With the summer heat stretching strings…this seems like the perfect time.
In a given year, we string about 6,000 racquetball racquets, along with about 100 tennis and 100 squash racquets. We get racquetball racquets sent to us from all over the country and from around the world (thanks military guys & gals!). What we see come in to us is sometimes heartbreaking…take a look at a couple of pictures… trust me, I could have shown hundreds more!
Racquetball racquets are by far the most complicated of all racquet equipment to string correctly. Tennis, Squash and Badminton are all essentially basket weaving…strings go up and stings go across. Racquetball has hundreds of unique patterns. There are hollow handles, frames without holes all the way through, grommetless systems, sunburst patterns, concentric circle patterns, two piece string patterns, frames that don't fit on stringing machines, and about a thousand other little unique characteristics. When taken as a whole, a racquetball player requires an expert racquetball stringer to string his racquet to optimum playability. I'm not forcing our stringing service on anyone, I am letting you know it exists. Just a warning that generic stringers or general tennis stringers (aka Sports Authority and other large retail chains) really have no business stringing racquetball frames. They honestly get more wrong then right. When they get them wrong, we get the plea for help to fix the racquet that now sucks! It's beyond frustration for both of us. You don't have to choose us, but please choose your racquetball stringer wisely!!
I would like to remind you all of a few timeless stringing ditties:
…Looser strings (to a point) provide more power. Tighter strings provide more control. It may seem backward… but it's true!
…Strings will stretch and become looser over a string life (especially string that is not pre-stretched such as Technifibre). This is inevitable. Nothing can take the repeated pounding and remain the same.
Because your strings move does not mean your string job is bad. This is the biggest call we get here at RacquetWorld. Optimal tension for racquetball racquets is 30-34 lbs. Let's say you have an E-Force or Wilson racquet that has strings that run through or along the handle. Each of your mains is approximately six inches longer than other racquets…if we string longer string at the same tension (per manufacturer's specs) they will flex more. More flexing is more power..but flexing means these strings slide over each other and then move back into place. Strings don't exactly spring back into place each time, so often you notice your strings have moved and they are no longer lined up perfectly. This is normal. I realign my strings between almost every point as do 99% of the Pros!
You can get around this as some manufacturers do on factory stringing. While they list the optimum string tension for play at 30-34 lbs., they don't want to field calls complaining about moving or loose strings. To avoid this, out of the factory racquets come strung as high as 45 lbs in some cases. Players rarely complain about tight strings..you won't even realize anything is wrong until you get a restring to recommended specs. Then, more than likely, you will assume the racquet was strung improperly when all along you were playing with less than optimal string tension.
Bottom line...your racquet will play better at spec tension. However, the distraction of moving strings may overshadow any benefit you are most likely to receive…if this is the case for you, ask to have your racquet strung very tight above spec.
Our best string (Technifibre 505 HPR) is premium string. It is made up of over 1200 individual string fibers wrapped with an outer sheath. It is one of the only strings on the market that is not pre-stretched. These two components lead to two important points; First is how this string wears. With 1200 individual strings, it will eventually begin to fray. The strings will grow fuzzy…this is normal…not a defect in the strings but normal. Fraying bothers some players who have never experienced it before…just hang in and play until the string breaks. You'll be amazed! The second issue is tension…we have to string Technifibre tighter to compensate for the higher degree of stretch that will occur during the first 2 week break in period. Your strings will seem somewhat stiff at first and will likely not move…then they will move as they come into the perfect playing tension and you then begin to experience the powerful trampoline effect.
It's July…and it's hot outside!! Strings are vulnerable to heat so don't leave your racquets in your closed cars this summer. They need to breath cool fresh air just like you!
Happy 4th…be safe!
Questions or comment…Pat@Racquetworld.com
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