Will Poor Stringing Save the Life of Polyester?
OK, here’s the deal. I have written about this several times and each time I decided that it was a waste of time, so it goes back into a file somewhere!
The time is now that we really need to understand more about stringing as a consumer and what we can do as racquet technicians to make the life of a player better, more fun, and safer.
This a quick story to set the premise of the rest.
Several weeks ago I received a freshly strung (24 hours) racquet to perhaps make a few modifications to the racquet. The racquet was strung by the player, a very good junior with a high ranking. The racquet was 18×20 with a full bed of polyester at 53 pounds. When I asked why the response was “I have always done it this way”. Fair enough!
The string bed stiffness (SBS) using the Beer’s ERT300 was 23, the SBS using the Babolat RDC was 29, and the SBS using the FlexFour was 50. If you are familiar with these data, you know the numbers are quite low.
The racquet had only one mis-weave and one crossover, but it was severely distorted, i.e., very wide.
For a quick comparison, a properly strung racquet would have numbers like 36, 58, and 67 respectively.
So, the “softness” of the string bed when improperly strung was something that may not transmit as much shock to the body as a racquet that was properly strung at the requested 53 pounds and has a higher SBS!
Therefore a poor stringing may save the life of polyester based string! It may not be good for performance or racquet integrity but it seems that very few players care!
So what do we do?
For years I have been advocating for the use of a finished SBS instead of a “reference tension”. Why? Because each stringer and stringing machine probably produce a different result.
If a player comes to us and requests an SBS of 37 (Beers ERT300 for example), we can adjust the stringing machine to produce that SBS number. Our machines may be set at 40 to achieve the requested 37, and another shop may have to set their machine to something different. The object is to arrive at the finished SBS, and it is up to the racquet technician to be able to do that! The result will be a better performing racquet that will last longer.