Category Archives: Tips
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.
So, it has been a while since you had your racquet strung and you are standing on the court about to receive and you ask yourself; “I wonder when I should get my racquet strung”.
Now is probably not the best time to think of it but if you do simply take a look at the short video for a quick answer;
In dictionary terms it is:
“the amount of extension of an object under stress.”
In tennis terms, it means the same thing when talking about tennis racquet strings.
How much does a string stretch under the reference tension load or otherwise stretched (impact)? The proliferation of wrist, arm and shoulder injury has brought attention to the property of “stiffness.” The problem is that your stiffness may be different than my stiffness, so there needs to be an “index” associated with each string, in my opinion. I have that data on over 500 tennis strings, but that is just me.
The images show the results of high elongation (left) and low elongation (right) string upon breaking.
Several years ago a player asked me “where is the string that is missing?” Well, it is not missing. The ends you see should be connected!
If the string has little elongation when it breaks there is nothing “pulling” it apart like the high elongation string. So each time you hit the ball, the string either elongates a bunch or it doesn’t.
In the case of the high elongation string, on the left, it absorbs a good portion of the “shock” associated with a hard hit, whereas the low elongation string, on the right, lets your body do the absorbing to a great extent.
So, it is reasonable to use very low reference tensions for low elongation string (35 to 45 pounds; 16 to 20.5 Kg) and higher tensions (45 to 60 pounds; 20.5 to 27.2 Kg) for high elongation strings.
You may ask, “how do I know how stiff a string is?” If you see the word “polyester or co-polyester” it is likely that string wil be stiff compared to natural gut, most nylon based multi-filament construction, and PEEK (Zyex) material. In my opinion, there is no “bad” string just “bad” applications. If in doubt…ask!
In all the years I have been involved in tennis racquets I have worked with players of all levels, from top-ranked to no ranking at all! The one thing that remains constant is that every player received the same attention to a goal.
Typically that goal is to win!
As I reflect on the high points of this journey there are a few players that really stand out. One of those players is Brittany Tagliareni.
- Brittany is one of the best tennis players in the world.
- Brittany has won many awards and accolades from the tennis community and press.
- Brittany is Autistic.
Here is the deal. Every day I talk to players about the most minuscule of performance specifications…one (1) gram here, one gram there, one (1) pound here, and so on.
Brittany is different.
Brittany is very busy and wants to get to her next function whether it is taking care of dogs or tennis! She really doens’t want to talk to me about tennis racquets!
So, to really understand what needs to be done her mother, Catherine, communicates for Brittany.
Brittany plays with a Yonex SV100 racquet strung with Ashaway Monogut ZX at 46 pounds.
She travels with three (3) matched racquets. This is where it gets interesting and one of the reasons I wanted to write this post.
Brittany needed some extra encouragement to hold the racquet with the proper grip (she is left-handed) to generate the amount of spin her coach wanted her to have. Just telling Brittany how to hold the racquet was not consistently working so we re-shaped the grip to offer some tactile “encouragement”.
The grip has been changed to have different “feelings” for each bevel of the grip shape. So one side is exaggerated for a certain length on the grip and other sides were accentuated shape wise.
The grip re-shaping had to be done in a laminated way because it works, is expedient, and minimizes costs associated with major grip modifications.
Now when Brittany holds the racquet she can feel exactly where it needs to be.
Brittany is incredibly busy so it is difficult to keep up with all of her travels. Most recently she was in Dubai!
I am talking about our String Frequency Calculator tool. As of right now, as far as I know, WordPress does not support “interactive” spreadsheets, so our calculator is far, far, away running on One Drive!
Each time you enter user information it goes to the “cloud” and the calculation is made, then returned to racqeutquest.com, and you. It seems like a long way around but for now, that is what we have.
Here is how you can help. One Drive puts the application to “sleep” if the spreadsheet is not “active” for a short period. Then it has to be “jump started” which causes the blank display you may see. The fix is to keep it active! So every five (5) minutes or so do a calculation!
We think the information is fun and meaningful so please continue to use the Stringing Frequency Calculator!