Category Archives: Tension
Several years ago, when we were beginning to increase the use of Ashaway MonoGut ZX and ZX Pro, it was not unusual to get a call from a client saying, “my coach says I should not be using polyester!” We could not agree more, and you are not using polyester!
You are using PEEK polymer! This string material was, and still is, referred to as Zyex with polymer production capabilities of Victrex in England.
Given the appearance of MonoGut ZX, Babolat Origin, and a few other non-polyester monofilament strings, it is not easy to distinguish these from stiffer polyester material strings. So know your string!
Single strand (monofilament) strings will have a gleaming surface unless they have been through a “roughing” process. So will monofilament strings of different materials. It is hard to tell just by looking, and that is what can create some confusion on behalf of the coach and subsequently, the player. So know your string!
If your racquet technician does not put a label on the racquet that identifies the material (or string), then be sure to ask what material you are using. The material choices may be natural gut, Zyex (PEEK), Nylon, and Polyester. The string construction may be referred to as a monofilament, multi-filament, single wrap, etc. however, the material will probably be one of these four.
Know your string! If you are unsure, contact your racquet technician or “Ask John” on this site, and we will try to help.
The StringMeter is a device used to check the tension of an individual string. There are other versions of similar functionality, but this is what we use, and I will start with that.
Interestingly, this device traces its design to a tool that is used to check mainstay tension on a sailing vessel.
It is clear that our devices are well used, so they must be a “friend,” not a “foe”! And to that, I would say yes! The two (2) units shown here are “calibrated” units. One device is “free string,” and the other is “strung string.” These are different scales and very important for accurate information.
When we evaluate string or stringing machines, one of the most important values is the string tension with only the main strings installed. Using the “free string” scale, we check every main string and record the number.
Once the racquet is fully strung, we can check some center main strings and center cross strings with the “strung string” scale and see the variation. The difference between the two is the “natural ratio” of the racquet.
In addition to the stringing machine review use of the StringMeter, we also use it to calculate our “accuracy index.”
For this, we use the “strung string” scale and check each main string tension from left to right and every cross string tension from top to bottom and compare the actual numbers to the calculated numbers based on a non-distorted racquet. This spreadsheet shows how accurately the ball will come off of the racquet face.
The “efficiency index” tells us how much the racquet needs to change shape to reach that “index.”
These are all essential functions of the StringMeter and String Tension Tester from Gamma Sports.
But, what if the StringMeter or other device is used without knowing what it is telling the user?
This is the “foe” part!
This would be the case if a customer with such a device has a racquet strung at say a reference tension of 55 pounds. The customer then uses the method to check the tension and finds that it is not 55 pounds or even close! The customer is not going to be happy!
If the customer knows what to do, they can check the main string tension as soon as they can after stringing, then, later on, to see how much the string has stretched without regard to the reference tension.
It is what it is!
When the racquet is no longer performing it would tell the customer how much the tension can deteriorate before stringing is required.
So, these devices are very useful for individual string tension but no so much for “string bed stiffness,” which is the total string bed as a ball impacts it.
We will look at some of the “string bed stiffness” devices in a future post.
Management is not just for adults! Juniors that play tournaments need to have some management skills! During this coronavirus slow down it is a good time to learn some of these management skills.
We see many different management slip-ups such as no racquets for the tournament tomorrow! All racquets have broken string and are at the bottom of a bag nobody wants to stick their hand into!
Juniors Management Tip #1:
Every Monday takes every racquet out of the bag. If one or more are broken leave them out of the bag.
Juniors Management Tip #2
To get some idea of how much longer the string may last simply try to move the 5th or 6th cross string by pulling up toward the top of the racquet. If you can not pull the cross string up it is time for stringing. If you are able to pull a cross string up pay attention to the “snap” it makes as you push it back into location. A serious “snap” indicates a deep notch.
Monofilament strings typically fail by notching which makes it difficult to move the cross strings. If your string is a multi-filament and looks like the picture on the left it is time to string!
What if neither of these conditions exists?
Every racquet in your bag should have a tag indicating when the racquet was last strung and if it has been more than one month it is time to string, period!
Just for fun you can go to our SFC function and get a good ideas as to how many times per year yu need to have your racquet strung.
When we do a racquet review we try to deal with numbers! Static and dynamic numbers to be precise. We do this so each racquet can be referred to by properties and not just by subjective comments. Make no mistake, subjective comments are good and can be used in fact to generate numbers!
Here is an explanation of the numbers and what they can mean to you.
It is well known that 5 players will have 5, or more, different “comments”, so having numbers provide a database, or history, of what works for what player style. With that information, a new client can be playing with their “perfect” racquet is a very short time instead of trying a zillion different models.
This is important because players may not be using the best racquet for them because they rely on assumptions instead of numbers! The very worst assumption is “I need a light racquet because I am just getting back in the game”. The second worst assumption is “I need a big head with a big sweet spot because I am not very good”. The third worst assumption is “I don’t need very good string because I am not very good”.
Bogus assumptions, every one of them!
As we look over our client data some things are clear and should become performance metrics;
- Total weight should be not less than 10.5 ounces (300 grams).
- Swing weight should not be less than 10.5 ounces (300 grams).
- Torsional stability should not be less than 15 units (typically grams).
With these metrics, you are off to a great start with a new racquet, or if you are beginning a new racquet search these numbers will be helpful.