There are plenty of reasons you should restring your racket, other than the obvious, that you've broken a string.
In previous posts I've written about other stringing topics, such as types of string, how they can affect your game, climate and strings, the effect string has on tennis elbow, even string thickness and tension. All of these will help you when choosing your string, but none of them really address the reasons for restringing.
In an earlier article written by Tim Strawn of IART, Tim talks about an old guideline that is used as a recommendation for getting your racket restrung i.e, the number of times you play a week is the minimum number of times you should be getting your racket restrung per year. Tim gives plenty of excellent points as to why this guideline should no longer apply. The game has changed, as have the rackets and the string, and while I agree with what Tim has written I also appreciate that some people aren't playing tennis to try and become professionals, they are not even playing to try and be the best they can be. They are merely using tennis as a social activity, a reason to go out and meet their friends and get some exercise. They have absolutely no interest in how the racket is performing or how much better it would perform with regular stringing. So for that player, once they don't break a string they will never look to have their racket restrung and I am OK with that.
Like I mentioned earlier there are plenty of reasons to get your racket restrung and we will go through them now.
- Broken strings
- Factory strings
- Playing conditions
- Style of play
- Frequency of play
- Tension loss / Lifespan
Well this is a no brainer, if you break your strings you have to replace them. What we need to look at here is, are you breaking them regulary? If this is the case you will need to look at a few factors. Are you happy with the string you are using and accept regular breakages as part of the deal? If so, that's fine!
If not, you have options. Use a thicker gauge of the same string or change to a more "durable" string. These are all areas a good stringer will be able to discuss with you, while making the conversation relevant to you and your game.
If you are not getting the advice you feel you should be getting, then look for another stringer.
This is an area that historically has a bad reputation. In the past companies would use their cheapest string as a way of saving money.
Nowadays, particularly, with the performance rackets this isn't the case anymore. In some countries this isn't an issue as they sell their rackets unstrung. The customer can then choose their own string, and potentially pay extra for it.
Most of the pre-strung rackets now use a good quality string but there is are other issues with factory strung rackets, the quality of the stringing job and the tension the racket is strung at. I have worked in the racket retail trade a longtime and have come across some ridiculous stringing jobs, as I'm sure every other retailer has too. I have seen holes skipped, mis-weaves, even knots big enough to secure a cruise liner while docked.
The problem here seems to be, with a large volume of rackets to be strung, cost becomes an issue. Companies aren't going to hire or out source to the better stringers, (those who take pride in their work), instead they will give the job to the person who will do it for the lowest price. Generally this person is more concerned with quick turnover and this is where the 'factory stringing' problems come from.
Now to be clear, this isn't always the case. There are plenty of new rackets strung with very good string, by very good stringers but unfortunately because of the reputation factory stringing has, the general consensus is that factory stringing is crap.
The issue with tension, even if the company have used a very good string, is that they generally string the rackets at midway in the recommended range. This is to give you a guage to work from for your next restring. You can go up for more control, or down for more power. The initial problem can be that you just can't play with the tension that is in the frame.
This includes the surface, the climate, the ball and the venue (indoor/outdoor). All these factors effect your game in different ways, but all can be enhanced by choosing the right string and tension.
I have written about these factors in previous posts so what we are addressing now is that you should consider changing your string and/or tension when moving from one condition to another.
Now some of you are probably thinking this is all a bit too advanced for the level I play at, and is it really going to affect my game that much?
Well there's a few answers to that question, the first being yes, it will help your game. Stringing your racket to the suit the playing conditions enables you to keep control of the ball. It can also ensure your power level doesn't drop, all depending on how you get your racket strung.
The next answer to that question, would be in the form of a question, why pay a lot of money for your racket if your are going to let the performance level of it diminish over time. Changing your strings/tension to suit the playing conditions makes sense no matter what level you are playing at.
Style of Play:
One of the greatest things about tennis is the many different styles of play you see, from the most natural looking strokes to the OH my God, what is that? All these different styles have different effects on your strings.
The 'Spinner' will move the strings around a lot. Depending on the type of string they use they can break them regularly or find that they lose tension quickly.
The flat, power player can find as tension drops their level of control does too.
It's always good to try different strings and tensions as technologies change so often, there is bound to be a string to suit your style of play.
A good stringer will be up to date on these changes and will guide you along the way.
Frequency of Play:
This is one of the main factors to look at when talking about stringing. As mentioned by Tim Strawn, in his article, you also need to know what duration the person is playing for each time they play. The more you play, the quicker your racket will lose tension.
Peoples' expectations of how long strings last and perform at their optimum differs greatly, but the reality is the more you play, the more often you need to get your strings changed.
Tension loss starts to occur the minute you the tie the final knot. It does slow down after the initial loss but continues every time you play.
The type of string you choose also has a big bearing on tension loss. While polyester strings are more durable, they also lose tension at a quicker rate. So while you might choose polyester to save money, from regular breakages, you could end up needing to replace them as often to maintain their performance level.
Lifespan can be looked at in different ways. It can be a customers expectation of how long their string should last before breaking, it could be how long it will perform at its optimum level for or it can be that there is no guarantee with the lifespan of any string, durable or not. When dealing with your customers, stringers need to explain that while one string may be classed as a more durable string it is still prone to breakage at any time.
Part of your job as a stringer is to educate your customers on the various aspects of stringing, from the type of string, to tension, to why strings break and when you should consider replacing them.
As always I welcome your feedback and if I can be of any assistance to you, send me a mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your game!