Restringing a Tennis Racket
Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually or in teams. Each player has a tennis racket strung with a cord which they use to strike the ball. The racket is the pivotal part of the game.
Over time, rackets have also evolved. Initially made up of wooden frames, they were converted to metallic ones via innovations and advancements in technology for better grip and shot. The natural gut string was changed for synthetic strings.
A good racket adds to the credibility of the player, enhancing their game. In the past, many of the best performances have been attributed to the players, but it’s also important to consider the role of racket.
One thing notable here is the quality of the racket is defined by the string used. The right string can maintain the tension for a longer time and allow a more controlled shot. With time, tennis strings wear out and should be changed the moment they start losing tension.
The more you play, the string will lose its playability, i.e., control, feel and play, which will make restringing necessary.
Factors to keep in mind when restringing
There are certain factors to keep in mind when considering replacing or restringing the strings:
- Duration of play: as a rule of thumb, more playing means more restringing.
- Type of play: players using a Western grip need to restring more often than those who play with an Eastern grip.
- Level of play: as stringing maintains consistency, it is a necessity for higher-level competitions, meaning more advanced players will need to restring more
- Budget: for those who are low on budget, it’s advised to select cheaper, more affordable strings. Those on a higher budget can buy the top-quality strings for better playability
- Comfort: some players continue playing with frayed and notched strings, which are irritating and annoying to other players. Dead strings also lead to arm injuries as more pressure is put on the arms. Hence, comfort also serves as a major factor when considering replacing the strings.
- Personalpreference: some players will be more concerned about string tension and consistency, while others simply ignore these. It all boils down to taste and preference.
Indicators to Restringing
The players will know when the racket needs to be restrung, but some factors will indicate the necessity of restringing.
Visual Indicators to Change Strings
Notching: when the racket contacts the ball, the strings rub together, producing friction. This friction causes the strings to notch.
Grooves form where the main and cross string cuts and are more evident in the upper-middle of the racket, which is the area that gets contacted with the ball the most. When the racket strings start notching, it’s time to restring the racket.
The sooner the old strings are replaced with new ones, and the racket will help improve performance and play
Fraying: This is another common visual indicator that the racket needs to be restrung.
The strings are made up of tiny fibers that are intertwined together to give them the required strength to control and hit the ball.
Brand-new strings have a coating on them that wears out with time, meaning that the fibers start to fray. It is not necessarily something to worry about, as it is part of the play.
The more tennis is played, the fiber will come in contact with humidity and moisture, which then becomes the reason for the fray. The most crucial step is to restring the racket before the fray reduces the gauges of the string to a point where it breaks.
Non-Visual Indicators to Change Strings
New players might not detect the non-visual indicators and might not feel the subtle changes in the string.
But as soon as players start developing a hold over the game and bond with the racket, no change will go unnoticed.
When the strings lose tension, they will make the ball spend more time on the bed, which ultimately will affect the player’s control and performance. A player will have to invest more energy as compared to playing with strings in high tension.
It can result in making errors, or the ball just might not be placed properly on the racket.
Especially when polyester strings lose tension, there is a reduction in snapback of the strings, which makes the player swing harder to generate the same amount of topspin as it happened with the fresh string racket.
To hit the ball with less spin, it makes it necessary to restring the racket.
How often should I restring a tennis racket?
The simplest answer to this question is directly proportional to the time playing with the racket.
For more understanding of both the new and old players, it is really important to consider the following rules:
Rule of Thumb
The general rule of thumb when it comes to restringing is that the racket should be restrung per year, the number of times played in a week.
So, if a player is playing five times a week, then the racket should be restrung five times a year. Even if the strings seem fine, they still need to be changed, because although not directly visible, the strings lose tension after some time of playing.
Restringing is important for both professional and recreational players. Recreationalists might ignore the worn strings, but professionals have to take care of it.
Aggressive players who strike the balls faster and harder need to keep analyzing their rackets and need not follow a regimented restringing calendar.
At times, the racket would visually look fine but will not allow the player to perform well. But most of the time, the strings will visibly wear out. So, these are some things to keep in mind when getting the rackets restrung.
If the racket has polyester strings, the racket must be restrung immediately when the string breaks.
Generally speaking, polyester strings are a bit tricky to break, but at the same time, if tennis is continuously played, then they may wear down unevenly.
The uneven breakdown creates dead spots on the racket, which can cause errors in the performance. When it comes to polyester strings, the coaches recommend getting them changed after a few months to ensure good playability.
Restringing in the Contemporary Era
In the modern game of tennis, many people refute the rule of thumb for restricting tennis rackets. People have divided the restringing into various categories in accordance with the play and performance:
- Beginners: for a novice in the game of tennis, the restringing of the racket is just required every three months. Beginners probably play once a month, and getting the restringing done four times a year is fine for them.
Restringing the tennis racket every three months will keep the tension high for a good learning experience.
- Intermediate: This level includes all the players who have been playing for several months.
At this level, the player takes tennis quite seriously and then tends to play several times a month. Such players are recommended to restring their tennis racket once a month. A lack of maintenance of the strings will result in inconsistent performance.
- Advanced: these players frequently play, between four to seven times a week. These players are either playing full-time matches, tournaments, or performing drills.
The rule of thumb for such players is to get the restringing done when the racket string breaks. If practicing so frequently, the chances of string breakage will increase. Professional and advanced level players must have a fresh string racket each time before a tournament.
Cost of Restringing
The cost of the stringdepends on the type of string that’s used, the brand, and the number of strings.
Restringing can be done by the player themselves if they have expertise in that area, or else it can be done by an expert. The expert will charge the labor cost as well, taking the total up to anywhere between $15 to $65 for restringing the racket.
An inexpensive synthetic gut will cost about $5, while a high-end natural gut will cost $45 or above. Some players intend to buy a bulk of strings because they need to change them frequently, whereas others buy sporadically when there is an urgent need.
If providing the string, it will cost an amount between $10 to $20. Sometimes, the expert also charges more money due to their advanced expertise in the field.
If buying string from them, the total cost of the labor will include the cost of the string. It is recommended to buy a string beforehand because it is not always necessary that the seller provides the string.
There are several re-stringers in the market. Some are trained, while others perform it casually.
Always go to the one you trust most and the one who can provide you with a consistent string job each time you get the string changed.
Material and method of restringing
Tennis strings quickly lose their tension. When the tension in the strings diminishes, the racket will hinder the performance, no matter how well-trained the player is.
Two things need to be considered here: first, the material used for restringing and the method through which the whole process takes place.
Strings are made up of a variety of materials. Each string material has its properties and characteristics. One has to see the following elementswhen choosing a string:
- Dynamic Stiffness
- Tension Retention
- Rebound Efficiency
- String texture
The types of strings are discussed below:
- Natural gut: these are made up of the cow intestine and are best known for their tension maintenance and resilience. They rarely break and last longer compared to others.
- Synthetic gut: these strings are affordable and offer very moderate tension coverage. Using nylon string means the racket will require restringing frequently.
- Multifilament: this is a form of nylon string. They are available at a reasonable price. Multifilament is a perfect replacement for natural gut strings, and they do a great job with tension resistance as well.
- Polyester tennis strings: these are the most commonly used strings now. Their popularity is due to their low power and high spin potential. They do not break easily but lose tension after some time, which will require the racket to be restrung now and then.
- Kevlar strings: these are durable, as well as do a great job in maintaining string tension. These strings have a rough texture. And, due to their uncomfortable feelings, these strings are not common among tennis players.
In conclusion, many consider restricting tennis rackets as a personal choice, while others take it as a professional requirement. It also depends on the play rate and the performance.
There are always two things to keep in mind before restringing a tennis racket: first is the tension loss, and the other is string performance.
So, there is no exact scientific formula to indicate when is the optimal moment to restring a tennis racket or how often it should be restrung. Some measures can be followed, but ultimately, it’s down to personal choice.