How long should a new set of strings last?

The following mainly applies to tennis but the same principles hold for the other racket sports.

The widely quoted rule of thumb is the number of times you play per week = the number of restrings you should have per year. Play once per week = 1 restring per year. Play twice per week = 2 restrings per year and so on.

This does not take into account whether you play singles or doubles, how many hours per week you play, how hard you hit the ball, how much spin you apply, string type or tension or gauge. It also depends what you mean by 'last'. Most players wait until the strings break before they get a restring but chances are that your strings are way past their best when they break. How often do you see the pros break their strings? Hardly ever, because they change rackets every 9 games or so. Strings continually lose tension until they lose elasticity and go 'dead'. You can still use the racket but you will have much reduced power, control and feeling.

I would adjust the rule of thumb to

1 hour of doubles per week = 1 restring per year.

2 hours of doubles per week = 2 restrings per year etc.

1 hour of singles per week = 2 restrings per year.

2 hours of singles per week = 3 restrings per year etc.

If you hit the ball hard with lots of spin add 1 extra restring per year.

Occasionally you will break the strings at or near the frame of the racket. This could be due to a damaged grommet resulting in the strings rubbing directly on the sharp edges of the frame. Another reason strings break near the frame is due to mis-hits i.e. off centre hits. This results in all the energy of the ball strike being concentrated in a few strings rather than shared by the whole string bed.

In terms of how long strings 'last' (with all else being equal) :

Kevlar / Aramid strings > Polyester strings > Synthetic gut / nylon > multi-filament > natural gut

thicker strings > thinner strings

Lower string tension > higher tension

How long does it take to string a racket?

From receiving a racket with broken strings to having the racket ready to hand back would take between 35 and 55 minutes depending upon the racket sport and the stringing pattern. That breaks down as 5 to 10 minutes of preparation time + 30 to 45 minutes to string the racket. Let's call it an hour maximum.

Prep time= 1. Check the frame. 2. Make notes about the stringing pattern, location of tie off knots, shared holes, blocked holes. 3. Cut the old strings out if present. 4. Work out the length of string needed for the mains and crosses then cut the required lengths. 5. Mount the frame on the machine.

30-45 minutes to string the racket depending on the type of racket and the stringing pattern. The average number of strings for each racket sport is: Badminton 22 mains + 22 crosses = 44, Tennis 16 mains + 19 crosses = 35, Squash 14 mains + 18 crosses = 32. Each string has to be tensioned and clamped separately. So on average badminton > tennis > squash in terms of time. Badminton rackets have shared holes and a higher string bed density both of which add extra time vs tennis and squash rackets.

What length of string do you need per racket?

On average, tennis = 12 metres, squash = 10 metres, badminton = 10 metres. The average racket has a split of 55% mains vs 45% crosses in terms of string length.

There is variation in the length of string needed depending upon the stringing pattern and the size of the racket head within each sport. Tennis has the biggest variation in head size from 95 square inches to 137 square inches. The Gamma RZR Bubba Tennis racket is 2 inches longer than a standard racket (29" vs 27") and has a head size of 137 square inches vs standard 100 square inches. In addition it has a 18 x 21 string pattern vs standard 16 x 19, meaning it requires around 15 metres of string. Unless you have a reel of string you would have to buy 2 sets of individual strings!!!!

How do you actually string the racket?

There are countless videos on YouTube showing you how to string rackets of all varieties. If you have the patience just watch a few. There are some good ones, some bad ones and some very bad ones.

1. Always start with the main strings. Always tension the 2 centre main strings first then alternate left and right until all the main strings are in place. Tie off at the correct grommets. 2. Start the cross strings at the correct grommet. If not indicated on the frame then check the manufacturer's stringing instructions. Most tennis and squash rackets are strung top to bottom. Most badminton rackets are strung bottom to top. There is much debate about the reasons why but just stick to what the manufacturer recommends or you might invalidate the warranty on the frame. Once all the cross strings are in place tie off at the correct grommet.

Each string is tensioned and clamped separately. This is because there is a large amount of friction between the main and cross strings and between the strings and the frame. A 16x19 pattern will require you to pull tension then clamp 35 times. You can't fit the strings with no tension then pull tension on one end as some people seem to think :))

One piece or two piece stringing? (two knots or four knots?)

Most modern rackets give you the option of stringing with one long piece of string for the mains and crosses or using two separate pieces of string. Two piece stringing requires four tie off locations. Some older racket frames only have two tie off locations so the only option is one piece stringing.

Why two piece stringing?

1) The racket manufacturer recommends this method as the cross strings need to be strung from top to bottom to reduce the risk of frame damage during restringing. If the main strings end at the bottom of the frame then you must use two piece stringing if you want to string the crosses top to bottom. There is a work around pattern called the 'All around the world' or ATW that means you can string one piece even if the main strings end at the bottom of the frame. I would only use this if a player requires one piece stringing.

2) If you want hybrid stringing = different types of strings in the mains and crosses e.g. polyester + synthetic gut.

3) You want different tensions in the main and cross strings.

4) You want different colours of string in the main and crosses.

Why one piece stringing?

1) It might be the only option available if your frame only has 2 tie off locations.

2) Some people prefer the neater look of only having 2 knots vs 4 knots.

3) There can be a very small loss of tension when you tie off the string so 2 knots will have less tension loss than 4 knots. This can be reduced/eliminated by adding extra tension on the tie-off string.

Can I use tensions outside of the recommended range?

In theory you should stick to the tension ranges that are printed on the racket frame or available from the manufacturer. In practice I have found there is no problem going 10% above the range or any amount below the range. The recommended range is there to get the best playability from the racket based on the frame design. Badminton rackets are most at risk from stringing above the recommended range as they are the most 'fragile' in their design. If you like high string tensions it is better to buy a frame that is designed to accommodate it. Stringing above the recommended range is at your own risk regarding damage to the frame during stringing or match play.

If you have any questions please email me on racketrestringing@outlook.com