Guide to Stringing Machines: Stringing It Up!
How do you increase your stringing business?
- Find the right machine for you.
- Re-educate your players on when to restring.
By Tim Strawn
Restringing. Here’s a subject that needs some serious rethinking. There’s an old axiom within our industry that says however many times you play in one week, you should string your racquet that many times each year. In my opinion, this is so outdated that the industry as a whole could benefit from a new approach.
With RSI’s annual Guide to Stringing Machines on the following pages, which lists dozens of models from 13 different manufacturers, now is a good time to consider your stringing business and how you can step it up. One major way — and probably the best way — to give your stringing machine even more of a workout is to educate players on when they need to restring. Here’s some food for thought.
Frequency of Play
Not every player plays the same amount of time each time they go to the court. I had a client who played twice a week, and he was blowing through a set of 15L nylon in four weeks. This is a string that typically is quite durable but, as it turns out, his twice a week was once on Wednesday for 1-1/2 hours and all day Saturday for eight hours, with a short break for lunch. In one day, he was playing nearly as much as the average player was playing in a month!
Strings Are Different
All strings are different, beginning with the basic construction all the way down to the materials used and the coatings applied. Some strings move more than others, for a variety of reasons, such as the coating, the string pattern of the racquet, the reference tension used to install the strings, and the way the player hits the ball. All of these factors need to be considered on an individual basis, not by some axiom that dictates a carte blanche policy. Another example is that strings will typically move more on a racquet with a more open pattern, like 16×19, than on one with a more closed pattern, such as an 18×20.
Players Hit the Ball Differently
String movement causes notching, which in turn can cause premature breakage. If your player has a flat stroke, the strings on the frame are going to move far less than a player that hits with severe topspin or slice. Likewise, some players knock the cover off the ball while others hit with finesse that can lull you and the ball to sleep. There’s going to be a huge difference in the life of the string depending on how a player strikes the ball.
Strings, with the exception of natural gut, are made of synthetic material. Most tennis racquets are strung between 40 and 70 pounds, which puts the string under tremendous stress. Leaving the racquet in a car or trunk in mid-August when the ambient temperature is high means the temperature in the car is going to be super hot. Records show that an outside temperature of 104 degrees was then measured in the trunk of a car, and the mercury reached 160 degrees. Strings are going to be screaming as they stretch at that temperature; a player may as well be prepared to cut them out and restring.
So where does this leave us? Do we still tell our clients to string as many times in a year as they play in a week?
My vote is a resounding “NO!” We need to take a different approach on this subject and look at players on an individual basis.
Consider this: I use a software package that records every piece of data imaginable when I service a racquet. It allows me to track time between restringing, program time frames for restringing for that player (180 days, etc.), and run daily reports that will send an email notification to the player when it’s time to restring based on the time frame I programmed in for them. This is all done by the player’s history and it usually takes about three to four times of restringing their racquet to nail the time frame down.
This is the 21st century. It’s time we start using the technology available to us, instead of relying on outdated axioms. Your players will appreciate your professional approach, and I’m betting you’ll see an increase in restringing revenue. Who wouldn’t like that?
USRSA Master Racquet Technician and tour stringer Tim Strawn owns and operates grandslamstringers.com and gssalliance.com and is the founder and owner of the GSS Symposium, set this year for Sept. 22-26 in Tampa. Contact him at Tim@gssalliance.com.