Stringing for Indoor Racquet Sports
Boost your business by stringing for badminton, racquetball and squash players.
By Mark Gonzalez and Bob Patterson
We all would like more business. Who wouldn’t? Yet, we frequently hear from racquet stringers who turn down business because they don’t want to string anything but tennis racquets. Granted, badminton racquets can be a bit daunting with their thin strings and dense patterns, and racquetball racquets can be downright frustrating with exotic patterns.
But before you turn that business away, take a deep breath and rethink it.
You have the skills and most, if not all, of the equipment needed to add another revenue stream. With some additional tools (many stringers won’t need any) and a little patience, you can become a true racquet service professional that can string any racquet. The first step is to not be intimidated.
Some stringers charge a higher labor fee for badminton and racquetball stringing simply because they take a little more time. With a little practice, you will find that your times are not that much different than stringing a tennis racquet, but if you feel a higher rate is justified, then by all means go for it. Just don’t turn business away!
For badminton, first make sure your machine can accommodate the smaller head size and thin profile of the frame. Most modern machines can, although you may need to change out mounting billiards or use adapters. These are included with many machines while others may offer them for an additional cost.
A valuable accessory to have on hand is an “H” adaptor or load spreader. This little device helps protect the fragile, thin frames by reducing stress at the 12 o’clock position, especially at higher tensions. Although you can often get by using your machine’s tennis clamps, many come with extra clamps designed specifically for the dense patterns of badminton. If you have to buy clamps, most stringers find that the use of flying clamps works better and is faster.
Although the patterns are dense and the string thinner, with a little practice you’ll find that you can string a badminton racquet in about the same time as a tennis racquet. Badminton stringing requires only eight or nine more pulls than stringing an average tennis racquet. The biggest difference is that most badminton racquets have several shared holes. While this can be a little troublesome, with a little patience and practice you will be an expert in no time.
It seems that over the last decade or so, the designers of racquetball racquets have been in some sort of competition to see who can design the most convoluted, confusing patterns for their racquets. At least that is the way it seems to those of us stringing these racquets.
In reality, they are all seeking one thing: more power. Longer strings equal more power and the designers are trying to achieve this within the confines of the legal size of the frame. The results are string patterns that are anything but conventional.
In our instructions in the Stringer’s Digest, we try to take a step-by-step approach to relieve some of the intimidation, but it can still be overwhelming to even an experienced stringer. The key to success is slowing down and carefully reading and understanding the instructions. Once you have strung a pattern a couple of times you will find that it gets easier.
It is important to remember to alternate between the right and left sides. This is easily overlooked when you are trying to figure out what goes where.
When stringing racquetball frames some general considerations apply to almost all:
- Make sure your machine can accommodate the frame or you have the proper adapters to securely mount the frame.
- A turntable brake will be required for many racquetball frames.
- If your machine doesn’t have swivel clamps, you will need flying clamps to accommodate fan string patterns.
- Many frames have narrow throats and the mains are very close. The 6 o’clock mounting point can prevent access to the grommets. Pre-weave the first four mains in these cases.
- Some machines have limited range that will make clamping the top cross impossible. In these cases use a flying clamp.
We have highlighted some additional specific tips for the most popular brands and patterns here:
E-Force utilizes Richter tubes that run through the handle and then back up through the handle. Tension is pulled only from the head so you will be pulling two mains at once. Tubes and frames are color-coded to make it easier to determine the pattern. Some tips:
- Make sure the Richter tubes in the handle are attached, unobstructed and undamaged before you start.
- Mount the frame with the proper orientation: Red tubes on top and Green on the bottom.
- Make sure tubes are properly divided to right and left sides at the 6 o’clock mounting point.
Head Integrated Grommet System (top and middle) has holes on the inside of the frame but does not go all the way through. As you feed the string into a hole it will come out of an adjacent hole. To tension these strings, tension is pulled before feeding the string into the hole either under or over the frame, whichever has the least resistance. Some tips:
- Two-piece stringing recommended. Crosses must be started on the proper side.
- Crosses need to be strung with the turntable brake activated.
- Clamp short of the frame to allow room for the string to then be inserted into the hole after tension is pulled and string clamped.
Head Power Channels
These racquets (bottom) feature two Power Channel grommets on each side of the frame at the throat. These grommets hold four strings each stacked vertically. It is important to follow the digest instructions on the proper placement of these mains. Basically you will install strings top to bottom on one side and bottom to top on the opposite side. Remember to alternate from side to side. Cross strings feature the IGS system so refer to the tips above.
Squash racquets are surely the easiest of the indoor sports to string. You should not need any special tools. Just stock a variety of squash strings. Some thinner tennis strings are often used, but you will want to buy squash sets for those you don’t have reels for, since most squash frames usually require much less string.
Tips for Shared Holes
- Use a waxed awl to lubricate and enlarge shared grommets before you begin stringing.
- Taper the string tip and wax the tip if needed.
- When inserting a string into a shared hole, gently nudge the main string with the straight awl to shift the string occupying the grommet so the second string can fit through.
- Insert the string from an angle either from the top or bottom depending on the exit from the previous grommet. Avoid crossovers.
- Always lock the turntable and use extreme caution when using an awl in an occupied grommet.
The Yonex Loop
This method is standard for Yonex frames but can be used on almost all badminton frames to reduce outside frame stress and locate the last main closer to the tie-off hole for a cleaner look and less blocked holes.
On a 22 main pattern, install the first 9 mains as normal. Go from the ninth main to the 11th main and then back to the 10th main.
See all articles by Bob Patterson
About the Author
Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Special Projects Manager for Tennis Industry magazine.