Racquet Tech: Following Directions
More new racquets require cross strings be installed in a certain direction, which requires attention to detail and a bit of planning.
For most of our readers, directional requirements for installing cross strings may be a new concept, but it actually goes back to the days of wooden frames. Most wood racquets had a telltale zigzag at the top edge that was an indicator of what side the short side should be on, or where your crosses should start if doing a two-piece job. At least now, most of the manufacturers place graphics on the frames indicating the short side and placement of the starting knot, although some are very subtle and require a search to find them.
If you use the USRSA Stringer’s Digest for instructions, we try to point out when directional stringing is required and provide specific directions for each model, so look at all the notes before starting. They will help you get the most out of your string and racquet.
Why Directional Stringing?
With some frames, it is easy to see why directional stringing is necessary. The Prince O-Port frames are the best example. If you start the crosses on the wrong side, you will quickly find that you simply can’t continue, as the O-Ports just don’t line up.
Other racquets may not be so obvious, unless you know what to look for. The new Force series from Dunlop and the Pacific X Tour Pro 97 have recessed grooves to accommodate the loop on the outside of the frame, protecting it from scrapes on the court. If you install the crosses in the wrong direction, they not only lose the protection of this recess, but they are actually raised and even more exposed to court abrasion.
The subtlest of the current racquets using directional stringing are the newer Babolat frames. While the Pure Aero line also has recesses, the Pure Drive line doesn’t, but it still requires directional stringing to line up with the woofer system in the grommet strip.
Some frames are clearly marked, with labels indicating “Short-Side” and/or “Start Knot.” But not all are, and some markings are very subtle, with labels so small that it is hard to see even when you are looking for them. Some are marked on both the frame and the grommet strip, which makes it easier. If you replace the grommet strip, be sure you have the grommet oriented correctly; otherwise the frame labels will now be incorrect. Some racquets are only marked on the grommet strip, so you can install them normally as the strip dictates direction, but they may be harder to find in the first place.
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 Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.
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