A tennis racquet without strings is like McEnroe without his attitude or Andy Murray smiling – it just doesn’t make sense!
Any artist or sportsperson knows how important it is to take good care of their equipment. Ensuring that your tennis racquet is properly maintained and restrung when it needs to be will help to prolong the life of the product and could improve the quality of your game. Knowing when to replace the strings on a racquet is essential.
Replacing them too often is costly and wasteful but playing with a racquet that is suffering from stretched, damaged or frayed strings will seriously affect how you play and will also provide a far less enjoyable experience overall.
If you play tennis, recreationally or professionally you’ll know strings can break often which means regular trips to the shop to have the strings replaced. It works out to be costly and an inconvenience, which is why we’ve decided to do a step-by-step guide to show you how to string a tennis racquet.
Learning to string your own racquet will save you time, money and the frustration of waiting for it to be done. In the beginning doing it yourself might seem time-consuming, buying the stringing machine will feel like an unnecessary expense and the first few times is going to prove to be very frustrating.
As far as the cost of a stringing machine goes you can find a few models at good prices and if you work out how much you spend on getting it fixed elsewhere in relation to the price of your own stringing machine, you’ll see you’re saving money in the long run. With regards to the frustration and it being time-consuming: well, that’ll soon be a thing of the past because once you get the hang of it you will be able to do it yourself in about 30 minutes.
There are a few people who say you can string it by hand, as in without the machine. However, we recommend that you don’t as the stringing machine is what gets the tension right.
1. Remove the old strings from your racquet by cutting them. Attach the racquet to the stringing machine, making sure it’s secure. Different models have different mechanisms to secure your racquet so check how yours works.
2. The part on the bottom left of your racquet is where you set the tension. You want to set it between 52 and 65 lbs.
3. Take the new string out of its packaging and cut two equal lengths. This part is a little finicky because it’s long and curly.
4. Start by stringing the mains first. These are the strings that run from the handle to the top of the racquet. We suggest you start at the middle, by the handle.
5. Take one piece of the string and put each end through one of the two holes in the middle of the racquet, and then through the holes that correspond at the top. When you pull both ends of string all the way through make sure they’re equal in length.
6. Now clamp the string near the handle. Put the string in the top part and crank it until you hear a click. Put the other clamp at the top and make sure you don’t lose any of the tension.
7. Once you’ve done this, release the spring and take the string out of the crank. Carry on feeding the string through the holes, making sure it’s in one direction. While applying tension with the crank move the clamp behind it, keeping the string tight.
8. When you reach the end find the hole that’s big enough for the string to be fed through twice. Thread it through and tie a knot. Tie a second knot and cut off the extra string.
9. When you’ve tied the strings both ends they should be straight and tight.
10. You’re ready to do the crosses. Take the other piece of string, find the hole at the top that’s labeled ‘knot’. This is where you’ll start your crosses with a knot.
11. Feed the string through the topmost hole, weaving it through the mains. When you get to the other side make sure to tighten it.
12. Carry on weaving from one side to the other, making sure the string goes over and under.
13. At the bottom of the racquet, there is a hole labeled ‘tie off’.
14. Thread the string through and tie the knot, again the same way as you did the mains.
15. When you’ve tied the last knot, cut off the string and do one last check to make sure they’re tight and straight, you’re good to go. Lastly, remember to remove the racquet from the stringing machine.
Tennis racquets are designed to provide the best comfort and performance for players but their strings begin to lose elasticity as soon as they are applied to the frame. For example, a racquet that is strung at 60 pounds will rapidly lose tension so that it measures around ten pounds less within a day. This won’t matter too much to occasional players but it can make a real difference to those who are professional or semi-professional.
Professionals should be restringing their racquets every time they play a match, but most people will not need to do this. Depending on how frequently you play, the nature of your playing style and the cost of the racquet, you can expect to need to restring between every 4 sessions to every ten years. This is obviously a very wide range and your individual needs will vary depending on whether you are a regular or occasional player. A general rule that is popular among many amateur players is that you should try to restring as many times a year as you play in one week. So to clarify, if you play 3 times per week, you may want to restring 3 times a year. This is not the case for everyone, though and how often you need to do this will differ from person to person.
Other than trying to keep track of when you last changed the strings on your tennis racquet, there are three key things to aware of when considering restringing. Firstly, look at the condition of the strings themselves. If they still look taut and smooth, the chances are you won’t need to do anything. If they appear to be sagging, frayed or in danger of splitting, this is a clear indicator you need a change. Secondly, pay attention to the sound the strings make when you hit a tennis ball. If you don’t get the usual popping sound and something seems different, this can be a telltale sign that you need new strings. Finally, be mindful of how it feels to hit the ball when using your current racquet. If you notice a lack of bounce or a sense that the strings aren’t as firm as they should be, this is a clear red flag that tells you to take action.
Depending on how often you play, your playing style and your individual needs, how often you will need to restring your tennis racquet will vary. Look for signs of wear, feel for any lack of tightness or spring and also listen for differences in the sound when you connect with a ball. If you consider all of these things, you should be able to work out how frequently you need to change your strings so you can get the most out of playing tennis.