The natural inclination in any racket sport is to only change your strings once they have snapped. Squash players have been known to fall for this trap too. However, string tension is actually very important, even if you only have quite a cheap racket. So when is it best to change your squash racket strings?
For best performance you should have your racket restrung upon purchase with a good quality string. Following that, you should have it restringed again either when it starts to feel as though it has slackened, or at least twice per year.
There is more to squash racket restringing than meets the eye, and in this article I will look at the tell tale signs that it is time for a restring. We will also look at the options for that restring, and all the things to consider.
Resting A New Racket
For one, it really isn’t in your best interests to keep the strings that came with your racket when you bought it. Those are generic factory strings, manufactured en masse.
The specific needs of a squash player are not taken into consideration during mass production and that is perfectly understandable. That is how big business works.
However, if you want to hit the ground running, your first racket string change should probably come the moment you take that racket off the shelf.
Although it is not universal, you will often find that a shop selling squash rackets also has somebody qualified to restring them.
Take full advantage of the opportunity. It would also make sense to take some notes the first time you restring the racket. The idea will be to get a decent feel for the tension that best suits your needs.
Those needs are often determined by the brand of squash that you play.
Some players prefer to hit the rubber off the ball. Total aggression and power!
Other players prefer finesse, delicate touches and feel.
In tennis, a tighter string tension is often advised for beginner players.
The perception is that tighter strings allow for more power and more control. As it so happens, squash doesn’t really work like that.
In squash tighter string tension actually means less power but more control. Reduce the tension and you generate more power but less control. In general a squash racket works like a trampoline. The more give in the string, the more it rebounds back and imparts power.
That makes squash restringing a much more delicate business than other racket sports.
The restringing of a squash racket should really be handled by a more trained hand and more trained eyes. This does not only apply to those doing the restringing.
Squash players also need to be more aware of where and when to restring.
It helps you budget more accordingly and in the long term it will probably save you some money.
In general, you will probably start to feel when the tension of your racket has changed. The tension will decrease over time.
When your shots feel as though the ball is going deeper into the strings, and squashing into your racket more, then it is probably time for a restring. The more you leave it, the less control you will have in your shots.
In a game that rests so heavily on feel, having the right feel for when to restring your racket can be a game changer.
The Right Tension For Your Game
You will find that if you allow the experts to do your restringing, the tension will probably range between 24-30 lbs.
Realistically there is probably not much difference in this range. If you want power over control, then go closer to 24lbs. If you want accuracy over power, then go closer to 30lbs. Go somewhere in the middle if you are looking for a mix of the two.
Trial and error may be the only way to find out which you prefer. Many professionals specify an exact string tension, but that is because they have found one they like the feel of.
Racket frames are gentle little things, more gentle than people will care to realise. If you string your racket at much higher than 30lbs, you will be putting that racket frame under a considerable amount of pressure.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but tighter tensions also mean that your strings won’t last that long either, whether that be through wear and tear or simply by snapping.
The majority of strings are typically in the range between 24-28lbs. If you are a beginner or intermediate player or if you are a little unsure of what tension is best suited to your brand of squash, this is probably the range you should aim for…until you are clearer on what it is that you prefer.
There are those among you, who will prefer stringing rackets at lower than 24lbs. It is a touch unusual but by no means absolute madness. Sometimes, people just want to be on a squash court to take out some of their frustrations.
As was previously mentioned, looser strings are more conducive to genuine power hitting. The 22-24lbs range if just for you.
There is also the option to string the racket at 21lbs. While it is very uncommon among the ordinary players. If anything, it is the professionals and extremely skilled players who are most likely to got for this range.
Primarily because they are going for something very specific on the court. Seasoned campaigners like this normally know something that we generally don’t. It goes without saying that finesse will probably be totally erased from your game if you adopt this range as a beginner or intermediate player.
Try hitting a drop shot with that string tension and let us know how it goes.
More Expensive Options
Some players are a touch more serious and competitive than others, in almost every respect. If string performance matters to you that much, then it would be prudent to purchase the more expensive strings currently available on the market.
The two most prominent brands are Ashaway and Tecnifibre. The thing about high performance strings is that they are less likely to last longer than their cheaper counterparts too…for a couple of reasons.
Chief among them, perhaps, is the fact that you are likely to be competing more often and at a higher intensity than the casual squash player. If you are going to take this sport seriously, be prepared to spend a considerable amount to sustain the hobby.
There are obviously some among you, who are prepared to spend more on your hobby, regardless of your level. There is nothing wrong with that either.
The quality of strings that you purchase can sometimes be determined by the region you are in, especially for those who opt for the more mid-range options. Typically, most of those mid-range strings are synthetic-gut, a hybrid between gut and synthetic.
Choose A String That Suits The Racket
There is a popular opinion that the kind of racket you have does not have as significant an impact on your game as the choice of strings that you use on that racket.
However, the strings you ultimately do choose hinge heavily on the kind of frame that you have.
As we have already mentioned, power is reduced by tighter strings. Experts often talk about the trampoline effect on their rackets. So, the sentiment being that the more your strings stretch, the more power they tend to generate.
Longer racket frames will give you more power by default. That means there will be more flexibility for you to choose strings more conducive to generating control.
A similar case could be argued for those who have racket frames more likely to assist with control, allowing for a string selection that promotes more power.
Also many rackets come with a recommended string tension. You can find this on the frame of many rackets.
Can You Restring Your Own Racket?
There might come a time in your life, when you will consider taking it upon yourself to restring a racket.
As the world negotiates uncertain economic times, it might be prudent to take matters into your own hands. Truth be told a stringing machine does not need to cost that much.
Two of the key elements are securing the right equipment and coming to terms with the fundamentals of restringing.
It is somewhat like a puzzle, really. Once you get the first few pieces in place, the rest of the system tends to sort itself out. It can and probably will be much easier than restringing a tennis racket, for example.
Experts will tell you that about 30 feet of string should be sufficient to carry out this task. Depending on the racket you use, this could turn out to be a little more and perhaps even a little less.
Always operate in excess though. It is just common sense.
In general, as a beginner I would not bother with the investment of restringing rackets yourself.
However, as you get more involved in the game you may want to experiment with this. This could of course also become a sideline business for you, as other players will always be looking for a restringing service.
Thick V Thin Strings
There are very subtle differences between squash, tennis and badminton strings. Being off by a couple of gauges can can make a monumental difference on court though. Generally, squash strings come in a 17 or 18 gauge.
Tennis and racketball strings come in a 15 gauge, more often than not. Badminton strings come in a 20 gauge, more often than not. In the squash context, 17 gauge is the thicker string.
The experts will also tell you that thin strings offer better control. However, they are generally a little more expensive.
Thin strings will ‘cut’ into the ball more, offering more spin and control. However, because they thinner they are also more likely to snap quicker. Naturally, you are going to find yourself forking out more cash to fund your hobby/profession.
This is impacted even more if you use double yellow-spot balls, as these will snap strings more quickly than lighter and more bouncy balls.
Granted, professionals are more likely to have that cost taken care of by endorsement packages.
To the contrary, thicker strings offer less control but will last a lot longer.
In the end it will often come down to economics, and how much you want to invest.
Gut V Synthetic Strings
There is also the perception – well there is also compelling evidence to prove this – that strings made from pure gut allow for more control than synthetic strings.
Going with gut will also cost you a lot more than choosing the synthetic option. Again, it is a classic case of supply vs demand.
Synthetic strings tend to be everywhere and therefore cost less. If not chosen wisely they can also be poor in quality, so put some thought into that before doing a restring.
To ignore the technological developments in squash is to be left behind. Talent and hard work get you a long way in life. Let us be under no illusions about that. However, the harsh reality is that having the right equipment helps realise that potential.
Monofilament technology is among the most advanced in the squash string range. The strings are usually about 1.15mm thick for squash rackets. What makes the strings so special is that they have a textured surface, which grips the ball a lot better.
Multifilament nylon strings also have a highly textured surface, which allows for the ultimate ball control. The strings are generally resilient and highly durable. If you want string that perform well and last long at the same time, then these are for you.
You will probably find that most of the players who use these strings are either professionals or highly skilled amateur players.
In life, it is always good to explore your options fully. If you are very curious, you should be looking for strings with a high density braided wrapping. This particular brand of stringing facilitates maximum play ability.
The multifilament core increases elasticity and that core is ordinarily protected by an outer wrap.
You are once again in the company of a powerful set of strings that will last longer than most. It is exceedingly difficult to go wrong with these. If you are looking for a combination of power, durability and feel, then these strings are for you.
It would not harm you if you ran into a set of strings with a high modulus performance multifilament core for ultimate power and feel. Make sure it is wrapped in braided filament.
Make sure it has a low-friction coating on the surface, which enhances durability and play ability.
Squash can be a fun sport. It is good for your health and can help with your social development. The benefits of squash are endless, really.
Then there is the competitive element to it. What you will find though is that the more serious you become, the more cash you will have to splash. A considerable amount of that money will be spent on the purchase of racket strings.
It will probably also be prudent to purchase those racket strings in bulk. It is also not a bad idea to start learning about doing your own restringing.
The equipment does not cost that much and it could turn into a major saving if you stay at it for a long time. We live in an age when labor costs a pretty penny.
If you are not that serious about squash, we also suggest there is no need to spend money on the more durable string brands.