When it comes to stringing a tennis racquet, it's important to follow the proper steps to ensure optimal performance and playability.
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Receive expert guidance on racquet stringing from none other than Richard Parnell, a distinguished Grand Master Stringer. With an illustrious career spanning three decades, Parnell has lent his stringing expertise to the ATP and WTA Tours for 30 years, graced Wimbledon for 20 years, and contributed his skills to major tournaments like the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Such is his mastery that a knot has even been named in his honor.
BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING, MAKE A FEW CHECKS.
Parnell advises, "Prior to commencing any actions, verify the condition of the racquet, inspect the string pattern, and determine the intended tension. It's crucial to manually thread the string through your fingers to ensure its smoothness, particularly when dealing with natural gut, a material of particular sensitivity.
It is wiser to address these factors beforehand rather than encountering complications midway through the restringing process, which would lead to a considerable loss of time. By running the string through your hands, you'll be able to detect any flaws and decide if obtaining an additional piece of gut is necessary."
MOUNT THE RACQUET ON THE MACHINE.
"Begin by inserting the racquet's throat first, as this will aid in locating the center more readily. Secure the supports around the throat area before attending to the ones at the racquet's end. Ensure that the lateral supports are fixed firmly, while those situated at each end should be positioned snugly against the frame. The rationale behind this arrangement is that as we proceed to install the main strings, there will be a certain degree of compression. Subsequently, when the cross strings are added, the racquet will regain its original shape."
ADJUST THE SPEED OF THE TENSION MACHINE.
"When working with a monofilament string, I opt for a higher machine speed. However, when dealing with a natural gut string, I make sure to lower the speed. This adjustment is essential to safeguard the integrity of the string and prevent any potential damage."
IF YOU’RE USING NATURAL GUT, LET IT TWIST THE WAY IT WANTS TO GO.
"Working with natural gut is often perceived as challenging when it comes to stringing. However, mastering its handling is a matter of understanding its characteristics. Allowing the string to naturally twist in the direction it desires is key to achieving a satisfactory outcome. By allowing the gut to take its preferred path and following its natural movement, rather than imposing your own, you'll achieve significantly superior results."
START BY STRINGING THE MAINS.
"You can put the first two mains in quickly. Thread the string through two holes at one end and then through two at the other end, so from the throat to the head. Once you’ve done that, hold the two ends together so you know it's even on either side. Put both strings into the tension head so you can place the clamp where it needs to do.
Make sure the clamp is adjusted to the gauge of the string, and that it grips it and doesn't crush it. If the string were to slip through when you tension it, it doesn't move because of the clamp. Now take that off and do it on the other string. Again, have the clamp in place as a back-up.”
YOU'RE ONLY EVER DOING THREE STRINGS AT A TIME ON EITHER SIDE OF THE FIRST TWO MAINS YOU HAVE DONE.
"Ensure that the frame is as straight as possible so that the string is as short as possible. Do three mains on the side to 'catch up' and then another three. You're also trying to make the tension head bite as soon as possible so you get a higher string bed stiffness, so it starts pulling straight away and that it's tensioning a shorter piece of string."
HOLD THE GROMMET STRIP IN.
"That's very important as it prevents damage to the racquet and the string. A lot of frames have grommets that are flared that stop them from moving out. But if you get used to holding the grommets in, it will become a habit and you won't have to think about doing it. That will become part of your technique.”
NEXT DO THREE STRINGS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE THREE YOU HAVE JUST DONE.
"After that, you're doing them one by one so that the deformation of the racquet is as symmetrical as possible."
USE THE PARNELL KNOT.
"Prior to securing the main strings, apply an additional 20 percent tension to ensure the final strings are maximally taut. Proceed to fasten one end of the main string using the Parnell Knot. This knot is remarkably straightforward to tie, boasts a compact structure, and serves to safeguard the anchor string. It ranks among the two most frequently employed knots in professional stringing and holds the distinction of being one of the official knots for Wimbledon as well.
Initiate the process by locking the turntable to prevent movement. Execute a half hitch, leaving a small loop, and then proceed with another half hitch threaded through the loop. Utilize the starting clamp to elevate tension, ensuring the string along the outer frame is equally taut.
When concluding this step, release the clamp base first followed by the clamp itself. Trim the knot's excess length using clippers. Should you be utilizing a monofilament string, employ the clippers' backside to flatten the knot, thus averting any potential finger discomfort.
While there is no need to flatten the end when dealing with natural gut, as it typically lacks sharp edges, ensure the knot's tag end remains straight along the string it's fastened to. Repeat the process to tie the last main string on the opposite side using the Parnell Knot, and once again, utilize the starting clamp to minimize tension loss."
NOW PUT THE CROSSES IN.
"Begin by determining whether you'll maintain the same tension as the mains for the cross strings. A strategic approach involves starting the cross stringing process from the third row down the top, progressing upwards. This sequence minimizes strain on the string. Choose any weaving technique that suits you for threading the crosses. No single method holds superiority; opt for the one that aligns with your comfort level.
I recommend acquainting yourself with two distinct weaving techniques, as each may prove more effective in varying circumstances. The selection of cross string weaving hinges on both the type of string being used and the specific racquet design."
WHEN YOU GET TO THE TOP CROSS, YOU HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE.
"You have the option to employ either a starting knot or a starting clamp for the cross strings. Opting for a clamp is advisable, as it ensures that the resulting knots will be Parnell Knots. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also reduces stress on the string.
Attach the starting clamp along the outer edge of the frame and use a Parnell pad to safeguard the grommet and bumper strip, especially when working with a new frame. This prevents any possibility of metal contact that could potentially leave marks. Proceed by applying tension to the first cross string."
EVERY STRING SHOULD BE AS STRAIGHT AS POSSIBLE.
"That will mean that you’ll have to make fewer adjustments at the end. That will keep a higher string bed stiffness and you'll end up with a much better result."
THE FINAL CROSS STRINGS, AT THE THROAT OF THE RACQUET, ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO WEAVE. AFTER PUTTING THE FINAL CROSS IN AT THE THROAT, TIE A PARNELL KNOTT.
“The tag end should be straight on the string it's tied to, which means if you're doing multiple racquets they are all going to look the same. On the ATP Tour, there are certain players who will throw a racquet back if the knots aren't done in the right way.
Also use a Parnell Knot at the other end, at the head of the racquet. And then tension it. Release the clamp base and then the clamp. Cut the end of the string.”
THE FINAL STEP IS STRAIGHTENING THE STRINGS.
"You might need to make some slight adjustments. But then you're good to go. You should be able to take the racquet out of the machine as easily as it went in. That’s an indication that the frame is still in the same shape as when it went in.
"YOU'VE DONE IT, YOU'VE STRUNG YOUR RACQUET. NOW GET ON COURT AND ENJOY PLAYING WITH IT.
FAQ'S ABOUT TENNIS RACQUET STRINGING:
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