Choosing a racquet stringer
How can you judge the competence of a racquet stringer? If it’s your first visit, a good stringer should ask you several questions. A few of the more obvious ones include:
- What’s your playing level and style?
- What surface do you play on?
- Do you play mostly singles or doubles?
- How often do you break a string?
- Do you have any arm problems?
- Are you satisfied with your racquet?
- Are you looking for either more power or more control?
A good stringer will try to fit your equipment choices (racquet model, weight, and balance; and string model, thickness, and tension) with your playing style and physique.
Also, your stringer might recommend replacing the grommet strip and bumperguard to keep your frame in good repair and your strings intact. He can show you the worn grommets and the chipped or worn bumperguard. Don’t resist this replacement. It’s a normal part of servicing your racquet (like replacing the tires on your car) and it’ll add years to the frame’s longevity and maximize the longevity of your strings.
You should pose a few questions of your own:
- How often does he check the accuracy of his/her machine? This should be done every 25-30 string jobs — at least!
- Does he have any credentials from the USRSA? (Is he an Master Racquet Technician, Certified Stringer or USRSA member?) Each USRSA member has a membership certificate indicating how long he has been part of our organization. You can check this by contacting us.
- What string and tension (and perhaps racquet) would he recommend for you and why? These should be based on his understanding of your needs (playability, comfort, durability, power, etc.)
- Does he have some way to measure tension loss in your strings? Your strings are your racquet’s engine. Once they’ve lost 25-30% of their original tension, you should have them replaced — even if they’re not broken. They've lost their zip and much of their performance. At the very least, restring your racquet twice a year.
Once you get your racquet back after restringing, make sure there are no missed weaves in the string face, and no strings crossed over outside the frame at the top (sometimes this is unavoidable at the bottom). Also, make sure your frame was not deformed or cracked by the stringing process. If it was warped or cracked before stringing, your stringer should have called it to your attention.
The right stringer is truly a racquet technician. he can help maximize your on-court performance, extend the life of your racquet and strings and help mitigate arm and shoulder problems by making the right equipment recommendations and servicing your equipment properly. Your stringer is your silent partner on the court. It behooves you to seek out a competent stringing professional.