Friday, March 07, 2014

Another new skill!

Over the last couple of years I've been thinking about learning how to string a tennis racket. Why? Well because it's interesting, at least it is to me! Perhaps I have an inquisitive nature or just some deep need to try new things.

Anyway, I bought myself a stringing machine around Christmas time and I finally got around to setting it up and having a go. The delay was mainly due to working out how to calibrate the tensioning system. There instructions are clear and I bought a tension checker when I got the machine. The only problem was that I wasn't sure the checker was accurate. The scales didn't seem to match (Pounds and Kilos) and I didn't know which one was wrong. Anyway, I got some fishing scales and compared the two, but this still didn't satisfy my scientific need for accuracy. I needed up weighing a large bag of cat litter using both devices and decided which scale I could trust.

With the machine set up, I took and old racket and set about stringing it. I've done three now and worked out a few useful tips. The most important one being to keep my fingers out of the way of the brake lever when tensioning the string! It locks out with quite a snap and if your finger is in the way it's both painful and messy when it hits the soft bit just below the nail (ouch!)

I haven't yet strung one of my playing rackets, but I will take the plunge at some point and do one now I'm okay with the process. The difficult bit is making sure you've got notes of where the main and cross strings start and finish. Quite how you do that when you buy an unstrung frame I don't know, maybe they come with instructions.

So why am I doing this? Is it just because it's interesting? Well yes and and no. Strings can have an impact on the way you play. The more tension they have the more control you have and the lower the tension the more power there is. Different strings have different playing characteristics, and it might be fun to explore different combinations to see what effect they have. And it's a nice thought that when a string breaks you can bring the racket home and restring it yourself. They say that you should restring your rackets as often in a year as you play in a week. At the moment that would mean restringing my rackets every 2-3 months! Three rackets at £12 a racket works out at £144 to £216 a year! Not that I do that, but if I did and if I did it myself I think it would work out at between £2 and £5 a racket. So quite a saving.

In reality, you get your racket restrung when you break a string, probably once every 6-8 months in my case. So I'm not saving a fortune, just learning a new skill and keeping the grey matter working. 

Speaking of which, I'm currently reading a book on biomechanics alongside finishing off "Bounce". I find the whole biomechanics thing really interesting, and when I've finished that book I have one on myofascial structures to read. I feel a trip to a coffee shop coming on!

No comments: