So, spit it up, how long does it take you to string a racket? When you have been to a gym for a while, you’d probably recognise that moment that a semi professional bodybuilder that you know asks you: “So how much do you bench?”… It seems the multimillion dollar question as if by measuring the output of this one exercise, everybody knows how fit you exactly are. It seems a bit one sided, but every sport or business has a big benchmark like this.
In the stringing business, the multimillion dollar question of course the time it takes you to string a racket. It’s not that stringing a racket fast, makes you a good stringer but rather it takes a good stringer to string a racket in a decent time. In fact, if you’re going to make work of getting a certification from an association, like ERSA for example, part of your examination will be to string a racket in a specified amount of time, while still maintaining the quality level that they demand.
On average, most people should be able to string a tennis racket in about 30 minutes while maintaining complete focus and still paying attention to detail, 30 minutes to string a squash racket and 45 minutes to string a badminton racket. We found these average numbers by our own stringing experience and teaching others. In addition, I would like to mention that are probably stringers who claim that they can string significantly faster, however, we found that in practice speedy stringing jobs normally correlate with sloppy stringing and will result in more friction burn or crossover mistakes at the outside of the frame and grommets.
Of course, with practice you can definitely increase your stringing speed while still maintaining an overall level of quality. Of course, by speeding up your stringing you might risk some common pitfalls but we will discuss these and how to prevent them in an another post. There are definitely some points to look at when thinking of increasing your stringing speed. I’ll discuss them here.
What is the fastest time to string a racket
Allright, so first of all, what about the pro’s? Surely working at the big tours will make you work a bit faster, right? Of course! In this article by CNBC they took a quick tour behind the scenes at the 2015 US Open and got the answer: pro tour stringers will string a racket in about 15 minutes. That’s pretty fast! Stringing itself takes about 11 minutes, they claim, but everything together another 4 minutes or so. Take a look at this great Wimbledon video of a couple of years ago with some official tournament times.
However, there is a vibrant community of unofficial record holders and if you check this video by Tennis Warehouse you can see that it’s possible to string even faster.
So, how about badminton? Surely, badminton can’t be strung this fast, right? Well, not that fast but still… really fast. Check out this crazy video by Walter Mak.
We couldn’t find a good video for really fast squash stringing, but in general squash frames are strung faster than tennis or badminton rackets so you can do the math…
How to string a racket faster
First of all, make sure you have serviced your machine properly. This may seem a bit obvious but especially on cheaper machines this tip can save you a lot of time. Especially make sure that the clamp rails are thoroughly cleaned because having a smooth clamp base motion will free up a lot of time (and make stringing quite a bit more pleasant). Also, make sure your clamps are cleaned regularly and that your tensioning mechanism is on the proper pulling speed. Sometimes the pulling speed is set to knot, which makes it extra safe while pulling a knot but takes a lot of time.
Second, try to handle your string properly right from the start. That means preventing your string from ‘uncoiling’. Of course, being packed for so long and in such way, the string wants to jump out right away. A quick tip to prevent is just to take the set of string in your right hand and then uncoil it with care with your left hand. Then, uncoil only so far that you need to start stringing your mains and get a elastic band and put it around the remaining coil. This way, you can pick up uncoiling when you need more string for the remaining mains. Believe me, this is definitely something you want to get the hang of because trying to unclutter your strings in front of your customers looks quite unprofessional anyway.
Third, sure that you weave your crosses with enough string per weave. I still see a lot of people who start weaving their crosses right away which means they have to pull with a lot of friction. If you free up some extra string while just crossing to the next weave, this way you safe up some extra time.
Fourth, please make sure to straighten up your crosses while weaving and clamping because the crosses while have a natural tendency to bend in an curved shape as you string along. This means at the end of your stringing you’l have to correct that and it will take a bit more time if you have to do it all at once. In addition, by doing it while stringing you will actually reduce friction burn and create a slightly stiffer stringbed. You can even do this better by weaving to or 2 crosses after you’re last and then tensioning the first. This way the string is not able to curve as much.
Fifth, entering the final phase of stringing your crosses you want to check your remaining string length. Just put them across the frame while keeping track of the necessary length and then make one final measurement to your tension head gripper. You’ll almost certainly find that you still have quite some remaining string after that. So, cut it of! What’s the point of weaving that if you are not going to use it. This also reduces friction burn. A quick tip here, make sure you cut of the proper length so you might want to measure at least twice, just to be sure. If you cut of too short, there really is no time saving in starting all over again, huh? So please make sure you got it correct.
Do not focus on speed, focus on quality
The real question here is of course how you can optimize your stringing speed. There always be some differences in stringing techniques and also in customer preferences, so if you’re working in your shop, forget record setting speed. Just focus on what you are doing and why, and try to become better at it every single time. Most importantly, you are stringing for a customer and therefore need to be laser focused on reducing friction burn and correct tie offs. Also, stringing consistent is more importantly in my opinion than stringing fast. Customers demand reliability, they don’t expect a racket back in 6 minutes.
However, by keeping an eye open for new techniques you can definitely shave off some valuable time. Therefore I can definitely recommend watching some more videos on YouTube to get an idea of different stringing techniques.