I’m sure many keen squash fans will have received the squash racket of their dreams for Christmas, which is awesome. But, should you get it restrung immediately or should you continue top use the factory strings which come already in the racket?
Do you even know the benefits of having a better string in your racket? And if you do take the plunge, what tension do you have?
So many questions and here’s a few answers….
String at a professional level is Huge! It makes a massive difference to the feel of the racket. With a cheap string in, the racket feels useless and you might as well cut them out and start again before you even contemplate knocking up with it. I am personally pretty fussy. I can tell the difference between string types and tensions quite easily. But, I want this Blog to inform the masses, at a club level.
There are a lot of strings out there, and from my experience, most people don’t know the difference between the different types of string. Also, from my experience, most club players don’t really care either as they can’t tell the difference, or they think they can’t.
Power or control based strings.
Thickness of the string for longevity. Obviously the thicker the string the longer it is meant to last you, and this is generally true. However, the thicker the string the less responsive it is and the ‘deader’ it feels. Thicknesses in squash range from 1.1mm to 1.3mm, with 1.2 obviously being the norm!
305 – (usually green but can come in clear). This is undoubtedly the most popular string, and rightly so. It offers everything. A great mix of power and control, slightly more weighed toward the power scale. It also lasts well.
Comes in 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3. It’s quite rare to see anyone but professionals use 1.1. This 1.1 does feel great though. The racket feels as though it cuts through the air quicker, which definitely seems to add more slice to the ball. This is not always a good thing though. 1.1 does not last as long as the others, by a long way. 1.2 feels great and is what most stringers offer, and only that. 1.3mm guage – some stringers offer, and this is a good choice, as you don’t loose to much feel from the 1.2 and it will last a bit longer. I use 1.2.
X-One Biphase – (usually red but can come in clear). This is 1.18, so slightly thinner than the normal 305 used by players. This offers slightly more power than the 305 and is meant to last as long, but I personally feel it doesn’t last quite as long. People definitely like this string though, and the colour looks good!
(All strings can be prone to snap around the inside edge of the racket due to a severe mis-hit : The downside to Tecnifibre strings is that they seem to be more suseptable than other string to snap from an extreme mis-hit ; but don’t mis-hit the ball and you’ll never have any issues with this!)
Supernick – (white or dark grey (called ‘Pro’)). Geared way more toward control. Definitely the second most popular string. A lot of people love it. I feel Supernick need to be strung a pound or two higher than Tecnifibre to enhance the control it provides. It does not last as long as Tecnifibre, so I recommend it should only be used in rackets with a closer string pattern eg. Dunlop, Tecnifibre and Harrow, but stay away from using it in Prince and Head rackets as it will snap quickly.
Powerfibre – (dark red). Offering more power and greater longevity than Supernick, but feels totally different. The beauty of this string is that it last much longer before snapping, as it has wire-like strands running through it’s core. Even when the outer sheath cracks, it looks like the string might snap, but it doesn’t, it keep on going and going. It’s a survivor!
Sensor Fibre – (yellow is the main one, but also offer green, black, red and clear). The ultimate string in my opinion. It lasts the longest and it feels the best for power and control. The only reason I’m not using it at the moment is I don’t have any! Most people have never heard of it.
The top Head string (black or orange) is pretty good, but does not last very long before snapping. The main Dunlop string is OK. Prince and Wilson squash strings are rubbish!
As a squash coach who also restrings about 500 rackets every year, I think it’s worth talking a bit about string tension.
Most club players don’t really know what tension to have when they get their racket restrung so they just opt for an ‘average tension’ and trust the re-stringer to judge this for them. I do not think this is a bad thing as the average, is the average for a reason, it’s the most popular, so people are generally happy with that!
If you want to be more of a connoisseur, then here’s some info to consider:
The general rule is : The tighter the tension – the more control. The looser – the more power.
What is a tight tension and what is a loose tension? I think this can change depending on string type and racket choice, but I’ll come back to that.
So, I would consider Average to be 27 lbs (pounds). Tight is 30-33 lbs. Loose 24-21 lbs.
I would say Prince PowerRing rackets need the average shifting to 29-30 lbs.
I would also say control strings eg. Ashway’s Supernick, also need the average shifting to 29 lbs.
The ever popular Tecnifibre strings can lose a pound after a few matches, due to their elasticity, so you could take this into account when you get your racket restrung.
Finally I would say that if you are unsure it is better to caution toward being slightly too loose than too tight. Rackets that are too tight feel dead like a frying pan! Strings that are slightly too loose, still maintain some feel to them but obviously the strings can move around more, which people don’t like.
For reference; Gregory Gaultier is outrageous and has 18lbs, which is very loose. Nick Matthew has a tighter 30lbs.
I personally opt for 24lbs. I used to be a 27lbs man, but the last 3 years I’ve gone a bit looser. I personally feel it gives great feel. I used a Head 135 Xenon racket, which is a rectangle / squarish head shape.