Department of State,
Bureau Of Stringing Practices
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
While U.S. badminton is beginning to make its mark in the world's arena, there's still much we can learn from players in countries where the sport is more popular. We asked two of our biggest foreign distributors about common racquet stringing habits in their regions, and learned about some interesting differences not only between the U.S. and elsewhere, but also between Europe and Canada. The information is from Oliver Baltzer of Victor-Sport in Elmshorn, Germany, and Allan Sklar of Black Knight Sales, in Montreal, Quebec.
Q: What type of racquet strings are the top badminton players in your area using?
Europe: About 15 percent of top players are using natural gut, and 85 percent are using synthetic materials.
Canada: Natural gut is very rare. Multifilament strings are by far the most common choice.
Comment: U.S. practice is more in line with Canada than with Europe in this respect.
Q: What string gauges are in most common use by top players?
Europe: For natural gut, 3 to 3.5 is most common. (The European 3 gauge for gut is approximately the same as a U.S. 21 gauge; 3.5 is a little thicker, more like a 20 MICRO gauge.) For synthetic strings, 21 and 21 MICRO is typical.
Canada: 21 and 22 gauge are both common.
Comment: Most top players in the U.S. follow the European practice, avoiding the extremely thin 22 gauge, and sticking with 21 and 21 MICRO strings. Thicker 20 gauge is still common among players with a greater concern for durability.
Q: What are the common tension ranges?
Europe: 9-11 kg. (That's 20-24 lb.)
Canada: 20-28 lb.
Comment: Players in the sport's top echelons (who don't have to pay for their own string or racquets) tend toward the higher tension ranges, around 26-29 lb.
Q: Have these practices remained constant, or do they represent recent changes?
Europe: It's the result of a clear trend toward thinner strings and higher tension.
Canada: The trend is toward higher tension. The problem is finding strings that can stand up to it.
Comment: In the U.S., the trend toward thinner strings seems to have stopped at 21 MICRO. Demand for 22-gauge does not seem to be growing, and there's no clear trend toward tighter tensions.
Q: Is 22 gauge string gaining in popularity?
Europe: No. Top players who are interested in "touch" and handling are using 21 gauge or 21 MICRO. Players who are more interested in durability use a 20 MICRO gauge.
Canada: Yes, as quality and durability improve.
Comment: Again, the U.S. is closer to European practice in this area.
Q: How many racquets do top players bring to tournaments, and how often do they break strings?
Europe: Most arrive with five to ten racquets, and break four or five strings during a tournament.
Canada: Much variation. Some players break one or more strings per match, others far less often.
Comment: Breakage is largely a function of string gauge, tension, and player strength. Top players, who tend to be really powerful, and who prefer thinner strings and higher tensions, break strings much more frequently than lower-ranked players.
Q: How often do top players restring?
Europe: Between tournaments, weekly or more often, assuming no broken strings.
Canada: They generally restring before tournaments, or wait for breakage.
Comment: Note that in both regions, top players always restring before a tournament.
Q: Is it appropriate for less advanced players to follow the stringing practices of top players, as above? If not, what changes do you recommend?
Europe: Our stringers advise less advanced players to use thicker strings than top players, but the same tension. This is because durability and economy are important to most players.
Canada: We recommend using the same, thin gauges as the top players, but stringing at lower tension for more power. In practice, however, we find most players using thicker gauges, in order to restring less frequently-just once or twice per season.
Comment: Take your pick. Thicker strings provide more durability and control, while thinner ones provide more power. Reduce tension for power and durability; raise tension to add control.
Synthetic 21-21 MICRO