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Steve Crandall's Racquetball Stringing Tips

Skill Level And Game Style Influence String Choices

By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings


Power or control? Novice, intermediate, or advanced? The type of player you are, and your level of skill, should influence your choice of racquet string. Try this methodology to select the right string for your game.

Novice

Analysis: You mis-hit the ball frequently, so you need a string that delivers power even when you're way outside the sweet spot. Finesse is out of the question. You may also feel your game doesn't justify spending a lot on equipment.

Recommendation: Use the most common type of string: a multi-stranded monofilament, often called "tournament nylon." Nylon has good resiliency, so it delivers a lot of power. It's also very economical. Use a thinner gauge (around 17) if you need maximum power; go thicker (16) if durability is more of an issue.


Intermediate

Analysis: Your swing is more "grooved," and you've started to develop a style as a power or a control player. Either way, both power and control are improving. It's time to think carefully about the right string to maximize your potential, and spend a bit more, if necessary, to get there.

Recommendation: If you're a power player, the power now comes mainly from your swing, not your string. String breakage is beginning to be a problem, so you should give up a little power to gain durability. You could stick with heavier-gauge nylon, or step up to a 17-gauge nylon/18-gauge Kevlar(r) hybrid. The nylon crosses will provide enough power for your game, while the Kevlar mains add strength and durability.

If you're a control player, you still rely mainly on the racquet for power, but you also want a stiffer stringbed to enhance ball control. You could go with a thin nylon and string it up tight. Or, if you're willing to pay a little more to improve your skills faster, consider a Zyex(r)-cored string for its superior "dynamic response"-in other words, power and stiffness combined.


Advanced

Analysis: Players at this level are more powerful and have better control than intermediates-period. At the risk of sounding confusing: An advanced control player is more powerful than most intermediate power players; and an advanced power player has better control than any intermediate control player. But even so, within the field of advanced competitors, younger players tend to be more oriented toward power, while older players tend to emphasize control and strategy.

Recommendation: String breakage is a real problem for advanced power players. The incredible tensile strength of Kevlar is a necessity, but Kevlar alone is too stiff for any player. It must be combined with other materials for some playability. You've got two choices: a Kevlar-cored string with a more resilient overwrap; or a 17-gauge nylon/17-gauge Kevlar hybrid. The first is the strongest option, the second offers better playability.

Advanced control players can rely on the same choices as intermediate control players: a thin-gauge tournament nylon, or a Zyex-cored model. But now you can increase tension further, both because you're more powerful, and because your increased skill lets you place shots with great precision.

See the table for a summary. First find yourself in the left column. Then check the second column for the kind of performance that's most important to you, and read to the right for a description of the type of string you should look for.


String Choices - Based On Skill Level And Style Of Play


Skill Level and Style String Performance Needed Recommended String Construction Recommended String Gauge Example
NOVICE max. durability
plus power
nylon monofilament 16 SuperKill II
max. power
plus durability
nylon monofilament 17 SuperKill 17
 INTERMEDIATE
Power Player durability nylon/Kevlar hybrid 17/18 KillFire
power nylon/monofilament 16 SuperKill II
Control Player power Zyex-cored 16 PowerKill Pro
stiffness/control nylon/monofilament 17 SuperKill 17
 ADVANCED
Power Player durability Kevlar-cored 15 DuraKill
power nylon/Kevlar hybrid 17/17 KillFire XL
Control Player power Zyex-cored 16 PowerKill Pro
stiffness/control nylon/monofilament 17 SuperKill 17
This article previously appeared in Racquetball Magazine.

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