Spring Into an Equipment Tune-Up
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
Spring is here--a time of new life and rebirth--and the perfect time to give your racquetball equipment a mid-season tune-up. Here's how:
Start at the bottom, and check your shoes. While they do not need to be as bright and clean as they were when you took them out of the box, make sure that the soles are intact. A worn or uneven sole can significantly reduce the amount of lateral support the shoes provide, and make maneuvering around the racquetball court a risky proposition. Loss of traction can also be very dangerous on the court's wooden floors.
Inspect the grip on your racket. Is it worn to the point of compromised performance? Does it still provide both traction and comfort? If your grip has flattened out, you may be holding your racket handle too tightly, which could translate into less control. Specialized grips--such as over grips, contoured grips or grip tape--can offer you different comfort and performance characteristics, and may be worth looking into.
Next, check your racket frame closely for cracks. The tiny crack that you noticed at the start of the season may have grown, depending on how the racket has been stored and used. Improper storage may also account for bent or warped frames. Either of these problems can hinder performance. However, if your racket is structurally sound, donít let scratched paint or last year's style send you rushing out to buy a new model.
While surveying your racket frame, check that your grommet strip is intact. Worn or damaged grommet strips can cause harm to your racket and cause your string to break prematurely. This is especially true for all of you hard hitters out there.
Speaking of broken strings, restring your racket, whether the strings are broken or not. The general rule of thumb is that--barring any broken strings--you restring your racket as many times a year as you play racquetball in a week. So, a player who steps onto the court five times a week will most likely restring five times during the year.
This is also an excellent opportunity to confirm that you are playing with a string that best matches your style of play. Caught up in the pace of the game, we do not have time to focus on whether or not our string is still giving us the level of performance we desire. Stop to consider if your string is really providing you with the control, playability, tension, power, and/or durability you are looking for.
If you want to make a switch, but are unsure about what string might be best for you, ask for help. The racquetball pro at your club can work with you to determine the right string setup for your style of play. They offer a great way to learn about new strings that have come on the market, too. Or you can find a professional racquetball stringer in your area by visiting the home page of the Ashaway website and clicking on the link at the bottom, "Locate a Professional Racquet Stringer Near You." Either way, finding the string with the right combination of characteristics for your playing needs just might be the thing to take your game to the next level.
And don't forget to repeat this tune-up at the start of every season. The better your treat your racquetball equipment, the better it will treat you.
This article previously appeared in Racquetball Magazine.