Fast and Furious or Form and Finesse II
How Stringing Choice Affects the Personality of Your Game
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
Last time we talked about the "personality" of different racket sports, in particular, how racquetball thrives on fast, "furious" and fitness, while squash relies on form, finesse and fitness. Now let's look at how these distinctions affect stringing choices.
Stringing For Fast Vs. Form
In racquetball, speed is the name of the game. With typical drive serves clocked at 100 to 130 mph, it makes sense that racquetball players want to increase power. Looser string tensions will achieve this by increasing the trampoline effect--that rapid stretch and rebound of the string bed as it contacts the ball. The more resilient the string bed, the more power it generates.
With squash, on the other hand, form is essential to good play. Because the squash ball is soft and slow, players must move to the ball, rather than wait for the ball to come to them. Good form improves shot control, keeping your opponent on his or her toes.
A more tightly strung racket will increase control. With a stiff string bed, the ball bounces off the racket face at a single instant. The player is better able to anticipate the moment of impact, and adjust the racket angle to optimize control over the placement of the shot.
Stringing For 'Furious' Vs Finesse
Racquetball rallies are based on power, with the best shot being the "kill shot," which is hit fast and low to the ground. The game is furious. Thicker strings provide maximum durability, and reduce the chance of a string breaking midpoint--and interrupting your momentum. That's why players like World Champion Jack Huczek choose Ashaway's SuperKill(r) II for their frames.
Conversely, squash is a cat-and-mouse game where hitting drop shots up front, solid "rails" along the wall, and well placed lobs in the back corners give you the competitive edge. Squash requires finesse. Again, the name of the game is control. Thin strings penetrate the surface of the squash ball a bit deeper on impact, giving players better command over ball placement. Textured string surfaces also enhance spins and slices for optimum ball control.
Stringing For Success
Does this mean that racquetball players can't pinpoint where their shots land? Or that a squash player has to sacrifice power to gain control?
Zyex fibers offer superior tension-holding properties in racquetball strings--ideal for players who string tightly--and they add tremendous power. Strings like Ashaway's PowerKill(r) Pro are available in gauges as thin as 17, and really bite into the ball, for optimum control.
Absolutely not. New, modern materials and string manufacturing techniques offer racket sport players a wide range of playing characteristics, all in a single string.
Zyex(r) fiber racket strings, for instance, increase power and playability at the same time, and offer better feel. Some nylon polymer strings now have an abrasion resistant wear layer that protects against notching--a notorious string killer in the fast and furious game of racquetball.
Zyex fibers also offer superior tension-holding properties in racquetball strings--ideal for players who string tightly--and they add tremendous power. For example, strings like Ashaway's PowerKill(r) Pro are available in gauges as thin as 17, or just 1.25 mm, and really bite into the ball, for added control.
Nylon multifilament strings like SuperKill XL have also come a long way. Textured surfaces enhance spins and slices, while the multifilament construction offers gut-like performance and playability. While you might sacrifice a bit in terms of durability, they offer a good combination of ball control and optimum resiliency.
Nylon multifilament strings like SuperKill XL offer a good combination of ball control and optimum resiliency. Textured surfaces enhance spins and slices, while multifilament construction offers gut-like performance and playability.
"Hybrid stringing," or using two distinctly different types of string--one for the mains and another for the crosses--is very popular in racquetball. It lets players take advantage of the best properties each of the strings has to offer. For example, a racket strung with 16-gauge DuPont(tm) Kevlar(r) mains and nylon polymer crosses provides a firm string bed, good bite on the ball and exceptional durability. Dropping the gauge of either or both strings to 17 will increase playability. Players can achieve these traits with prepackaged hybrid strings, or by customizing their own combination--some even substituting squash string for maximum resiliency and feel.
Both racquetball and squash players will have more and more choices as string materials and manufacturing techniques continue to advance. The key to choosing the right string for your game is to know your sports personality, and then pick a string that maximizes your performance.
This article previously appeared in Racquetball Magazine.