Tuning Up For Another Great Squash Season
Shoes, and Rackets, and String...Oh My!
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
Leaves have fallen, trick-or-treaters have come and gone, and the sweet smell of holiday baking is wafting from just around the corner. Ahh…the signs of a new squash season. But before you go bounding onto the squash court, take a moment to give your equipment a pre-season tune-up.
The start of the squash season is an ideal time to restring your racket, whether the strings are broken or not.
As good a place to start as any is at the bottom. 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 make maneuvering your way around the squash court a risky proposition.
The same is true for 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 won't allow you to make key touch shots. You may also want to consider a specialized grip that provides shock absorption, to decrease the likelihood of joint injuries and muscle fatigue.
Next stop on your pre-season inspection should be your frame. Check it closely for cracks. A tiny crack that happened last season may have grown, depending on how the racket was stored during the off season. Improper storage may also account for bent or warped frames. Either of these problems can hinder performance. However, if your racket is structurally sound, don't let scratched paint or last year's style send you rushing out to buy a new model.
While you are surveying your racket frame, check that your grommet strip is intact. Worn or damaged grommet strips can cause damage to your racket and cause your string to break prematurely.
Speaking of broken strings, the beginning of the squash season is the ideal time to restring your racket, whether the strings are broken or not. The general rule of thumb is that-barring any broken strings-you restring your racquet as many times a season as you play squash in a week. That means a player who steps onto the court five times a week, will most likely restring five times during the season.
This is also an excellent opportunity to check that you are playing with a string that best matches your style of play. Think back to last season-did your string give you the feel, playability, tension, power, and durability you are looking for? If you aren't sure, try playing a trial match or two with the string currently in your racket. Then, evaluate whether or not your string is giving you the level of performance you desire.
If you want to make a switch, but are unsure about what string might be best for you, ask for help. The squash pro at your club is an invaluable resource, and can work with you to determine the right string setup for your style of play. He or she offers a great way to learn about new strings that have come on the market, too. You can also find a professional squash stringer in your area by visiting the Ashaway website at www.ashawayusa.com and clicking on, "Locate a Professional Racquet Stringer Near You." Either way, finding the squash string with the right combination of characteristics for your playing needs just might be the thing to take your game to the next level this season. Good luck.
This article previously appeared in Squash Magazine.