Most of us, squash players, give some reasonable attention to the selection of a new racquet and sometimes forget that it’s the strings that will be the engine that will propel the ball deeper and faster in the court. A good string is responsible for much of the work in the game if we take into consideration power, control and performance on each move.
In a nutshell:
- Looser string tension typically gives you more power, tighter string tensions more control.
- Thinner strings bite into the ball more and offers more ability to control the ball, thicker strings provide more comfort and durability.
- Changing string model or tension creates many variables and finding that combination is key to maximizing the performance in your racquet and your game.
What is the best tension to play squash?
Typically, the average tension of a squash racquet is between 27 and 28 lbs. Most racquets arrive from the factory with these values and racquet frames should show the supported range. Above this benchmark, tension is already considered high and less than 25 lbs are considered low.
My best recommendation is to experiment with different types of tension, a change of 3 to 5 lbs will make a huge difference in the game. If you’re just starting with squash, play a few matches and take your feedback to a professional stringer at a specialised shop. Someone who has experience stringing as a profession will be able to evaluate your feedback and recommend the perfect string and tension for your style.
Of course, these are just examples. Each player, in fact, should go out and test with which type of tension to find which best fits. Most casual players do not notice a big difference in changes in tension. They are more noticeable among professional players or those more involved in sports.
On this, it’s curious to see how some pros manipulate stringing. Gregory Gaultier, for example, is a peculiar case. It uses only 15 lbs, which represents almost half of the average value. According to an article published in Squash Player Magazine, the value of 28 lbs has been the standard of stringing tension considering the sport as it is today.
This means that Gaultier is able to generate a lot of power in his hit at this tension value. But does he lose control of the move? Well, for most of us, mere mortals, the answer would be yes. For him, no, after all, his skill level is already well developed. For that reason, he can make it work for him in the best way possible.
Tips for Choosing Squash Rope Tension
Some interesting tips for choosing the right level of tension for your game:
– If you have problems at the elbow or shoulders, do not use too high values. Ideally, it would be up to 27 lbs or train to improve your shot/serve.
– The string loses tension as you play, over time. So if you are one of those hard-hitting players or does not break the strings very often, it may be interesting to adjust one or two lbs above the tension you consider ideal.
– Another factor to consider is the type of the head and throat of your racquet. This influences the size of the main string (vertical). The larger the head, as in the teardrop-shaped throat racquets, the higher the recommended tension. That depends on the size and quantity of the main strings, the tension can be adjusted that way.
Squash strings are made mostly (99%) nylon, which is not affected by water and not as expensive as other types of fibers. They can be either fabricated as multifilaments or monofilaments (such as fishing ropes).
The multifilament ones are made of thousands of very fine fibers grouped together, producing a soft and resilient touch, as well as a dynamic elasticity. That is, even with high tension, where the control of the ball is best, players are still capable of generating a decent of power. Therefore, although they are more expensive and not as durable as monofilament ones, they are worth to any squash player who takes the game seriously.
The monofilament ones are quite durable but less flexible. For that reason, Squash players tend to prefer performance over durability and picking multifilament ones instead. However, they still represent the cheapest type, being an economical and convenient choice for squash players who are on a tight budget.
Thinner strings bend more easily, which creates greater momentum and power for your shot. In addition, the thinner, the easier it is to shoot with a spin effect on the ball. Taking this into account, why don’t we always choose the thinnest strings? Well, the downside is they are also more likely to break quicker. Since they are not the cheapest piece of equipment to buy and not so easy to change, choosing thicker strings usually is the smartest decision.
In Squash, the most used types are 1.1 (thinner and less durable) to 1.3 mm (thicker and more durable). The thickness can also be measured in gauges. In that case, measurement is the opposite. The larger the gauge, the smaller the thickness. Thus, an 18 gauge is thin, a 17 is medium and a 16 is thick.
In general, every racquet maker in Squash has its string production as well. However, two brands stand out and are considered “premium”. These are Tecnifibre and Ashaway. In the UK, products from these manufacturers are found in the main retail stores and online. In general, they are sold as an individual “set” (for a racquet) or a reel (longer length and for more than one stringing).