Learning how to string a tennis racket is a great skill to have in your arsenal. It can save you time and money and allows you to be in control of your playing equipment.
It is important to get your racket restrung regularly to preserve the life of the frame, stop it warping and get the best out of your strings.
How often you play will determine how often you get your racket restrung.
If you are playing multiple times per week, you may break strings often and simply get a restring when your current strings break.
However, if you only play occasionally and don’t break strings regularly, you will still want to get a restring every six months at a minimum to maintain the health of your racket.
So, without further ado, here is your step by step guide for how to string a tennis racket:
What You’ll Need
There are a few pieces of equipment you’ll need to get started, including your racket and string. These are:
- A stringing machine
- Pliers: for tightening the knots and weaving through tight spaces
- A sharp Awl (metal spike with a rubber or wooden handle)
We will be basing these stringing instructions on using an electric stringing machine.
These are commonly used in most tennis clubs and will give you the most accurate and reliable results.
Preparing the Racket
The first thing you’ll need to do is cut out your old strings. You can use your clippers or a pair of string cutters (if you have them) for this.
Cut down the centre of main strings (vertical) and cross strings (horizontal) and unpick the strings.
Then, remove them from the racket, being careful not to catch the grommet (string holes) on the way out.
If you notice any cracks, holes or excess wear to your grommets, be it on the outer rim or on the inner string holes, it is important to replace it.
Damage to the outer grommet will cause your racket to wear down and weaken, whilst damage to the inner string holes could cut a string on the sharp racket surface.
If your racket is particularly dirty (if you have been playing on clay for example), it is a good idea to clean it down with a wipe.
This will help the frame to stay clean and stop excess wear and tear.
Clamp the Racket on to the Machine Turntable
You should clamp your racket to the stringing machine’s turn’s turntable using the clamps suspended above it.
These will hold the racket in place and retain the shape of the frame when the strings are being tightened.
Make sure to align the centre of the racket to the middle of the clamps, this is important to make sure the racket does not warp during the stringing process.
Be sure to align the racket to the centre of the turntable as much as possible, or you could find yourself with little room to maneuver when tying off knots or tightening those last few strings!
If your machine uses a six point mounting system, you should tighten the outer clamps first, to keep the racket in place, then adjust the inner clamps.
Top Tip: Tighten the clamps so they grip the racket firmly, but not overly tight. If the racket is gripped too loosely it will move when the strings are being tightened, too tight and it could also warp the frame.
Measure the String
If you are using a pre cut set of string, this will already be long enough to string virtually any given racket.
However, if you are using a reel of string you will need to measure out the correct amount of string for your racket, based on its head size and string pattern.
The string pattern indicates how many strings are in the mains and crosses of the racket.
That is, how many vertical strings the racket has as opposed to how many horizontal ones.
Most rackets will come in either a 16×19 or 18×20 string pattern, so when measuring the string you should use your racket head as a guide to determine how much string you’ll need.
Simply measure out 16 lengths of string from the top of your racket head (loop) to the bottom, and then 19 lengths from one side to the other, across the centre at 9 and 3 o’clock.
This will give you the amount of string needed to cover the racket completely (for a 16×19 pattern, adjust for an 18×20 or any other string pattern you may encounter).
However, it is very important to include extra string for knots and tying off, so be sure to add at least one more racket length of string to your total.
It is always better to have too much and waste a small amount of string than come up short and have to start again.
One or Two Piece Technique?
Before you start stringing your racket, you will need to decide whether you are going to use a single piece of string for both the mains and crosses or two separate pieces.
There are arguments on both sides as to which technique is better, but when using proper technique it shouldn’t make too much difference which method is used.
However a two piece method tends to be more user friendly.
A one piece can be used if you are using the same string for both the mains and the crosses, whereas if you are stringing a hybrid set up (or it is specifically requested), you will have to string with two pieces.
The main differences when using a two piece technique are that you will tie four knots instead of two and that you will need to measure out the mains and crosses separately.
Set the Tension
On your electric machine, you will be able to set the tension to the desired level as needed. Most machines will measure in tension in both kilos and pounds.
Be sure to set the tension correctly and allow the electric pulley to tighten the string before releasing a clamp.
The machine will normally beep to indicate when the string is fully taut.
A looser tension will give you more power, whereas a tighter tension will provide greater spin and control.
Tension The Mains
If you are using a two piece method, you can start with your piece allocated for the mains of the racket.
If you are using a one piece method you can measure out the correct amount and put a small kink in the string to mark where the end of the allocated string ends.
You now need to insert your string in the middle two holes of the grommet so you have enough string to cover all of the racket’s vertical strings.
If you are using a two piece, you can simply take both ends and thread them through the middle two holes, until you have both ends all the way through and evenly distributed.
Both sides of your mains should be the same length here, they can be covered equally.
However, if you are using a one piece here, you will need to count out the amount of string needed to cover half of the mains (as the rest will be included in the string you will use for the crosses).
For example, on a 16×19 racket, you would count out 8 mains worth of string (plus an extra half a mains length for tying off at the end).
If your racket has six holes at the throat, you can start pulling the strings through from the bottom side of the head.
If there are eight holes, you should pull the strings through from the top of the head.
Once you have done this you can clamp one side of the string in place (as close to the grommet as possible to minimise tension loss), and start to string the opposite side.
For example, if you have clamped the right hand string at the bottom of the racket, you will want to tension the left hand string at the top of the racket and visa versa.
Once the clamp is secure you can release the tension on the pulley or crank.
Top Tip: Make sure your clamps holding the strings in place are holding the strings firmly. Too loose and the string will slide through them, damaging the string and making it lose tension. Too tight and you will cause indents in the string, which will also damage it.
You should repeat this process until four strings on one half of the racket have been tensioned.
Repeat this process on the other half of the racket until you have eight strings tensioned in total. This will stop you putting unbalanced pressure on the frame of the racket.
Top Tip: Look out for shared or skipped holes. These are bigger holes that may also be used to house cross strings, and are usually indicated by markers or labels on the frame. If a hole looks like it is pointing in the wrong direction, it will usually be used for a cross string.
Tie Off Mains Knots
Once you have completed threading the strings through each of the mains grommet holes, it’s time to tie off the strings and get ready to weave the crosses.
Make sure to keep your strings clamped whilst tying off so you don’t undo all of your good work!
If you are using a one peice system here, you can tie off the short side of the string on a free hole big enough for it to easily fit through and leave the long side clamped.
To tie off the string, take the excess string and slide it down one side of the main string you are tying off against, bring it under and back up the other side, through the loop you have created.
This will form a simple knot. Pull this tight and repeat the process so you have two knots.
Top Tip: When tying off, use knots that face in opposite directions (opposing knots). This will help to keep tension in the string bed more effectively.
If you are using a two piece system, tie off both mains on each side and cut off any excess string.
Start Cross Strings
To start off your cross strings when using a once piece method, simply keep the clamp on the last main you threaded through and find the first cross grommet hole.
When using a two piece method, you’ll need to find a main with shared holes (one big enough to fit another string through it) and tie off the cross string here.
Use a starting knot here to ensure the string is held in place tightly. To do this, wrap this new string around the main three times.
Take the last two loops and thread the excess string through, then back through these loops again. You can see a few different options for starting your crosses here:
Weaving Cross Strings
Get started by finding the first cross hole (the upper most available free hole) and guide the cross string in between the mains.
Start with one hand under and one hand over the string bed and place the cross string over the first main string.
Then weave it under the next main, over the following one and so on. Do this until you reach the end of the mains and thread the string through the corresponding cross hole.
Top Tip: You can tell if you have weaved the crosses correctly by looking at the first and last weaves. They should be opposites, so if the first one is starting over, the last should be under and visa versa.
Pull the cross string through all the way on the first line and move the string up and down as it glides over the mains.
This helps reduce the friction you put on the mains and minimises any damage to the strings.
Repeat this process on the next line of strings, making sure to leave a larger loop at the end of the string so you can tension the previous one.
You can then place the side of the loop that corresponds to the last string into the pulley or crank to be tensioned.
Once held tight, it can then be clamped as close to the grommet as possible to avoid tension loss.
Repeat this process all the way down the racket, making sure that the string is opposite to the one above it (over vs. under) and tension the previous string as described above.
As you weave and tighten the previous string, try to straighten both the mains and crosses as you go.
This will help avoid tension loss and improve the consistency of the feel of the strings.
As you get towards the end of the cross strings, you will notice that weaving gets more difficult as there is more tension in the string bed.
So take your time here and make sure you weave accurately.
Knot The Cross Strings
To tie off the cross strings, find an available hole that will easily fit your piece of excess string.
You man need to use your awl and pliers here to push the string through and widen the hole.
You can tie off the crosses using the same double knot you used to tie off the mains. Then cut off any excess string, being careful not to cut any of your tensioned strings here.
Finally, you can take your racket off of the stringer and check it for any accidental damage and make sure everything is in order.
Once you are happy that your restring is accurate, cut off any excess string and make sure they are all straightened and aligned properly.
And that ladies and gentleman, is how to string a tennis racket!
Learning how to string a tennis racket is a great piece of knowledge to have, as a tennis player, coach or club member.
It can save you time, money and keep you in complete control of your playing equipment.
Learn the process thoroughly and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a top stringer!