Stringer’s Corner: Avoiding Notching

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It is safe to say that anyone out there who has strung a racquet or had their racquet re-strung on a regular basis has had some experience (most likely negative) with string notching.  For those who are unfamiliar with the process, notching occurs when a main string “cuts into” a cross string, or the other way around.  This usually results in very little (if any) string movement, and eventually can cause a pre-mature string break if the notching continues to eat all the way through the string.

string break

In a previous blog I explored the benefits of polyester strings, and albeit they provide great playing characteristics, their stiff nature can often lead to string notching.  There are two specific different string situations that often result in notching, each of which with a couple solutions to avoid notching all together.

Situation #1: Polyester / Synthetic or Multifiliment (Multi) Hybrid

This is the setup that is very commonly associated with string notching.  Hybrid stringing has been a huge hit in the stringing market, allowing players of every level to benefit from the durability and other playing characteristics of polyester strings without sacrificing their arm.  In order to really benefit from this situation, you must string the polyester a good 3-4 pounds less that the synthetic or multi.  If strung the same tension, the stiffer polyester string will quickly notch through the softer and less durable synthetic or multi.  If you are just making the initial switch over to a hybrid setup, you can determine your ideal tensions based upon what you were previously using.

Situation #2: Full Stringbed of Polyester

Many players switch to polyester for the firm string bed that these durable strings provide, and are often impressed with the lack in string movement that results.  What many players do not realize is that when there is little to no string movement, chances are that the strings are notching.  Because polyester strings are stiffer, that are greatly susceptible to cutting into themselves where the mains and crosses meet.  Textured polyesters, although providing great playing characteristics, are the biggest culprits is string notching as their texture causes even more friction and thus notching.  To avoid this (or at least slow down the process) I recommend finding the right setup of tensions that will allow the mains to be strung 3-5 pounds tighter without forcing the cross strings to be so loose that they are constantly moving.  This happy medium varies from racquet to racquet and can largely depend on string pattern and head size.

Also, if you are using one of the great new textured polyester strings out there, like Signum Pro Tornado or Genesis Spin X, and you are finding that in a full string bed they notch prematurely, you can try using a non-textured polyester as the cross string.  When poly strings notch, it is often due to the cross string cutting into the mains, and if you switch the cross string to a round polyester like Pro Supex Big Ace or Genesis Black Magic, it will extend the live of your string setup.  I have found this technique to be “the best of both worlds” because the spin and texture of the main string is still highlighted in this setup.

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