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Kicking Plastics: Options for Racquet Sports Players Who Care

Organic Racquet String for Tennis, Squash and Badminton

If you are the kind of player who thinks about the impact of plastics on the environment, then you should know what your options are in the category of organic strings. Unlike plastic strings which can take hundreds of years to break down, organic strings are animal byproducts and break down quickly and completely.

Babolat ™ leads the way in natural strings, of course. They started in France (1871) as a string company making strings for musical instruments. Now they are the world’s leading producer of natural gut racquet strings for tennis, squash and badminton.

Once alone in this field, Babolat has recently been joined by Wilson ™ and Luxilon ™, both of whom offer their own versions of natural gut string for tennis racquets.

The vast majority of recreational tennis players can play with fully organic sets. In other words, they can play with natural gut on both the mains and the crosses of their tennis racquets. So they will will want to consider these options:


Organic Tennis String Sets


Advanced intermediate players and extremely hard servers may find they are breaking their strings too often after switching to natural gut. These players may want to switch to hybrid sets in the category below.

Hybrid string sets feature plastic strings on the mains and natural gut on the crosses. This provides durability where durability is needed (on the mains) but opts for organic string on the crosses, which are least likely to break.


50% Organic Tennis String Sets


While nobody makes an actual set of natural gut strings for squash racquets, there is no difference between tennis and squash string other than the gauge. Typically, squash string is 17 gauge while tennis string is 16 gauge.

However, there are lots of tennis players who string their tennis racquets with 17 gauge and many squash players who string their racquets with 16 gauge string. So don’t worry about the label “tennis string”. Squash players should simply look at the gauge. And if they find they are breaking 17 gauge too often, then they should switch to 16 gauge.


Organic Squash String Sets


Squash players who switch to 16 gauge string and find they are still breaking strings too often should come into the store and talk to us. While there are no hybrid sets for squash, we can put together hybrid options off the reel that use half sets of natural gut on the crosses and plastic strings on the mains.

Badminton players who want to kick plastics to the curb don’t need to worry about gauges because Babolat makes several grades of badminton string in a few different gauges.


Organic Badminton String Sets


As with squash players, badminton players may have to experiment with different options in order to find a combination that holds up to steady use. And again, as with squash players, badminton players who are breaking strings too often should talk to our racquet techs in store. We can put together some hybrid options off the reel for anybody that is serious about reducing their use of plastic strings.

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We Recycle Racquet String

Recycled Racquet String
We do our best to recycle tennis, squash, badminton and racquetball string.
Did you know that racquet string cannot be recycled? Most people don’t. They assume it can, but it can’t.

All synthetic string ends up in landfills. Tennis string, badminton string, squash string, racquetball string, speedminton string. Once we cut it out of your racquet, it’s garbage.

For that reason, we offer arts and crafty people an opportunity to use discarded string one more time before it moves on to the local dump.

All of the string we cut out of racquets is stored in a string-only bin. We hold onto those string pieces until the bin is full.

Anybody who wants it can have it — absolutely free!!

We never mix it with garbage. The only thing in the string bin is clean string. All colours. All gauges. All sports.

Use it for arts and crafts. Use it for whatever you like.

No charge. Just take it away. All we ask it that you put it to use in one way or another.

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Racquet String Categories Guide

The are several categories of racquet string. Each has pros and cons. Below is a summary that hits on the main features of each category.


STRING TYPES GUIDE
NATURAL GUT
The King of String. Suitable for all racquet sports. Best choice for frequent recreational players over 30. Best overall choice for players with severe or persistent tennis elbow issues. Organic and biodegradable. Lowest environmental impact. Holds tension longer than any other type of string. Maintains elasticity for about 20 hours of play. Not recommended for frequent string breakers.
MULTIFILAMENT
Sensible choice for most recreational players who cannot afford natural gut. Multi-filament is a synthetic version of natural gut that offers comfort and playability. Suitable for all racquets sports. Maintains elasticity for about 8 hours of play.
SYNTHETIC GUT
Best choice for players on a budget. Most medium- to low-end racquets come from the factory pre-strung with synthetic gut. Maintains elasticity for about 8 hours of play.
POLYESTER (KEVLAR)
Tennis only. Not suitable for squash, racquetball or badminton. Used by most players on the pro tennis tours. Maintains elasticity for about 4 hours of play — which is why pros change racquets so often during matches. Not at all suitable for the vast majority of recreational tennis players. Not at all suitable for players under 16. Not recommended for players of any age with tennis elbow issues. Default option for frequent string breakers on a budget.

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Racquet String Gauge Guide

Racquet string comes in a variety of gauges. Below is a brief summary that hits some of the high points.

GUIDE TO STRING GAUGES
15 GAUGE
Ultra thick string. Highly durable. Great for high school tennis programs and loaner racquets where durability matters more than playability.
16 GAUGE
Most common gauge for tennis. Most common gauge for pre-strung tennis racquets. Reasonably durable. Capable of generating sufficient spin to satisfy most tennis players. Is sometimes used by squash players seeking maximum durability.
17 GAUGE
Suitable for tennis, squash and racquetball. Preferred by tennis players who like to generate extra spin. Additional stretch offers additional power. Popular gauge for tennis players who use polyester strings. This is also the most common gauge for squash and racquetball.
18 GAUGE
Suitable for tennis or squash. Extreme touch and spin, but not very durable. Excellent ball pocketing for added power. Like natural gut, 18 gauge is a bit of a status symbol for tennis players.
19 GAUGE
Suitable for squash. Extreme touch and spin, but not very durable. Excellent ball pocketing for added power. Not recommended for frequent string breakers.
20 GAUGE
Thick badminton string. Typically used by schools and community centres in program racquets. Sometimes used by players looking for exceptional durability.
21 GAUGE
Most common gauge for badminton string. Not suitable for anything other than badminton.
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How Tight Should I String My Racquet?

Head MX Fire Pro Tennis Racquet
Head MX Fire Pro
The first thing that you have to consider when you break a string on your tennis racquet is whether or not you should restring it at all. If, for example, you paid less than $50 for your racquet, it may be better to toss it and just buy a new one.

Depending on where you take your racquets for maintenance and the quality of string you use, the price for stringing can range anywhere from $25 to $40. So restringing a racquet that cost less than $50 new is generally not a good investment.

Once that decision is made, you then have to consider the type of string you wish to use. That decision will be based on many considerations including your playing level, the number of crosses and mains on your racquet, whether or not you suffer from tennis elbow and so on.

Your stringer can help you make a decision about the kind of string you should use. Alternatively, you can use the Internet to do some research and make a decision on your own.

Finally, you arrive at the question of tension. How tight should you string your racquet?

The answer to this question depends on how you want your racquet to perform. If you want a racquet that provides stability and power, you will want to string it one way. If you want a racquet that provides touch and control, you will want to string it another way.

Every racquet has a recommended range for tension. My Wilson [K]Surge, for example, has a recommended range of 55-65 pounds. The low end of this range will create a string bed with more give. The high end of this range will create a tighter string bed.

Beginners and intermediate players who play infrequently will usually choose to string their racquets at the low end of the range because they want their strings to absorb much of the energy upon impact with the tennis ball. They also want the power that looser strings seem to offer.

Looser string beds are more forgiving than tighter string beds. So stringing their tennis racquet at the low end of the range allows players to get away with more misshits and other mistakes.

Many advanced and expert players, on the other hand, prefer a tight string bed on their tennis racquets. Players at this level have enormous control over their swing speed. They also have superior directional control and don’t make as many errors as beginner or intermediate tennis players.

For the rest of us, who are somewhere in between the beginners and the experts, the best tension is also somewhere in the middle. Find the label on your racquet indicating the recommended tension for your racquet and then instruct your stringer to string it somewhere in the middle.