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Diagnosing Broken Squash Strings

Squash strings break for a variety of reasons. The purpose of this article is to help players understand the symptoms of different kinds of breaks so that they can make the appropriate changes.

Sheer Breaks

Sheer breaks occur along the frame line. Most commonly these are the result of players hitting so hard that they overpower the materials. (Yes, guys, it is possible to hit a ball so hard that you break perfectly good string.)

Image 2 - Top Sheer Break
Image 1 – Top sheer breaks are usually caused by overhand serves.

Players who serve overhand often break strings in the way seen in Image 1. Counting out from the top center of the racquet, sheer breaks caused by serves will often affect two of the first eight vertical strings. Whereas sheer breaks that occur on the side of the frame (Image 2 below) are usually the result of drives.

Squash Racquet with a Broken String
Image 2 – Side sheer breaks are usually caused by hitting drives off center.

Grommet Breaks

Grommet breaks look like sheer breaks because they also occur along the frame line. The difference is this: if the grommets where the break occurred are broken or split, then the cause of the break is assumed to be the defective grommet.

Squash Racquet Broken Grommets
Image 3 – Broken or missing grommets cause the frame to cut the strings.

In determining whether or not the grommet is the cause of the break, it is important to look closely at the grommet, because grommets can be split and still appear to be intact. If one or more grommets are missing, as in Image 3, the diagnosis is easy. But if they are split, it may not be so easy because they may not appear to be broken at first glance.

Wear Breaks

Wear breaks occur in the center for the string bed nowhere near the frame. They are called wear breaks because they are usually the result of long term wear and tear. Over time, the strings cut into each other at the crosses. Eventually, one cuts through the other and it breaks.

Squash Racquet Wear Break
Image 4 – Wear breaks occur in the middle of the string bed.

We treat wear breaks that occur in less than two weeks as a warranty issue. This is based on the assumption that some strings are defective and will break prematurely. The dividing line of two weeks is arbitrary because string that is defective should break the first time you use it. If you play two weeks or more without breakage, then it is likely not defective string. After two weeks, we consider it a wear break.


Sheer breaks at the top of the frame are easy to diagnose. If you serve overhand and are breaking strings and/or racquets regularly, you are hitting everything — balls and walls — much harder than you need to and you may want to make some adjustments to your game. While you are welcome to play anyway you want to play, you must understand that playing this way is a choice. Most importantly, it is an expensive choice.

If you choose to play a power game in which you are pounding serves and smashing walls, then you are choosing to bear the financial burdens of replacing the strings and racquets you will be breaking. Do not — DO NOT — blame the string, the stringer or the racquet manufacturer. If you choose to play this way, man up and accept the fact that you are breaking strings and racquets that other players would not be breaking under normal usage.


If you are not serving overhand and are not breaking racquets regularly but are still suffering frequent sheer breaks, then it’s a different issue. If you are 100% certain that broken grommets are not to blame, then it is almost certainly a string durability issue. Like the pounder in the last example, you are overpowering the materials in your string bed. The question is why?

Are your strings too thin? Frequent string breakers should not be using anything thinner than 17 gauge.

Are your strings too soft? Frequent string breakers should not be using Tecnifibre squash strings.

Is your string bed density too low? Frequent string breakers should not be using a racquet with less than 14 mains and/or 19 crosses.

Whatever the issue, we will be able to help you figure it out. Whenever you bring a squash racquet into our store for stringing, we add a note to your account. We record the racquet, the string, the type of break and the location of the break. This allows us to diagnose patterns over time for our customers.

Tracking Wear Breaks

Logging details in customer accounts in this way even helps us diagnose and avoid wear breaks. For example, we have been able to save some customers lots of money by encouraging them to change to more durable strings even before they became aware of issues. As players increase in levels, for example, we sometimes notice that they are wearing strings out faster than they realize. In other words, the data helps us help our customers.

The Trouble with Grommet Breaks

The one area where data does not help anyone, unfortunately, is the notorious grommet break. Grommet breaks are completely unpredictable. They seem to happen at random and, once broken or split, lead directly to broken strings.

The best we can do is to advise players to maintain their racquets and replace grommets as soon as they break.

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Save $200 Stringing Yonex Badminton Racquets

Great news for Yonex fans in Calgary. Our Yonex badminton racquet program just got even better.

There is no point in buying your Yonex racquets anywhere else because nobody can beat this deal.

Starting today, every customized Yonex ™ badminton racquet purchased in-store now comes with $200 in free stringing upgrades.

But wait! There’s more …

Customers who purchase these racquets from us will save time as well as money because they will be able to automatically upgrade from basic labour (one week turnaround) to guaranteed one-hour stringing at no extra charge.

Yonex Astrox Series

Racquet Network’s new badminton program saves you $20 every time you string your racquet. It also cuts down on the number of trips you have to make to our store.

Here is how things normally work.

  1. Break a string.
  2. Bring racquet to the store.
  3. Go home and wait for email notification.
  4. Come back to the store a few days later to pick your racquet up.

In other words, you make two trips to the store.

Here is how things work now.

  1. Break a string.
  2. Book an appointment.
  3. Bring your racquet to the store.
  4. Wait 30 minutes and then take your racquet home with you.

In order words, you only come to the store once.

Yonex Duora Series

The new system also saves you money. Guaranteed one-hour racquet service normally costs $40.00 plus the cost of string. Under the new program, it costs the same as one-week service: $20 plus the cost of string.

So players who are participating in our new program save $200 and 10 trips to the store, which more than pays for the cost of a new racquet.

This is because when you purchase a new Yonex badminton racquet from us, we automatically include $200 worth of stringing upgrades.

Yonex Nanoray Series

While this is awesome deal for anybody who lives in southwest Calgary, this is an even better deal for badminton players who live far from our store because it saves them even more time and more money on racquet stringing services.

Program Details

Our new badminton program, therefore, continues to be the best overall program in Calgary for badminton players who want to save time, save money and play with the best badminton racquets in the world. In addition to those three things, our program is also best for the environment because it reduces car trips and keeps racquets out of the landfills for longer.

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Is Your Racquet a String Eater?

Squash Racquet Broken Bumper Guard

Take a good look at the racquet in the image at the top of this article. It won’t take you long to see why the string broke where it broke.

It broke because the grommet for that string hole is both crushed and split. Two holes to the left of that, another grommet is broken.

You can see that we slid the separated grommet down the string to provide a landmark for another image of the same racquet from a different angle which is posted a little further down this page.

If you find that image, you will be a able to see what is happening on the outside of the racquet, which is the other side of the hole where the string broke.

Squash Racquet Broken Bumper Guard
The moment the bumper guard breaks, the racquet becomes a string eater.
Why did the grommet split? Probably because the bumper guard broke. Why did the bumper guard break? Because the player hit the wall.

Did either of these happen because of something the racquet stringer did six weeks ago when he strung the racquet for the client?

Absolutely not. Yet the customer’s first instinct when the string broke was to blame us.

We didn’t use the racquet. We didn’t break the bumper guard. We didn’t split the grommet.

The customer did it. He hit the wall. Hitting the wall broke the bumper guard. Breaking the bumper guard weakened the grommet. The grommet split, exposing the soft string to the hard graphite edge of the racquet frame. Then eventually, the string broke in exactly that spot.

These events may not have happened on the same day. Each may have occurred days or weeks apart. But each event led to the other and the end result was a broken string.

So before you blame the professional who strung your racquet, ask yourself this question: is my racquet a string eater?

If you have a broken bumper guard, your racquet is a string eater. If you have broken grommets, your racquet is a string eater. If your grommets are split but not fully broken, your racquet is on its way to becoming a string eater.

If your racquet is a string eater and you want to keep it you have two choices. Either fix it or be prepared to feed it a lot of string.

Don’t blame us. We will always advise you to fix rather than feed a string eater. In fact, we carry a lot of parts just so you have the option of fixing it.

Outfitting a racquet with a new bumper guard and grommets costs about $20.00, parts and labour included. However, if your racquet is a string eater, doing this could save you many times that amount.

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Why Do Strings Break?

Squash racquet with broken string
When a string breaks, don’t assume that your stringer did something wrong.
Here at Racquet Network, our stringers re-string nearly 2000 racquets a year. Less than a dozen racquets a year come back for warranty repairs.

This means that 99.994% of the racquets we repair are fine while 0.006% experience premature string breakage.

Yet in almost every one of the 0.006% of cases where strings break prematurely, the customer wants to blame us for doing something wrong. They seem to believe that when a string breaks, it has to be somebody’s fault.

This is a primer for those folks. The purpose of this article is to share our considerable experience about why strings break and to help players understand why this happens to them.

Don’t Take it Personally

The first thing to understand is that it’s not personal. Nobody is picking on you. It’s not a conspiracy.

All strings break eventually. Sometimes they break the first time you use them. Sometimes they last for years. When a racquet is strung, nobody knows how long it is going to last.

Your racquet might be in the 99.994% that are fine or it might be in the 0.006% that break prematurely. There is simply no way to know.

Even a perfect racquet that is perfectly strung by the world’s best stringer with the world’s best string on the world’s best stringing machine under perfect conditions can break the very first time you hit a ball or a shuttle with it. That’s a coincidence, not a conspiracy.

That said, however, there are come common causes for string breakage that we see regularly.

Racquet Maintenance Issues

Most often, the problem is with the bumper guard or grommets on the racquet itself. If grommets are broken, the graphite from the frame will cut through the string. If you are using a soft multifilament string like Tecnifibre ™ 305 or DNAMX, your string life can be extremely short.

The same is true for broken bumper guards. If the string in a racquet is passing over jagged pieces of bumper guard, there is a high likelihood that your strings will break prematurely. This is also true if missing pieces of bumper are exposing the string to wall/floor strikes on the outside of the frame.

Customer Usage

The second most common cause of string breakage is directly related to how customers use string. In squash, for example, we commonly see problems with men who overpower their string by literally hitting the ball much harder than they need to.

In this case, the story goes something like this.

A guy buys a squash racquet with thick, low grade factory string. He plays squash for a while and learns to serve overhand and to hit the ball really, really hard. Since the factory strings that were in the racquet when he purchased it are thick and designed for durability rather than playability, the player experiences no consequences for hitting this hard.

Eventually, however, the strings in the racquet break and the player brings the racquet in for re-stringing. For whatever reason, he decides to go with a highly playable string like Tecnifibre 305 or DNAMX, which are both playable but not very durable. So to nobody’s surprise, he goes out onto the court, pounds his first serve and immediately breaks his expensive new string.

Nobody is at fault here. This is simply physics. The strength of the player overpowers the strength of the string. This string is designed for professional squash players who consistently hit the ball in the centre of the stringbed. It is not designed for overhead pounders who hit the ball hard and off centre.

This is our second most common cause of string breakage; it is a player/string mismatch. The player and the string are both fine on their own; they are just wrong for each other.

This player needs a durable string, not a playable string. Once this is determined, we can advise players in this group to go with a more durable string, like Ashaway ™ Supernick XL Titanium.

The important thing to understand here is that nobody can know that the player and the string are wrong for each other until they try to play together. This is a matter of trial and error. Until they try, the error cannot be detected.


So the next time your string breaks prematurely, please don’t jump immediately to the conclusion that your stringer did something wrong. Given how we do things in our shop, this is highly unlikely and we suspect this is true for most professional stringers. A more likely explanation is that something else is at fault. Just bring your racquet in for us to look at. We will probably be able to figure out what happened and we will probably be able to help put you back into the 99.994% group.

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How to Save Money on Custom Racquet Stringing

Want to enjoy all of the benefits of custom racquet stringing without paying full price for everything? Try pre-ordering online. Then drop your racquet off whenever it’s convenient.

You will get exactly the same result as when you come into the store and place your order in person, but you will save money every time.

Pre-ordering your stringing this way allows us to save on staffing costs. So we can pass the savings on to you.

As an added bonus, our system will automatically send you a 10% discount on your next stringing purchase if you submit a review within 30 days.

That’s all there is to it. You already know what you want, so order it online and save some money. We will do the rest.