The Perfect String Setup?
Racket and string choice, as with all sporting equipment, is highly subjective. Whilst there are certain rackets on the market which are far more popular than others, string choice is often a lot more personal. Many players will have a favourite string/tension which they stay with for years, often panicking when they take the leap of faith to purchase a new style of racket, worrying if their tried and tested string/tension will stack up on the new frame!
What suits one person, may not suit another. I've been doing some research and used data from Squash Stories, an online squash forum with some of the most fanatical fans and squash nuts around, as well as from some of the players I string for. In all, I've spoken with over 100 players and coaches to get this information, from enthusiastic club players, to seasoned pros.
So, what did I find? One of the main observations I made is that whilst all except 4 people answered that they chose Substance over Style, not one player surveyed uses a natural coloured or white string, despite most manufactures having these options (often cheaper) available. That being said, as a stringer, I barely stock any non-coloured strings and would choose substance over style myself... So perhaps I'm being a tad hypocritical :-)
I've managed to work out that the average preferred tension is just under 26lbs, which can be seen in one of the charts. Looking at head sizes, there was no real pattern, though you would normally expect to see slightly higher tensions on larger framed rackets - often compensating for the longer main strings. Most (74%) chose control as their preference over power from their strings too. From experience, I've noticed that a lot of players, certainly club level players, seem to be more impressed with power, though strings will frequently be blamed for excess tinning! How many times do you see a players look at their string bed and straighten their strings when tinning a drop shot, or worse still, serving down!!!
The big boys, Tecnifibre and Ashaway, led the way fairly clearly, with Karakal, Eye and RAB following. We had a whole range of string gauges listed, from 1.05mm - 1.30mm thickness and interestingly, from a 100 responses, the average gauge worked out at 1.18mm, which is a gauge that both Tecnifibre and RAB cater for, with the X-One Biphase and Razor Fibre. The most popular string model was definitely Tecnifibre 305 1.2, with Ashaway's range being more evenly distributed.
So what conclusions can I take from my survey?
1) Racket manufacturers should probably research their target markets more, as most players are influenced by the string colour, even if they don't admit it!
2) The survey indicates that most players would string at around 26lbs
3) Control is very important to players with 75% of players choosing control over power
4) Playability was 85% more important than durability, according to the survey. The string choices and gauges would appear to back this up.
5) More manufacturers should design a premium string in pink!