The Definitive Guide to Playing with Low Tension Polys

This blog is meant as a follow-up for our immensely popular posting on March 17 where we discussed the optimal method for stringing poly-based strings.  That particular entry has generated much discussion and many of our readers have been open to trying the suggested method and have reported success.  (Congratulations and thank you for reporting back!)  Unfortunately we have also had reports of some who have attempted the method without the desired results. This entry attempts to address some issues that may arise when stringing full co-poly setups at lower tensions.

One key element to keep in mind is that there is going to be an adjustment period for those using this method.  Keeping a positive and open mind is absolutely essential.  It is also vital for you to give change a chance.  Unfortunately this sometimes takes more time than our “instant gratification” society prefers.

Remember, the racquet is going to feel different.  The sensations will be new and some adjustments may have to be made.  Going from co-polys at high tensions to low tensions offers significant differences and it is not reasonable to assume that within 10 minutes you are going to adjust perfectly.  We have known players who adjust in as little as 10 minutes, but for some (usually older, more established players) the adjustment can take several hitting sessions.  The sensations are remarkably different. Specifically the level of comfort, ease of power, access to spin on command and controlled depth of shot.

Many players who have been playing with polys at high tensions are routinely hitting the ball so that it clears the net at astonishing heights.  It is not uncommon to see baseline rallies clearing the net by 6 -10 feet  with heavy spin in order to drop it in and keep it deep.  The energy this type of tennis demands over the course of a match is quite high.

Stringing full polys at lower tensions allows the player to hit the ball so that it clears the net lower.  The depth is maintained, but the effect of the shot is amplified.  It gets to the opponent much quicker, reducing his/her reaction time. It also takes less energy to achieve more effective shots – – another huge advantage.

When playing full polys at low tensions your chief objective in hitting groundstrokes is focusing on the height at which the ball clears the net.  If you are clearing the net at a height of no more than 2′ – 3′ you are exactly where you want to be.  This is the ideal clearance height and is really where the vast majority of your attention needs to be placed when adjusting to full polys at low tensions.

We have gone so far as to create a training aid to use with locals.  It is constructed of two pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe, red yarn and velcro straps.  Each PVC pipe is 6′ 6″ so that is rises 3′ over the net.  The top 3′ of each piece have been painted red.  The velcro straps are used to lash the pipes to the net posts.  The red yarn is then used to connect the two posts creating a “RED ZONE” in which players are instructed to hit.  We have found that players will report clearing the net at no more than 3′, but once the training aid is implemented some are amazed to see that they are actually clearing the net at 1′ – 3′ over the aid.

Once players begin to get the feel of keeping the ball in the red zone, they immediately begin to experience the true benefits of low tension co-polys.  Many begin hitting worry free because with co-polys at low tensions they can swing freely and be confident that their shots are going to land in the court.

The next issue becomes fine tuning.  Players need to pay attention to where the shots are landing when the ball is clearing the net in the red zone.  (Again, no more than 2′ – 3′ in height).  If the ball is not realizing the desired depth we suggest using the following formula to adjust the tension.  To increase ball length reduce 2 pounds of tension for every yard (3 feet) of added length.  If shots are too long, the reverse formula should be applied; increase tension 2 pounds for every yard you want to bring the shot in.  These are guidelines that tend to be remarkably accurate in adjusting the tension to achieve desired ball length.

Some additional thoughts…

1.  We noted one player who had difficulty with WeissCANNON TurboTwist at lower tensions.  While we have not playtested this string at lower tensions, we do think it important to note that due to the elasticity/construction of that unique string, it is suggested by the manufacturer that it be strung at tensions comparable to synthetic guts.  We are not yet sure of how it performs at low tensions.  We’ve heard from one person and would be anxious to hear from others as well.  Bottom line is the stringing method is effective for the vast majority of copolys, but not all.

2. The stringing method we described in the earlier post is a cliff notes version of a more complicated method.  Even so, that version will take some practice in order to get it to nailed down and consistent.  Using it will definitely create better playing stringbeds with significantly increased stability, however, the polys can still lose playing properties so length of shot will have to be monitored as tension maintenance fades. As the stringer becomes more proficient with the method/practice, the performance for the player will extend.

3.  Please continue to check back with our blog.  We expect to have a major announcement about the launch of a new string brand very soon.  This brand will hold properties exceptionally well and is SPECIFICALLY designed to be strung/played and used at low tensions.  It is an amazing product and dealers will have the opportunity to be trained and certified in the intricacies of the optimal stringing method.

Posted in Stringing | Tagged | 11 Comments

WeissCANNON Jibber-Jabber

Over the past two days we have fielded a number of email messages and telephone calls inquiring about the exclusivity of WeissCANNON string products.  The purpose of this post is to have a resource to which those with these questions can be directed.

In short, as players who use them know, WeissCANNON strings are high quality offerings.  The founder of the company, Siegfried Weiss, has been involved in the tennis business for more than 45 years and holds an engineering degree in fibers technology.  The WeissCANNON string offerings which were introduced as a brand in 2006 are constructed/manufactured to his specifications.  They are tested and refined before being introduced to the marketplace under the WeissCANNON brand.  They are authentic WeissCANNON products.  Simply put, WeissCANNON strings are WeissCANNON strings.  No other strings are the same although given the reputation for quality it is easy to understand why lesser brands would want to claim to be of similar or equal quality.  If you truly believe that you can get the same string under a different brand name at a lower cost, we suggest you get it and try it for yourself.  We are confident after your affair with the lesser brand and the inevitable disappointment you will be back.

In message board jibber-jabber there are some anonymous sources who claim to have inside intimate knowledge about the origin of all strings.  While it is true that many string brands are produced in the same factories, it would not necessarily be accurate to claim that because they appear to have similarities that they are the same.  It is something akin to someone claiming that McDonalds Hamburgers are the same quality as you can get at Fuddruckers, only much cheaper.  Well, guess what?  They indeed are both hamburgers but they are definitely not same.

A better analogy might be cars. Chevy Camaros, for instance, are produced on the same assembly line.  The standard coupe comes equipped with a 3.6 liter, V6 engine, 18″ wheels and a standard sound system.  The SS version comes equipped with a 6.2 liter V8 engine, 20″ wheels and a Boston Acoustic Sound System.  Both cars are produced in the same factory.  They have some of the exact same components and they even look very much alike.  Yet, when it comes to performance and the pleasure you are going to get as a driver, they are very different.

Just because someone believes that “string x” comes from the same factory as “string y” it is quite a leap to claim they are the same.  Perhaps they are indeed rolled on the same reel…but what does that really suggest?  The Camaro Coupe and the Camaro SS both have the same body, yet they drive with distinct differences. The performance level is not the same and for that matter neither is the cost.

We just want our customers to be wary of the claims that they have seen on message boards.  Behind the scenes, the tennis string business is extremely competitive and cut-throat.  There are some bad eggs out there.  There is one brand in Europe that is notorious for aggressive guerrilla marketing and other non-flattering business practices. While we can not substantiate the validity of the complaints about this brand, we are aware they exist.  Could the speculation about lesser brands being equal to or the same as WeissCANNON be another product of these guerrilla marketing efforts?  Perhaps.  We don’t really want to go that far, but we would suggest it is a possibility.

The take home message from us is that WeissCANNON strings are WeissCANNON strings and are not another brand.  Period.  End of story.

If you believe you can get the same product under a different name at a lower price, by all means go for it.  Afterall, many people are very happy with the driving performance of the coupe.  They enjoy having a vehicle that resembles the SS and do not really care that the performance is not at the same level.  Others, who demand superior performance, are simply not content without the top of the line equipment and features.  You have to decide for yourself which camp you are in.  Can you do with accepatable performance or are you seeking the best of the best?

The content of this blog entry is the copyrighted property of Guts and Glory Tennis LLC.  It may not be copied or reproduced without our express written permission.  We invite those with comments to comment via our blog. 

Posted in WeissCANNON Strings | 9 Comments

Upcoming Learning Opportunity

Just this past weekend registration for the 2011 GSS Racquet Stringer’s Symposium was put online.  The dates to reserve are September 24 – 28.  The location is going to be the Saddlebrook Tennis Resort which is located near Tampa in Florida.

While the symposium is always an awesome opportunity for stringers of all levels to learn more and enhance their craft, this year has the potential to be the best ever.  First, the Saddlebrook Resort will offer opportunities to play on all 3 surfaces while attending.  This is a welcome addition as participants will be able to conduct on site playtests and it opens up a world of new possibilities for learning and fun!

Many who have followed this blog over the past year know that I have undergone a significant transformation in my understanding of poly-based strings as well as the techniques/methods used to install the strings.  My mentor, John Elliot of France, has inspired and guided me to becoming a more complete and cerebral stringer throughout my journey of enlightenment.

John, a GSS Symposium stalwart, will once again be participating in this year’s symposium.  John will be managing the open stringing room.  What does this mean for you?  Well, I suspect if you are lucky you might be able to get some personal advice and valuable one-on-one time with John. In addition to all the goodness of the Symposium, some participants will be able to take advantage of John’s availability and possibly learn about his advanced stringing practices.  What could be better? Those interested in this and a variety of outstanding learning opportunities, will want to register to attend the symposium using the following link.

John, a GSS Symposium stalwart, will once again be participating in this year’s symposium.  John will be managing the open stringing room.  What does this mean for you?  Well, I suspect if you are lucky you might be able to get some personal advice and valuable one-on-one time with John. In addition to all the goodness of the Symposium, some participants will be able to take advantage of John’s availability and possibly learn about his advanced stringing practices.  What could be better?

Those interested in this and a variety of outstanding learning opportunities, will want to register to attend the symposium using the following link.  The site will provide a list of seminars as well as information on registration.  Register early and earn yourself an early registration discount!

Posted in Guts and Glory Announcements, Poo-Poo Platter | Tagged , | 1 Comment

New string = more spin than ever…GUARANTEED!

Guts and Glory Tennis is thrilled to unveil an innovative string product guaranteed to produce more spin than you have ever experienced or 2x your money back!

For the past 4.5 years, Dr. Lars Lufferington, a German born chemist and engineer, has dedicated his life and family fortune to the pursuit and development of what he proudly calls “the greatest spin string in the history tennis.” Three years of rigorous lab testing has conclusively proven this string produces 144.6% more spin than the most spin friendly poly.

The string, named APRILIA SPINMEISTER, is made using a revolutionary process where tiny shards of a velcro-like substance are twisted around the outer coating of the string.  If you have ever seen a string like Gamma Ruff, picture the wrap as strands of velcro and you will have an idea of how this string looks.  In terms of performance, the velcro-like wraps literally grab the ball and spit it back with a rotation unlike any other string to date. The felt of the tennis ball acts exactly like the reverse counterpart of the velcro and can not help but spin like crazy when struck with a spin generating stroke.  Local 4.5 level playtesters have been able to successfully kick serves that explode 9+ feet into the side fence.  Kick serves using this string are literally unreturnable and the ball dances like never before with spins from the baseline.  Seriously, we expect the ITF may outlaw this string because the spin potential  is supernatural.  Until then, we hope you will you and enjoy astonishing your opponents with it!

The manufacturer strongly recommends that this string only be used as a cross string in hybrid with co-poly mains. When used as a full setup with soft hitters drop volleys have literally adhered themselves to the stringbed surface resulting in the loss of a point.  However, this issue does not arise when using in a hybrid setup.

Aprilia Spinmeister is the second string offered from Luf, (pronounced LOOF).  This is the new string product we have been trumpeting since December.  It is exclusively available from Guts and Glory Tennis.  In comes in two gauges, 16 (1.30mm) and 17 (1.25mm).  We will have it available in 40′ sets and 660′ reels.  Introductory pricing will be just $5.90 per set, and $59.90 per reel.  We GUARANTEE with a 200% money-back guarantee that you will get more spin than ever using this new/ingenious technology.  We are accepting pre-orders today.  Just send us an email message stating how much you want to order and we will hold it aside and be in contact with you.  We expect to begin shipping April 5.

Posted in Humor/Satire | Tagged | 9 Comments

The Definitive Guide to Stringing Polys and Co-polys

Okay students, time to take notes.

Qualitative analysis of tennis message boards, tennis twitter accounts, facebook pages, blogs and various discussions has convinced me that the vast majority of stringers are not well versed in the nature of poly and co-poly strings.  As a result, many stringers, even those widely respected and much revered, do not install poly-based strings in a manner that optimizes their performance.  In fact, it is not going out on much of a limb to estimate that 90% or more of stringers in the USA are UNINTENTIONALLY installing these strings in a manner which robs them of performance characteristics.  I know because until late 2010 I was among this group of well-intentioned professional stringers who was unknowingly butchering these strings because I was not aware of how they needed to be handled.

First of all, and perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome, is to realize that poly-based strings are designed to perform best at lower tensions.  We are talking a tension range in the 30’s – 40’s.  The absolute top end of that range would be 52 pounds.  Once you go beyond 52, you are entering the point of quickly diminishing returns.  I realize this may represent a HUGE shift in thinking for many readers.  In fact a majority of you are probably thinking of mailing me a care package of colorful Sharpies so that I can decorate the walls of my padded room, but it is not really that crazy.  The fear of low tensions is loss of control.  I can assure you from personal experience as well as experience with many local customers, that quality poly-based offerings, PROPERLY INSTALLED, give ample control at these low tensions.  I PROMISE this is a true statement.  In fact, when all elements are working together (strings/racquet/player) it becomes almost impossible to hit a ball long.

Installing poly-based strings requires one critical element that many stringers may find challenging.  P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E!  It is not possible to provide to a quality stringjob with poly-based strings using a rushed sequence.  The 15 minute stringjob that may be just fine for synthetics and natural gut, just is not going to cut it with poly-based strings.  IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RUSH THE STRINGING PROCESS WITH POLY BASED STRINGS.  Some professional stringers may take issue with this statement.  They will claim their stringing method is fine-tuned, precise and consistent.  We take no issues with these claims.  However, those elements without additional care are NOT good enough to produce the best outcomes for poly-based strings.  What they produce is consistently mediocre (at best) results.  We must remember that the majority of recreational and league players need their strings to last much longer than the pros who get a fresh string job every 9 games.  They need to last for weeks and sometimes months.

Poly-based strings are oft criticized for being stiff, rapidly losing tension, contributing to elbow pain and failing to hold playing properties.  Each of these claims can be true, except there is a huge BUT here that dwarfs even that of Ms. Kardashian.  These statements are only true when the strings have been overtensioned and OVERSTRETCHED.  When not overtensioned or overstretched poly-based strings are EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE, LOSE LESS TENSION THAN MOST SYNTHETICS, and HOLD PLAYING PROPERTIES for an extended period of time. (The last varies according to makeup of string).

How can this be? The literature, testimonials and even the USRSA data show that poly-based strings loose tension rapidly.  Clearly the statement made in the above paragraph is nothing more than an outpouring of a deranged mind, right?  Well, not necessarily.  We are suggesting that all this data is gathered from and observed by individuals and groups who have overtensioned the poly-based strings…including the USRSA who test at 62 pounds!  (This might give representative results with other strings, but it just ain’t gonna fly with poly-based offerings.)

Poly-based strings have a much lower level of resiliency than synthetics and natural gut.  As such, when being installed, it must be handled with care.  Even though it is a strong and durable string in the raquet, it takes a tender touch to install properly.  The best analogy we have found comes from John Elliot.  John compares poly-based strings to the spring that can be found in your average ball point pen.  Just like the spring it offers resiliency and when properly used it will hold this resiliency for an extended period of time.  However, just like the spring in the pen, it can be easily stretched out of shape if not handled properly.  Once this stretching occurs, the spring is dead.  It will continue to elongate, but will not retract back into it’s original form and shape.  The exact same principle applies to a poly-based string.  It CAN NOT be OVERSTRETCHED or OVERTENSIONED without suffering consequences.

Unfortunately in order to keep it in perfect form, there are 2 CRITICAL STEPS that must be taken during installation which are not necessary with strings of different constructions.  These steps will without question slow the stringing process.  However, it is necessary in order for the poly-based strings to give optimal performance.

1.  If using a constant pull electronic machine, the machine’s pull speed needs to be set to the lowest possible speed. We use a Wilson Baiardo and the lowest pull speed is 30%.  It is easily set to this level and this is where the Baiardo is most effective for stringing poly-based strings. The reason this step is necessary is because electronic machines overshoot tension and then back down to the desired level.  The faster the pull speed the more dramatic and harsh the overshoot.  Most machines will overshoot at least 10% – 18% over the set tension.  (Remember we are trying not to exceed 52 pounds in order not to overstretch the string!)

2.  Once tension is reached, the stringer needs to wait at least 5 seconds before clamping off.  This allows the poly-based string to stretch PROPERLY.  By failing to give poly-based strings this much time slack is not properly removed and the string will loose tension and the wonderous low-tension performance will never be realized.

By following this pulling procedure the end result will be a tighter stringbed that holds tension for a longer period of time than one with higher reference tensions not pulled with an eye toward end performance rather than speed.  In the south we refer to this process as “Moseying.”  You gotta take your time, mosey along and enjoy yourself while stringing poly-based strings.  It’s really the only way to do it well.

At this point a summary is in order.  To get the best possible performance from poly-based strings you need to make sure you or your stringer do the following:

1.  Select a tension in the upper 30’s – 40’s.  The tension will vary according to density of stringbed and head size.  (Note:  It can be easily adjusted through observational learning.  We’ll cover this in a future blog entry.)

2.  Set pull speed to lowest possible setting when using an electronic constant pull machine.  If using drop weight, lower bar slowly.  If using a crank machine once machine starts to resist crank very, very slowly until it locks.

3.  Allow string to sit under tension at least 5 seconds before clamping so that it has sufficient time to properly stretch.

Keep an open mind, give it a try and you will be AMAZED at the results.

Posted in Stringing | Tagged , | 92 Comments

The Golden Era of Polyester is Upon Us!

Back when I was growing up in the 70’s, I was thoroughly convinced I was living in the golden era of polyester.  Polyester leisure suits were all the rage.  They are what all the really cool dudes wore.  Me, my father, our minister, my band director and of course, Herb Tarlick from WKRP.  Polyester had become the pinnacle of hip and cool.  Much better than cotton because it never wrinkled plus the aura of couth was unparalleled.

Unfortunately it was a fad.  No staying power.  But polyester survived.  It was blended with other materials and continually refined so that the strengths would be amplified and the weaknesses eliminated.

The story of polyester in the tennis world follows the same basic path.  Polyester tennis strings debuted shortly after the leisure suit.  However, it was not until they were blended with other materials that they began to find an audience and truly shine.  Today we find ourselves taking the blending concept to entirely new levels while our performance on the court as well as the pleasure associated with playing tennis using these new wonderstrings escalates to new dizzying heights…heights beyond those of the even the finest leisure suit.

Earlier this week I was exchanging email messages with a friend in the tennis business and I declared that it was a great era to be a stringer.  I truly believe this is 100% accurate.  The new co-poly strings (which we refer to as poly-based because they are polyester blended with other materials) are advancing and becoming more dynamic and sophisticated.  The profiled strings are extremely interesting to players because they offer a level of spin and control not previously seen.  MSV Focus Hex led the way as one of the first and best selling profiled strings in hexagonal form.  It was recognized on a world-wide forum as being the top-rated poly-based string in 2008.  Soon after boatloads of companies were jumping on the shaped poly-based string bandwagon.  Then in 2009 and 2010 we found the shaped string phenomena reaching new heights as the first twisted profiled strings were introduced.  For us, the WeissCANNON TurboTwist was the first of this ilk we carried and it wasn’t too long before other companies were sending their twisted poly-based offerings to market as well.

Forms began advancing.  Next on the landscape were strings of various shapes and angles.  Babolat popularized the octagonal string with their launching of RPM Blast while Technifibre came on board with a pentagon shaped offering called Black Code.  Finally WeissCANNON upped the playing field at the end of 2010 with a pentagon shaped string of their own called Black5Edge which set a new standard in the performance of poly-based strings.

But that standard would quickly be challenged as we discovered a lesser known string company powered by one of the original polyester pioneers, John Elliot.  LTEC strings are state of the art poly-based offering extruded in a variety of interesting shapes.  From pentagon to triangle to twisted octagon, LTEC strings are offered in a variety of shapes that definitely impact performance in a very positive manner.  Yet what is most riveting is the concept of mixing poly-based strings together in hybrid to achieve unique performance.

What???  Naturally we were familiar with the concept of blending poly-based strings with natural gut and synthetics…but blending them with one another?  What could that possibly hope to accomplish?

Well, it accomplishes quite a bit.  By blending different poly-based materials with varying gauges and shapes, a wonderous world of options is thrust upon us.  Different shapes in mains and crosses promote more snapping action and spin than others.  Different gauges produce a variety of power levels as well as control.  The potential for customization/optimization is absolutely wide open for the serious and creative tennis players.  Trying new hybrids, exploring performance elements and projecting how different combinations will interact with each other is a stringing nerds dream come true.  So much to learn.  So many innovations.  Truly the golden era of polyester is now upon us.  Be like me.  Embrace it with your full heart and soul.  Then go to the nearest thrift store, buy yourself a leisure suit to pay homage to the material that has created this perfect era!

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Stringing via the Jaycee Method…Why Bother?

Earlier this year we posted about our philosophical trip to Paris and our desire to adopt and utilize the stringing methods of John Elliot in our business.  In the process of making this commitment several core beliefs were challenged and had to be carefully examined.  We had to be open to the notion that the stringing world as we knew it and understood it may indeed have another dimension–a dimension that we had not yet explored.  Once we were able to accept this reality, the door of new possibilities literally sprung wide open and the glorious light of these realities shone brightly upon us.

Since adopting the Jaycee Method our product has improved in ways we never anticipated.  Yes, we are still able to generate a consistent stringbed stiffness as measured by the ERT 300 and ERT 700 that we use, but we are also now able to string with less variance from string to string as measured by a Stringmeter.  While readings on measuring devices can be interesting and reassuring, they can also be misunderstood.  Ultimately it does not matter one iota what my ERT or the Stringmeter tells me, what matters most is the experience using the racquet on court.  This is where recent feedback I have received has been most surprising.  My customers, many unaware of the new stringing process, are sharing unsolicited feedback with me.  Admittedly in some instances this is due to the fact that I have them playing with new strings, but some who have not changed strings have also noted a difference.

What is the Jaycee Method providing that previous methods did not?  Here’s a quick list of what I have heard and directly observed thus far…just about a 6 weeks into the journey.

– The stringbed is more uniform and stable.  Not as much twisting on off-center hits
– The sensation of the ball off the strings is extremely pleasant
– Hitting the ball is easier allowing the player to expend less energy and remain fresher longer
– The playability of the strings lasts much longer
– Very little measurable tension loss as compared to previous methods
– Ball control and targeting is enhanced
– Greater access to spin when called upon
– Controlled power on demand
– The feeling that my game has improved

With these early comments and observations, I stand more convinced than ever that moving in this direction is good for my business and most importantly great for my customers.  I am excited to see what the rest of the year will bring as my proficiency improves and these techniques are introduced to new customers.  The bottom line is that the Jaycee Method is much more efficient than other methods because it maximizes the performance of the strings ultimately making the on court experience much more pleasurable for the player.  Afterall, that’s really what it is all about, isn’t it?

Posted in Stringing | Tagged | 2 Comments