Q: I string my own racquets but a tennis buddy told me that pulling the cross strings through too quickly isn't good. Is this true and what kind of damage might be done?
A: Your friend is right. Once you've woven a cross string, and are ready to pull the rest of the string through, it is possible for friction to "burn" the main strings that are already installed. Friction burn can notch the main strings and shorten the life of a string job. In extreme cases, I've even seen friction-burn damage the grommets.
The good news is that friction burn isn't too tough to prevent. Weave your cross string line normal, but instead of pulling your crosses straight through, use your other hand to push the cross string down (or up, depending upon whether you started at the head or the throat) so it forms a wide 'U' across the face of the racquet. Holding the cross string there while you pull the excess string through dramatically reduces the risk of friction burn. This technique works very well, but it is easier with softer strings. When pulling a stiffer string like polyester through, you may quickly find that the fingers of the hand holding the string out in a 'U' are getting burned up themselves. To counteract this I'll usually wrap some tape around the pad of my finger to save myself some pain.
If you're not doing so already, you should also try weaving "one ahead." This is another pretty simple technique that can help reduce friction between strings. Simply weave one cross string ahead of the cross string you're about to tension, leaving a loop of string long enough to pull tension on. Not only does this technique reduce friction, it makes the cross strings easier to weave so you can save time while installing cross strings.
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