Q: What is "spaghetti stringing?"
Ask the Stringer: What Is Spaghetti Stringing?
A: "Spaghetti stringing" is—in short—a method of stringing in which the main strings and the cross strings are not interwoven. It gained popularity in the late 1970s but was quickly banned by the International Tennis Federation.
True spaghetti-strung racquets often only had a few of the cross strings installed and had two sets of main strings, one on each side. You can think of it like a string sandwich where the main strings are the bread (on the outside on both sides) and the cross strings are the lunch meat (in the middle). During stringing, thin pieces of plastic tubing would be installed around the main strings so they could slide more freely along the cross strings. The final step was to tie all the main strings on one side together at several locations using thin pieces of cord in order to allow all of the main strings to move as one.
So that's the "what." But what about the "why?" Why did this Franken-stringing technique ever gain any popularity? Well, the answer is all about spin. When the strings of a racquet are all interwoven (as all stringbeds must be according to the official rules) there is a fair amount of friction between the mains and crosses. This friction limits how much the strings can move—or "displace"—at ball impact and how quickly they can snap back to their original position. Most of the features of spaghetti stringing are specifically designed to eliminate friction between mains and crosses, thereby allowing maximum string displacement and maximum snap back. The end result was a stringbed that was capable of generating tremendous amounts of spin.
There are a number of other technical resources out there that do a great job of explaining and detailing spaghetti stringing. If you're still interested in getting more information, it's definitely worth checking out physicist Rod Cross' work, the International Tennis Federation's official page, and TENNIS.com's blog post.
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