4 Methods To Start Mains – Tennis Stringing
Consistently the most “difficult” part of stringing a racket is tensioning the first main. This is especially true on constant pull machines where you don’t have control over the tensioning mechanism. In the video below you’ll see 4 methods for starting your mains. I personally like method 1 because with that method I’ve found the only potential “burning” of the string occurs where you’ve clamped off with your starting clamp (Assuming your starting clamps aren’t too tight). Now the goal is always to avoid damaging the string but with the first main it’s very difficult to leave the string totally pure. It’s virtually impossible because you’re asking the clamp to do a lot. Luckily in method 1 the area that does get slightly affected ends up around the outside of the racket or just barely coming through at the top or bottom of the racket where in theory the player isn’t striking the ball normally. That being said experiment with different starting techniques to find what works best for you.
Method 1: Double Pull Starting Clamp Assist
Pull both ends of the string at the same time (be careful and make sure you keep pushing the string into the tensioner if you have a “clicker” in the back to hold the string). If you are too cavalier about this you can damage one end of the string.
Once tension is pulled clamp off one side inside the frame as you normally would
On that same side place your starting clamp on the outside of the frame
Biggest positive is reduced string crushing and a high dynamic tension. The downside is that you are pulling the same piece of string through the tension head twice for the first two mains.
Method 2: Double Pull To Set Anchor
Same as method 1 only you don’t use the starting clamp.
The benefit of this method is that you are able to set your anchor string on a straight line through the racket as opposed to the next two methods. The downside is that you are pulling the same piece of string through the tension head twice for the first two mains.
Method 3: Starting Clamp Assist
Set Anchor Clamp as you normally would. Add on starting clamp to the outside of the swivel clamp.
Before pulling side with starting clamp remove starting clamp (I don’t know if that’s a rule it’s just something I do to prevent additional string ghosting).
This method reduces the number of times the string is pulled and the starting clamp is there as extra safety in case the string starts slipping through the swivel clamp.
Method 4: Get Your Clamp Tight
Same as method 3 only no starting clamp for safety.
This is the method you typically use on a drop weight or crank because you can control the speed at which your pulling tension and you’ll know right away if your anchor clamp isn’t set tight enough. On a constant pull machine this method is kind of risky because your clamp needs to be set pretty tight. When you set it pretty tight you’ll see the crushing effect that the clamp has on the string. To get it just right (and it will vary with gauge and material) is like hitting a drop volley that goes back over the net. Requires tremendous feel and just a little bit of luck.
As stated above there is no “perfect” solution to starting mains. There are pros and cons to all these methods but hopefully with one of these 4 methods you’ll find what damages the string the least and produces the highest overall dynamic tension in your frame.