Squash Mad

EXCLUSIVE: Pay a tension – Greg’s amazing racket secret

String expert Joe Magor reveals an astonishing secret about French ace Gregory Gaultier and his rackets
By Joe Magor – Guest Reporter

WORLD number two Gregory Gaultier has been grabbing the headlines recently with a series of career-best performances, taking his place just one spot below the summit of the world rankings, a spot currently occupied by the mercurial Egyptian, Ramy Ashour until Nick Matthew takes over at the top in January.

In recent months, French ace Gaultier has won over many fans with a complete revamp to his game – physically and mentally – leaving many in disbelief and others pointing out that he may actually be getting quicker on court despite being a year older.

As the owner of a racket restringing business, one of the things that amazes me most of all is the reports, Tweets and Facebook messages (media shows no bounds these days) of Gaultier’s purported string tension on his Dunlop rackets.

Normally, squash rackets are strung between 20-32 pounds in tension. The tighter the tension, the better the control on the ball and the looser the tension, the more power you get striking the ball.

From experience, having restrung over 2,500 rackets, 24 lbs is as low as anyone I know has opted for in terms of their racket tension, which is loose and ideal for power but maybe not the best for control.

On the other end of the scale, I have strung rackets at 31lbs, which is tight and optimum for control. Going below 23-24 lbs for a squash racket is relatively unheard of.

Gregory Gaultier has his rackets restrung at 14-16 lbs. And no, that’s not a typo!

The average tension range for a BADMINTON racket is 16lbs to 28lbs, with 16 being the loose end of the scale.

As some of you may or may not know, Gaultier has his racket heavily customized and has the head shaved to remove some of the material to make the frame as light as possible.

This facilitates a faster swing, so presumably the frame might not be able to withstand being strung at higher tensions, but even then 14-16 lbs is incredibly loose!

While we all know Gaultier has no problem hitting the ball phenomenally hard (now you know why) he isn’t exactly lacking in the touch and precision department. And that is what makes it so staggering, the fact that he can achieve such pin-point control at times with such a loose tension!

UK Racket Strings Association founder and stringing guru, Liam Nolan, has strung his rackets before and his comment to the above is:

“Regarding Greg’s 16lbs, I have strung for him for many years, and have no answers other than he has the skills to play with ANY tension.”

I wish I had those skills!

JOE MAGOR is the Kent County Captain, a major event organiser at Canterbury Squash Club, and regularly posts squash videos on YouTube. His racket restringing website is www.cmstringers.com 

Gaultier picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

Posted on December 11, 2013

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6 Comments

  1. paul December 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Are you sure when I spoke to Greg a couple of years ago he told me rackets are strung at 28lbs. 16 seems unbelievable ?

  2. Dave December 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I have one of Greg’s rackets from last year, there is no way the tension is that low.

  3. Joe Magor December 12, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Hi guys,

    I understand your scepticism as I thought it did seem far fetched but Squash Pro Charlie Johnson strung Greg’s rackets at 14 lbs on the 30th of September this year and Professional Racket Re-stringer, Nick Down restrung his rackets at the British Open at the end of May this year. These link may or may not help!

    Nick Down

    https://twitter.com/lozzercozzer/status/337214218740838401/photo/1

    Charlie Johnson

    https://twitter.com/Johnson_Charlie/status/384529866294452225

  4. Nick Down December 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Hi all, yes 16 at BO in Hull and more recently 15 at the Worlds in Manchester, I also saw Charlie’s tweet about 14 and Greg confirmed that, saying it was due to the cold weather in the states at the time. Only difference between Hull and Manchester was the string guage. 1.1 in Hull and 1.2 in Manch. The 1.1 would be slightly stretchier, so not much in it I suppose. (Tecnifibre 305). You should all experiment with tension, I’m trying some lower tensions as a result of Greg, Jury’s out at the moment! Ha Ha.

  5. Dave December 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    If so he must have changed pretty radically from last year!.. there was a post on squash site that said he had his racket strung at 27.5lbs during the british grand prix in Sept 2012.

    I think it was perhaps even posted by Nick ?

    Certainly the racket of his that I have is up around that sort of tension (purely going by feel).

  6. Nick Down December 15, 2013 at 8:45 am

    It may well have been me Dave, I was certainly the stringer at that Grand Prix. I’ll see if I can find the log, but that sounds right. It was the BO at Hull where I first experienced the much lower tension, but Greg had already changed by then. In fact, he had a racket that he liked and we spent some time trying to work out what tension it was at. Bottom line is that can’t really be done, so I strung another and we compared the two and re did it and settled at 16 lbs. he then tested it and then I did a few more once he was happy. It took a few hours to sort out, but that’s what your there for.

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