String Gauge in racket sports represents the thickness of a squash, tennis, or badminton string. Squash strings typically come in 4 different gauges; 16G, 17G, 18G, and 19G, where 16G is the thickest, and 19G is the thinnest. Thicker strings tend to be more durable and last longer. In fact, 16G strings are thick enough to be used as tennis strings. In the same way, 19G is an extremely thin string, meant for those who hit the ball extremely cleanly and never break a string. The most commonly used strings are 17G and 18G. In general, thicker strings give more durability while thinner strings give more performance. By performance I mean power and control since thinner strings are more stretchy and can cut deeper into the ball (recall the trampoline effect from Squash String Tension).
Reasons for Squash String Breakage
Squash strings break for two main reasons:
- Hard miss-hits: This is the most common cause of string breakage and happens in a moment of intensity. A hard swing with the ball near the frame puts massive pressure on the string it hits, causing it to stretch excessively and get pushed into the frame of the racket, where it either gets cut or snaps. As squash players, we want to hit the ball with the center of the racket face, evenly distributing pressure throughout the string bed and preventing premature breakage of our strings.
- Wear and tear: Squash strings have a life. With continuous usage and cutting the ball for various shots, our strings will begin to fray. Squash strings have a multi-filament construction, meaning that a single string is actually a union of several thin fibers twisted together into a strong, flexible, braid like structure. With time and usage, these fibres sheer and fray, and eventually your string bed is literally hanging by a thread. A frayed string bed is a sign of a good player who has been hitting cleanly and putting lots of cut on the ball without breaking a string. Learn how to properly cut the strings of a racket.
General guide for squash string gauges
Thinner squash strings (18G and 19G), although very high performance in terms of power and control, tend to break very easily from a single miss-hit, which is why they are recommended for very advanced and professional players. The deterioration of the string does not effect them much either since they regularly restring their rackets.
A thick string of 16G is meant for beginners and “string breakers”, people who tend to break their strings at least once a month. Restringing your racket can become a costly affair, which is why it is recommended to use a 16 gauge string as your technique and ability to hit the ball cleanly gets better. You are more likely to break the frame of your racket before breaking a 16G string.
For most players, a 17G string is optimal as it provides the best balance of performance and durability. Due to its popular demand, it is produced abundantly and is also reasonably priced. Thinner strings like 18G and 19G are more specialized and tend to be pricier for the pros who are willing to pay for that extra performance.