UKRSA Around the World Pattern
Posted 5th April 2020 (Updated 4th September 2020)
The Around the world (ATW) pattern is a particular method of one-piece stringing used with tennis and squash rackets, where the main strings would naturally finish at the throat and conventional one-piece stringing would necessitate starting the crosses at the bottom. The ATW method ensures the crosses are installed from the top of the frame, as is often required under the racket manufacturer’s warranty, thereby protecting the frame from distortion during the stringing process.
There are numerous variations of the ATW method that have been developed over the years, some more complex than others. The UK Racket Stringers Association (UKRSA) has developed a signature ATW pattern that is both simple to use and incredibly effective. The UKRSA method is explained below, using a Tecnifibre Carboflex 125 Heritage squash racket as an example. The method can be done with a standard set of stringing tools but is easiest with 2 starting clamps.
The racket used in this example has a total of 14 mains and 18 crosses. In the steps that follow, shorthand notation is applied; the mains on each side of the racket are numbered 1 to 7 starting from the centre, with the prefix LM/RM referring to left or right main.
- Mount the racket in the machine as normal. In this example, the left side of the racket is designated as the short side (SS) and the right side of the racket is designated as the long side (LS).
- Measure and cut the string required as normal, but when installing the centre mains leave enough string on to the SS to cover half of the mains plus one additional cross. Depending on the particular racket stringing pattern, more crosses may be added to the short side (this is explained later), but for this particular racket just one is required.
- Install the mains as normal, but omit the SS outer main (LM7) and LS outer main (RM7) so that the ends are left at the head of the racket. Secure RM6 at the head with the right-side machine clamp as normal, but secure LM6 at the head with a starting clamp. Wrap the surplus SS string around the starting clamp to keep it out of way during the next steps.
- Using the string from RM6, start to install the crosses from the head, skipping the top cross. Leave the starting clamp on LM6 and use the two machine clamps as normal to hold each cross as you work your way down the racket.
- Continue to install the crosses down from the head, going over to the left side and returning to the right side. Once there is one cross remaining, tension and clamp the second to last cross and use the remaining LS string to weave the missing RM7. The bottom cross will be strung later using the SS string.
- Tension RM7, clamping at the head with a second starting clamp. Some stringers may opt for an additional 10% on the set tension, to overcome the increased friction on the string due to the hard weave.
- Pull tension again on LM6, then remove the starting clamp and clamp the same main at the head with the left-side machine clamp.
- Weave LM7, tension (with the additional 10% if required) and clamp with the left-side machine clamp. Then use the remaining SS string to install the missing crosses before tying off at the throat.
- Re-tension RM7, remove the starting clamp and clamp with the right-side machine clamp. Install the missing top cross and tie off.
Planning the Pattern
Aesthetics often dictate the exact specifications of an ATW pattern. In general, the aim is to use a pattern that makes the runs on the outside of the frame as short as possible. This often requires some planning to decide how you will proceed in order to have best results. With the UKRSA pattern, before starting the mains it is necessary to determine the number of crosses to be done with the short side string. Generally, this is either 1, 2 or 3 crosses, but changes between different racket models and grommet configurations. However, there are some rules that can always be followed:
- If the total number of crosses is odd, leave either 0 or 2 crosses;
- If the total number of crosses is even, leave either 1 or 3 crosses.
The above are dependent on the following additional rules:
- The direction of the weave of the last long side (LS) cross should be towards the long side of the racket (i.e. the cross finishes on the long side);
- The final LS cross should enter a grommet either directly above or below the outer LS main.
Other ATW Patterns
There are many versions of the ATW pattern, most of which are either flawed, unnecessarily complicated or not very effective. The most common reason for the poor quality is the pattern's failure to get the same dynamic tension on corresponding mains, which is essential for uniform string bed tension. The advantage of the UKRSA pattern is that both outer mains are tensioned through the same number of crosses, so have the same dynamic tension. Both outer mains also run into a cross, rather than immediately into a knot, meaning they are unlikely to lose tension from tying-off.
Some ATW variations require installing the bottom cross early on, before the other crosses are installed. These patterns are often referred to as box patterns. The Wilson ATW pattern, for example, involves tying-off the second to last main on the short side at the top. The outer long side main is strung as normal, finishing at the throat, which then puts in the bottom cross at the throat and continues with the missing main on the short side. The rest of the crosses are then strung from the top down.
The disadvantage of these box patterns is that the top and bottom crosses are weaved out of order, making it easy to misweave. Rather than having alternating weaves across the whole string bed, it is possible to end up with a repeated weave at the throat if the crosses are not carefully counted. With the UKRSA pattern, this problem is avoided as the short side main does not finish off the bottom crosses until everything else is completed. This also avoids a hard weave for the second to last cross (where cross strings are already tensioned above and below), which helps to alleviate friction burns and notching.