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What is Gutting in Badminton?

I’ll admit, before writing this article I’d never heard of the term “gutting” in Badminton before. Without an explanation, it’s hard to take a guess at what it could mean.

So, what is gutting in Badminton? Gutting is just a Badminton term for restringing your racquet. Often used when buying a new racquet, the seller might ask if you want it “gutted” which means to take the strings out and replace them with your own choice.

So it’s just a term for restringing your racquet. So why might you want to “gut” your racquet? And how often should you gut your racquet?

Gutting/restringing your racquet

So the word gutting is just a Badminton term for restringing. You can have this done when buying a new racquet. Most reputable sellers will offer the option to restring your new racquet with a string of your choice and tension. The factory strings that racquets come with tend to be very basic and not string very highly. For beginners, the factory strings may suffice for a while but better players should definitely have them replaced.

It’s called gutting because you’re essentially removing the insides of the racquet. Grotesque description yes but that’s essentially why.

Gutting your racquet is necessary whenever the strings break or they begin to fray. You can’t play Badminton with a broken string in your racquet. It’s impossible to hit with any consistency and the shuttle could actually go through your racquet!

Strings can snap for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Cold weather. Strings are made to be elastic. If your racquets have been stored in a very cold environment then the strings are going to be cold. The strings are likely to snap when put under pressure as they become harder when cold.
  • Hitting off the sweet spot. When stringing to high tensions, 27-28lbs and over, it’s easy to break a string when hitting the shuttle off the sweet spot. The sweet spot is the optimal spot on the racquet to hit the shuttle. Hitting off the sweet spot puts more pressure on the strings near the edge of the frame. The strings get stretched under more pressure and will eventually give way.
  • Damaged grommets. Grommets are the plastic inserts that sit in the holes that strings pass through. They protect the racquet from the strings digging into it. Grommets can get worn over time as they bear the weight of the tension. If the grommet has split of frayed it will be sharp enough to cut through the string when pressure is applied.
  • General wear and tear and notching. When the same strings have been used for a while they begin to fray. This is through general wear and tear. Depending on the frequency of playing and how you hit the shuttle it might take a while to see strings start to fray. The strings fray because they constantly rub against each other. No matter how tightly the strings are done they will always shift and rub against each other. This natural friction wears out the strings over time.

Restringing a racquet involves taking out all the old string and replacing with new ones. The process of stringing requires a stringing machine stand, the choice of Badminton string and a number of specialised small tools. To learn more about stringing, the equipment needed and how to do it see our full article here. Below is a good video demonstrating how a racquet is restrung.

How often should I restring my racquet?

So what if you don’t manage to break the strings on your racquet? If you’re playing with low tension or using thicker strings they might last you a long time. If you don’t play regularly then the wear and tear won’t happen. People ask this because they can see the strings starting to fray or they feel some of the tension in the strings has been lost.

Strings are elastic and naturally, over time, will lose their tension. The tension the strings are under stretches them and over time they can’t retain their original shape or length. In the trade, this is called string creep. This can be minimised if the string is pre-stretched before stringing the racquet. This ensures any creep the string might have is mostly taken out.

I would always recommend restringing your racquet when it starts to noticeably fray. If the strings are fraying it’s only a matter of time before one shot will snap them.

For beginners and intermediate players, the loss of tension in the strings will mostly go unnoticed. More advanced players, however, will start to notice when the strings lose their tension. Playing with slacker strings then you’re used to can affect your play. The size of the sweet spot will be widened and you’ll have less precise control with your shots. An easy way to test if the string has lost tension is to compare it with sound.

If you take two racquets, strung with the same string and tension, use one to lightly tap the strings of the other one and listen to the sound it makes. When the strings are tight you’ll hear a higher pitch, sharper sound then at a lower tension. Having two strung the same you’ll notice a difference in sound if the one you’re playing with is losing tension.

Why should I change my strings regularly?

We already mentioned that loss of tension over time can affect your Badminton. Why else would you want to change your strings regularly if they aren’t broken?

To try a new kind of string. It’s beneficial as you start to get better at Badminton to try different things. Try different kinds of racquets, shuttles, shoes and strings to see what suits you best. As you evolve as a player the things you used yesterday won’t always best for you tomorrow. As you become a more accomplished player you’ll have found what works for you but even then there is always more to be learned and tried. Different strings have different characteristics and some are better for certain ways of playing than others. To get a full breakdown on selecting the best strings for you see our guide here.

To try and different tension. As well as trying different kinds of strings it’s important bas you get better to test if you get more benefit from a higher tension. Higher tensions give you more precise control when hitting the shuttle but make it harder to generate power for fast shots like smashes. Our stringing guide also covers string tension and the myth of tighter strings mean and bigger smash here.

Where can I get my racquet restrung?

If you have a stringing machine and all the equipment, chances are you already know how to string a racquet. But what if you don’t? It’s best to find someone local and reliable who is trained and has experience.

If you play at a Badminton club, in a league for a team then ask people where they get their racquets strung. Everyone needs them doing at some point and it’s always good to get a recommendation based on experience. Most Badminton clubs have somebody who can string a racquet or know someone who can.

If you can’t get a recommendation from someone or they’re not local to you then Google will be your next best bet. Search for “badminton stringing near me” and if people have a business setup, a website or a sports shop that does stringing then they should turn up in the search. Also, check your national Badminton federation website for a section on accredited stringers. Some federations might have a database list of people who are accredited for stringing.

If you’re struggling to find anything on Badminton specific on Google then try general sports stores or racquet sports stores. For example, some Tennis shops do stringing but the same stringing machine might also be able to string a Badminton racquet. It’s worth visiting to find out.

What is grommet flaring? Grommet flaring is the process of spreading the grommets straight end, the end that is on the inside of the racquet head. Flaring the grommet is usually done for the place where the string is knotted so the knot has somewhere to sit. It’s not recommended for the other grommets as they’ll be difficult to remove once flared.

Should I replace the factory string on my new racquet? I would recommend replacing the factory string for almost everyone. The string and tension racquets come with from the factory are very cheap and not done to a high standard. For an absolute beginner or recreational player, these should suffice.

If you found this article helpful return the favour and share it with a friend. If you feel I’ve missed anything out or have other advice, please leave feedback and share your help with others below. Thanks again for reading.

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Written by Liam Walsh who lives in Manchester, England. Working as a Software Engineer but moonlighting as a dad, Badminton player/coach and creator of BadmintonsBest.

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