Who taught you how to string a racquet?Tim Strawn
IART stringing courses let you learn from the pros
The IART has recently taken on the task of developing online courses. This may not be as exciting as actually gathering in a large group to learn with hands-on demonstrations, but it certainly opens up another avenue for learning. With today’s technological advances, we are able to produce courses that are visually rich with video demonstrations and complete with all of the relevant information needed to master certain skills. So what elements are important in an online learning experience? Number one on the list would be seasoned professionals with proven track records in the industry, and here at IART, we certainly have that covered.
What’s it like to learn from experienced professionals?
The years that saw people from around the world travel to an IART training symposium were really special. When I started this event in 2007, we had 21 people attend. That’s right, only 21 people showed up, and they were anxious to learn from the first-rate group of professionals I had assembled. When the attendees returned home, they hit the message boards of various online organizations, spreading the word about how much they learned and how much they enjoyed their time with us. The following year, I decided to move the event to Orlando, and it quadrupled in size. We had representation from all of the major manufacturers in the industry, and the rest, as they say, is history. Learning from seasoned professionals has its benefits and can hugely impact your future as a racquet stringer. This has been proven over and over again and not just in our industry. It’s a proven formula for a first-class learning environment no matter what you’re learning.
Why is this important?
Let’s use racquet stringing as our example. IART has been committed to teaching people the craft of racquet stringing for over 20 years. Our organization members are seasoned veterans, serving on official stringing teams at world-class events like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, as well as other global tour events. Needless to say, they’ve been in the business for a very long time, long enough that they have learned many of the techniques that make them more than qualified to teach others. I recently asked a few of our global ambassadors who participated in the new Basic Stringing 101 course how long they had been stringing racquets. Their answers of 44, 45 & 46 years surprised even me. I knew they had been in the business for a long time, but I had never asked them just how long. These are exactly the kinds of people with a lot to offer, and their years of experience and willingness to share that experience will positively impact those who choose to take our courses. The first course, Basic Stringing 101, is now available at no cost to premium subscribers at IART. Below are the major contributors to the 101 course and the number of years they’ve been involved in racquet sports.
Where did you learn to string racquets?
I find it interesting that this question is asked so infrequently. All of us who string racquets started at ground zero, and while we each may have taken a different path, there’s one indisputable fact that we all have in common. We started without knowledge of the craft, and we all had the desire to learn. Where you learned to string is not as important as how you learned or, more specifically, who you learned from.
What is an Apprentice?
When you learn a craft today, there’s no comparison to what it was like many years ago. Back in those days, you were fortunate to be hired as an apprentice and worked under a Journeyman’s watchful eye. One definition given for “apprentice” is one who is learning by practical experience under skilled workers, a trade, art, or calling. So, in other words, you had a master by your side who was considered a teacher, one who, at one time in their life, started exactly where you were. They watched you and shared their many years of experience with you in an effort to make you the very best you could be. A reasonable comparison would be to those who attended any one of the 10 IART training symposiums. They were eager to learn and invested their time and financial resources, placing their trust in a lineup of seasoned professionals. There is another thing that often gets overlooked in this scenario. Whenever a journeyman takes on an apprentice, their reputation is at stake. They have made a commitment to the apprentice, and if the apprentice should fail, it becomes a direct reflection on the journeyman; thus, it’s always in the best interest of the journeyman to do his/her utmost to see that their apprentices are successful.
With some basic research, I found that the practice of apprenticeships has been around for some time. In the 18th century B.C., the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi — best known for its “eye for an eye” dictum — required artisans to teach the next generation their crafts. Paul Revere was an early American apprentice, studying the art of silversmithing with his father while, presumably, learning to ride horses. What it boils down to is very simple. An apprenticeship features a learning environment under the supervision of a mentor, along with relevant technical or classroom instruction. In essence, the attendees to any of the IART training symposiums could easily be classified as “Apprentices”.
The mentor has a name, and that name is “Journeyman”.
What is a journeyman?
A journeyman is a person who develops the skills and qualifications necessary to advance from an apprenticeship to higher-level responsibilities in their trade or craft. They have mastered all the necessary skills to perform work projects across various duties within their chosen field of expertise. Therefore, they can now assume the responsibilities required to train apprentices. While journeymen continue gaining skills, credentials, and knowledge to perform major construction and trade jobs, they still work under the supervision of trade masters, executives, directors, and production supervisors.
The IART symposium staff was a “who’s who” of “Trade Masters,” and they played a key role in the event’s ongoing success. We all had a deep commitment to the cause and shared a passion to pass our knowledge on to others. Filling the role of a “Master” was a natural fit for the leaders who took upon themselves the responsibility to make every single person in attendance a better stringer than they were when they first arrived at the event.
The IART stringing courses; Just the ticket if you’re eager to learn
If you’re ready to learn the basics of stringing a tennis racquet, then the IART Basic Stringing 101 course is just for you. Everything you need to get started is covered in 10 modules, beginning with a comprehensive look at stringing machines and the hand tools you’ll need, following through to tying the last knot and straightening the strings. Best of all, it’s free to all premium subscribers to the IART plus, as a premium subscriber, you’ll enjoy nice discounts on all of our upcoming courses as well as unlimited access to all content on the IART website. If you’re not a member yet, we invite you to JOIN US to open up all of the great features the organization has to offer.
My coach taught me how to string while I was in college. He reminded me that it was hard to get good work done, and if I could do it myself, I’d be aware of the results I’d get. Little did I know that stringing would become my profession and that I’d get to meet and work with some of the best players and stringers in the world.
He’s been quite interested in my journey and proud of what I’ve done, and that is a great reward for me.