Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Get a Grip: Making Your Tennis Better Through Proper Grip Maintenance
With all the attention given to high-tech frame designs and the latest tour string
trends, tennis players have, for years, shortchanged one of the most important parts of their racquets: the grip. By understanding what it can do for you and how to choose them correctly, you can make a major impact on your game and help prevent injury.

Why Care?

Why should you care about your grip or its size? It’s the main line of
communication between you and your racquet, for one, and it has a great deal to say about the health of you arm, for another. Picking properly, and maintaining your choices, should be of vital importance.

Not Created Equal

Almost every replacement grip made today has a polyurethane outer layer,
providing color and tackiness (and possibly a raised rib or other texture), and a foam inner layer with padding and moisture absorption properties. Where they part company is how, and in what amounts, these details are executed.
Chart #1 shows the bare handle sizes of many different racquets, along with the
size stated on the frame. As you can see, not every 4 3/8 grip measures the same
underneath: the remaining size is taken up by the grip. Chart #2 shows the “build-up effect” of several popular replacement grips. Choose your replacement grips carefully, and you’ll keep the performance characteristics you desire.

Chart 1: Bare handle sizes of several popular racquets, in inches
Brand Model Grip Size Bare Handle Size
Babolat Pure Drive MP 4 1/2 4 1/4
Dunlop Revelation Tour MP 4 1/2 4 1/4
Head Flexpoint 4 4 3/8 4
FXP Rad Team 4 3/8 4 1/16
FP Rad Tour 4 1/2 4 1/4
i.X6 OS 4 3/8 4 1/16
MicroGEL Extreme4 3/8 4 1/16
Ti.Laser 4 1/4 4
Ti.S5 4 1/2 4 3/16
Ti.S6 4 3/8 4 1/8
Prince More Control DB 4 3/8 4
O3 Hybrid Hornet4 3/8 4 1/16
O3 Hybrid Shark 4 3/8 4
Shark DB OS 4 3/8 4 1/16
Tour Diablo XP 4 5/8 4 5/16
Tour NXGraphite 4 1/2 4 5/16
TT Scream OS 4 1/4 3 15/16
Pro-Kennex Ionic Ki-15 4 5/8 4 5/16
Ionic Ki-30 OS 4 1/2 4 1/4
Kinetic Pro 5g 4 5/8 4 5/16
Laver Heritage 4 1/2 4 1/8
Volkl C9 Pro 4 3/8 4 1/8
Wilson HyperHammer 6.3 4 5/8 4 3/8
Hyper PS 6.1 4 5/8 4 5/16
Hyper PS 6.5 4 5/8 4 3/8
[K]Four 105 4 1/2 4 3/16
[K]Five 108 4 1/2 4 1/4
n1 4 1/4 3 15/16
4 3/8 4
nsixone 95 4 1/4 4
4 3/8 4 1/16
nTour 95 4 1/4 4
4 1/2 4 1/4
Yonex SRQ600 Ti Long 4 3/8 4 1/8
Ultimum RQTi250 4 3/8 4 1/8

Chart 2: Handle build-up effect of several popular replacement grips, in inches
Brand Model Build-up Effect
Babolat Air Touch 1/2"
Perfcushion 3/8"
Syntec 3/8"
Gamma Hi-Tech 5/16"
Hi-Tech Gel 3/8"
Gamma Pro Lite 5/16"
Gosen MG-20 3/16"
Head Hydrosorb 3/8"
Prince Air Cushion Fit 7/16"
DuraPerf Contour3/8"
DuraPro+ 3/8"
DuraSoft + 1/2"
Duratac 5/16"
Wilson [K]Grip 3/8"
[K]ontrol 1/4"
Micro Dry Comf 7/16"
Micro Dry Feel 3/8"
Micro Dry Max 5/16"
Micro Dry Touch 3/8"
Sponge 5/16"

Measure Twice; Cut Once

To determine your proper grip size, place a ruler on the palm of your racquet
hand (right, if you’re right-handed), on the lower crease across the middle of the palm, and measure the distance from that crease to the end of your ring finger. Then, see if your racquet’s grip size matches. If you determine your grip size is incorrect, before running off to thepro shop, see if your current replacement grip is still in good working order, or if some simple changes could save you from buying a new stick.
Months or years of use will compress the padded layer of any grip. The grip isn’t good just because the outer layer isn’t worn off (using an overgrip doesn’t help; see below). After using a measuring tape to determine your racquet’s grip size, see if it matches the size noted on the shaft (or under the grip). You may only need to install a new grip. Even if it’s still off, there are ways to fix it without starting over.

Quick Fixes

Before discussing how to change a grip’s size, perhaps it would be good to explain why it may need to be done. If your racquet’s grip is the wrong size, either from wear or improper fitting, it forces the smaller muscles of the forearm to work harder to grip the handle. These smaller muscles won’t react kindly to the stress, and an injury can result.
If your grip is improperly sized, there are 3 simple ways to change it.
Overgrips are the cheapest and easiest way to add size. Thin overgrips will add
very little to grip size, but may be enough if you’re close. Thicker, cloth-style overgrips like Tourna-Grip can add almost one full handle size. A problem with thicker overgrips is their “rounding” effect: you will lose some feel for the bevels on the handle, which could hinder grip changes. Thicker overgrips can also add up to ½ oz. to racquet weight.
It may be quite easy to change your grip size by selecting a grip that is thicker or thinner than your current one. As Chart #1 shows, grip build-up effects can vary from ¼” to 9/16”, meaning you could change handle size by as much as 5/16” (two and one half sizes) by simply changing grips. This would have a minimal change in handle shape and racquet weight. However, make sure you like the resulting feel and shock absorption qualities.
Heat shrink sleeves let you control the amount of size increase and maintain handle shape. Most sleeves add one full size; some only ½ size. Their complete adherence to the handle maintains the bevels for sure grip changes although they, like thick overgips, can add up to ½ oz. to overall racquet weight. These sleeves should be installed by a professional racquet technician.

Myth Busted

Let’s take some time now to dispel the biggest “tennis myth” to come along in
years: “I don’t need to change my grip; I use an overgrip”.
Every time you swing your racquet, your hand or hands squeeze down on the grip,
compressing its padding. Initially, this is imperceptible. However, over a period of time, this compression reduces handle size and lessens shock absorption. Overgips do nothing to prevent this. Replacing an old grip with a new one of the same model can regain as much as one full grip size.
To ensure yourself of proper grip size, replace your grip at least twice a year, and preferably with every stringing, even if you use an overgrip.


Most tennis players never think about the grips on their racquets. Making sure your grip size is correct, making changes as needed, and exercising proper maintenance of the grip, can make stroke production easier, ease or eliminate arm problems, and give you the upper hand in your matches. So, “get a grip” on your racquet today!

1 comment:

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