If you’re considering changing tennis racquets or you’re just about to choose a new racquet, it’s very important that you choose the right grip size.
The tennis racquet grip size is the measurement of the thickness, perimeter, outline or circumference of the handle which is usually measured 2½” above the butt cap. Grip sizes in the United States usually range from 4” (101.6 mm) to 4¾” (123 mm). In Europe, tennis racquet grip size is typically rated from 0 to 5.
Tennis racquet grip size has a huge impact on how you play and perform on the court and using the wrong grip size can have adverse consequences on your entire game. It can also lead to irritation, poor performance and even injuries to your wrist, elbow or hand.
How is tennis racquet grip size measured?
There are two very simple ways to measure grip size:
- Index finger test
Hold a tennis racquet using the eastern forehand grip. Make sure that your fingers are wrapped comfortably around the racquet handle. Take your non-hitting hand and try to fit your index finger in the space between your palm and ring finger. Your index finger should fit between your ring finger and palm.
If your index finger does not fit in the space, the grip is too small. If there’s still some space between your palm and finger, the grip is too big and you should try smaller sizes. A grip that is too small generally requires more effort and muscle strength to prevent the tennis racquet from twisting uncomfortably in your hand and this can cause tennis elbow problems. On the other hand, a grip that is too large can inhibit wrist snap on your serves and this makes it more difficult to change grips.
Remember, it’s better to go with a smaller grip size than a large one because you can make a grip larger using heat shrink sleeves and overwraps. However, it’s impossible to reduce handle size on most tennis racquets. A typical heat shrink sleeve increases grip size by 1/8” and an overwrap increases grip size by 1/16”. Both methods increase the overall weight of the racquet by 7 – 16 grams.
- Ruler test
If you don’t have a tennis racquet in your house already, you can simply use a ruler or tape measure to measure your hand.
Lay your dominant playing hand out flat with your fingers fully extended. Align your ruler with your hand until its parallel with your ring finger. One end of the ruler should be in line with the bottom of your palm’s middle (or second) crease. Measure the length between the bottom lateral palm crease and the tip of your ring finger. Round off the length to the nearest 8th of an inch.
Your tennis racquet grip size should fall between 4” and 4-5/8”. The ruler test helps you find your grip size even without a tennis racket. However, it’s essential to use the index finger test when shopping for a tennis racquet just to make sure.
Importance of choosing the right tennis racquet grip size
The muscles in our forearms are mainly responsible for our grip and trying to grip either a very small or very large object tires those muscles out quickly. With a small grip size, you have to grip the racquet harder to prevent it from twisting around in your hands especially on off-center hits. This tires out your forearms rapidly and you end up tiring out faster than you normally would.
The small grip also causes tension in your forearm muscles because your entire forearm is forced to stiffen up in order to grip the tennis racquet. Remember, if the grip size is too small, your arm, wrist, and hand will be forced to expend extra energy in order to squeeze the handle and keep the tennis racquet firmly in place.
Moreover, a grip that is too small might slip from your hand frequently which can be very frustrating especially during a competitive game or match. Therefore, you should avoid using a grip size that is too small at all costs because it’s not only uncomfortable but prolonged use can also lead to tennis elbow problems.
If the grip is too large, you’ll be unable to comfortably get a handle on your tennis racquet.A racquet with a larger grip requires more energy to use and it will feel as if the racquet is controlling your hand rather than you controlling the tennis racquet.
Using a racquet with a larger grip size can lead to several problems in your game such as executing a serve poorly and can lead to problems when changing grips quickly or mid-way through a match or rally. A large grip also makes it difficult for you to snap your wrist when hitting an overhead or serving because it restricts normal movement.
Therefore, it’s very important to choose the perfect grip size in order to avoid these problems which might have a negative impact on your entire game. If the measurement falls between grip sizes, you should always use the smaller size because it’s easier to increase the size of the handle than to decrease it.
For instance, if your grip size is 4-7/16” you can try a 4-3/8” grip and simply add an overwrap of heat shrink sleeve if desired. Look for a grip size that prevents undue stress on your joints and muscles, feel comfortable and allows for proper movement and range of motion.
Although there are no rules on grips, the measuring techniques outlined in this guide can help you determine the perfect tennis racquet grip size to use.
The bottom line
It’s recommended that you also consider the type of forehand you use. Continental or Eastern forehand grips usually have less distance to travel when you want to switch from forehand to backhand and vice versa. Therefore, you can choose a slightly larger grip size.
However, if you’re using a Western or Semi-Western forehand grip, then choosing a smaller grip size might be more appropriate because the distance required to change between strokes is usually greater and the smaller grip size makes this quicker and easier.
It’s also important to replace your tennis racquet grip regularly because a fresh grip that is properly wrapped provides you with increased confidence and better racquet control.
There are numerous problems that using an improper grip can cause, including discomfort, poor play, tennis elbow, and overcompensating. This is why you should experiment with different tennis racquets to find the grip size that suits you the best.