Shopping for a new tennis racquet can be a daunting task for those who are looking for the perfect fit. Deciding between all the different racquet models out there takes time, and settling on a specific string in string tension also proves to be a challenge.
Another part of the process is figuring out tennis racquet grip size. For a person to feel comfortable, they want to make sure that they have a racquet that fits in their hand just the right way. How can a person find a group size that works for them? Here is how to do some basic measurements to get an idea.
Measuring Based Off Another Racquet
Most tennis players recommend holding a racquet to get a feel for what certain group sizes are like. After all, this is a game primarily based on feel, so most people will start to determine what works best for them based off of that.
To get a proper measurement, hold the racquet with an eastern forehand grip. This is when the palm is placed directly parallel with the string face, right up against the bevel. Grip the tennis racquet comfortably, much like holding it during a match.
With the four fingers wrapped around the racquet, there should be space for the index finger, on the other hand, to go in between. If there is not enough room, the grip is probably too small. If there is too much space, it is too big.
The advantage of measuring this way is that people can actually feel different grip sizes in their hand. Some people might find themselves in between two grips sizes, and it is very challenging to guess based on measurements which one to go with. When holding two different sizes, people get a much better idea of whether they want to go up or down.
Measuring With a Ruler For The Right Grip Size
Without a racquet, there is still an easy way to take measurements for the right grip size. Use a ruler to take measurements of the hand, going from the bottom lateral crease of the palm to the tip of the ring finger.
This measurement directly translates to grip sizes, as seen below. The common range is 4 inches to 4 3/4 inches, but there are also ways to build up the grip and customize things for unique situations.
- 4″ – #0
- 4 1/8″ – #1
- 4 1/4″ – #2
- 4 3/8″ – #3
- 4 1/2″ – #4
- 4 5/8″ – #5
- 4 3/4″ – #6
Go up a size, or go down?
Tennis players continually find themselves in between two different sizes for a grip, which puts them in a bit of a dilemma. Should they get the bigger grip size so that it does not slip in hand, or build up a smaller grip if necessary?
When in doubt, always go with the smaller option. That is because there are a lot more options to make a grip bigger. Whether it is something as simple as adding an overgrip, or using a sleeve, getting the right size is relatively easy.
While there are ways to shave off part of the grip of a bigger racquet, it takes a lot of time and effort to make the imrpovement. At that point, a lot of people would be better off selling their current racquet and buying a new one with the proper grip size.
Adjust With Overgrips
Just about every professional tennis player uses overgrips, and they have trickled down to the lower levels as well. Having an overgrip on can allow a person to keep a good grip on the racquet by switching them out much more frequently than an entire grip change. Changing the grip on the racquet is not only time-consuming, but expensive. Overgrabs can be purchased in packs that make each one pretty inexpensive.
Overgrips are also used to add to a grip size if the racquet feels a little small. One over grip adds roughly 1/16 of an inch to a grip size when one layer is put on. If wrapped tightly, it can add double the amount, effectively jumping up one grip size. There is also the option of using two overgrips, which is something pros like Rafael Nadal do on tour.
Not only do overgrips help with actual grip size, but it can help cut down on any arm issues a person might have for going with a slightly smaller racquet grip size. One of the issues people find themselves dealing with is the racquet spinning in their hand if the grip is too small. With extra tackiness, the racquet no longer spins in the hand like people think. If you unsure what overgrip to choose, I wrote an article the other day about the best overgrips on the market right now.
Remember to factor in an overgrip before purchasing a racquet. Those who live in warm/humid climates are much more likely to need them, since the grip becomes slippery quickly. Anyone who already has a big grip will be reluctant to add bulk to the grip, so it is another advantage of sizing down.
Heat Shrink Sleeve
Adding a heat shrink sleeve is a more permanent solution to a grip size issue. Most of them measure out to go up one whole grip size. They are easy to put on to any grip, and will last a long time.
A heat shrink sleeve adds a few grams of weight to the handle of the racquet, so when combined with an overgrip, the balance might feel weird to some tennis players. If that becomes a legitimate issue, balance the racquet out by adding a small amount of lead tape to the head of the racquet.
The Overall Shrinking of Grip Sizes
The modern game of tennis has led to a lot of players moving to smaller group sizes than ever before. Find an old tennis racquet, and a lot of the grips will end up feeling pretty thick. A thinner grip allows for a bit more maneuverability, and leads to strokes that are more commonly found in the modern game.
Top players frequently have their racquet specs leaked, and most seem to be very open to going to a smaller grip size as a base. They build it up in a customized way, but smaller is the overwhelming trend. If they were to do a typical measurement, they would technically go up a grip size, but it feels the most comfortable for them.
Warning Signs That a Grip Size Is Too Small
It might not always be apparent to some players that they are using a grip size that is too small for their style of play. If anything below pops up, it could be a signal to look into a different option to use.
Hand Cramping/Tendinitis: A smaller grip forces a player to squeeze their hand or just a little tighter. Over time, this can put additional stress on the hand, forearm, elbow, and other parts of the arm. More chronic issues such as tennis elbow or tendinitis can start to form if this is done too much.
Fatigue: A smaller grip seems like it would theoretically make the racquet feel slightly lighter, but it requires more muscle strength to keep the racquet steady in hand. It is easier to spin around, which forces people to tighten up as well. Players putting in a little more effort for each shot could start to tire faster. That could be the difference between finishing the match strong, and limping to the finish line.
Loopy, High Spin Shots: The modern game of tennis involves a lot of topspin, as the combination of bigger racquets and strings certainly contribute to that. Having loopier shots and a lot of spin with a small grip might not seem like a negative, but it will work against certain types of players. Anyone who hits relatively flat should stay away from small group sizes. It can negatively affect their game, not giving them any type of advantage for them.
Volley Issues: A larger grip tends to make a racquet a bit more stable. That is part of the reason why tennis racquets had larger grip sizes decades ago. There is less serve and volleying these days, so the need for ultimate stability at net is trumped by being able to hit groundstrokes on the baseline.
Warning Signs That a Grip Is Too Big
A big tennis grip in today’s game is usually more of a problem than a small grip. These warning signs could be telling players to look for a different size right away.
Wrist Issues: A larger grip hinders a person’s range of motion with their wrist in tennis. It makes it harder to change grips while in the middle of a point as well, which pushes stress on these highly vulnerable areas. A big grip size can not only hurt the dominant hand, but even the offhand for those who hit a two-handed backhand.
Lack of Racquet Head Speed: A lot of professional tennis players have dropped down in grip size because they are looking for a bit more racquet head speed. Having the ability to take full swings and hit with topspin a little easier certainly helps. Not only is a big tennis grip going to prevent that from happening, but it could put stress on the body if a person pushes it too much.
Stretched Out Fingers: If a person demos a racquet that has a bigger grip size than normal, they usually will heal some soreness in the fingers the next day. This is because the fingers are stretched out more than ever before, and that could lead to some more serious issues down the road. The hand should be in as comfortable a position as possible when using a tennis racquet. Stretching those muscles out too much is not only going to be painful, but it could hinder overall performance.
Final Thoughts On Tennis Grip Sizing
So many people get caught up in the other aspects of a tennis racquet, that they forget to get the right grip size for them. It might not seem like a big deal, but over time, an unfit grip can really start to harm a person if they have to change their strokes in any way.
Even if a person does not get injured by using the wrong grip size, they can still severely affect the players game. Try to demo a few racquets with different groups as a way to really feel the difference. If that is not possible, getting an accurate measurement is a great starting point. Ultimately, if a player feels the most comfortable with a certain size, they can really take things to the next level.