Choosing the correct grip size for your racket will not only impact your playing style and ability but help prevent serious injury. Your grip is the primary communicator between yourself and your racket.
Picking an appropriately sized grip and maintaining it the correct way will do wonders for the health of your arm and your tennis game.
In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into racket grip sizes.
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What is Grip Size?
A tennis racket’s grip size is the distance around the handle. This includes the grip tape and any overgrips that are on the racket.
Grip sizes start at 4 inches and go up in 1/8 inch increments to 4 3/4 inches. This gives six grip sizes that rackets are sold with, although not all of them are common.
Tennis Racket Grip Size Chart
Manufacturers will specify the racket grip size for the racket. Typically you can find this measurement on the butt of the racket or the throat. This measurement is the handle and the stock grip that comes on the racket when it is sold.
How to Measure Your Grip Size
There are two different methods to measure your grip size. You can use a tennis racket or a ruler. We will go over both ways here.
With a Ruler
If you do not have a selection of tennis rackets to try out, then a ruler will work fine.
To measure your grip size with a ruler, place the ruler on your dominant hand. Measure the distance from the bottom crease on your hand to the end of your ring finger.
With a Tennis Racket
The best way to measure your grip is by using a tennis racket. This method is simple and removes most of the guesswork.
First, hold a tennis racket with your dominant hand in a “handshake” grip. Then try placing your index finger of your other hand in between your ring finger and palm.
If the space is too small to fit your finger, then the grip is too small. If when you place your finger in the space, there is extra room, the grip is too big.
It is common to fall in-between grip sizes. In this case, you should go with the smaller size because it is challenging, if not impossible, to decrease the grip size.
You can, however, increase the racket grip size reasonably quickly, which we will cover below.
Does Grip Size Matter?
Your tennis racket grip is what provides you comfort when holding on to the racket during play. It also can impact the accuracy of your shots.
If your racket grip is too small, then the racket may twist or rotate in your hand when making contact with the ball. Using a small grip forces the player to hold the handle too tightly, making it difficult to achieve the speed, power, and spin on shots that you should be capable of making with the correct equipment.
Straining to keep hold of a too small grip is one of the primary ways to get tennis elbow quickly.
On the other hand, too large of a grip size can be hard to hold. Straining your hand to hold onto an oversized handle causes muscles in the forearms to unnecessarily tense, which can make changing grips between strokes challenging.
Too large of a grip can also restrict racket movement, which can take away from the power of your shots and serve.
How to Change Your Racket’s Grip Size
If you are in between grip sizes or you already own a racket that is the wrong grip size for you, then there is still some hope. You can change the grip size of your racket.
While it is difficult to decrease the grip size, it is not impossible if you only want to reduce the grip size by about 1/16 of an inch. You can swap out or remove the original base grip that came with the racket.
If you are looking to increase the racket grip size, you can accomplish that in two different ways.
- Overgrip. You can add an overgrip to the racket. This will add 1/16 of an inch to the grip size per overgrip.
- Heat shrink sleeve. Adding a heat shrink sleeve will increase the grip size by 1/8 of an inch per sleeve.
One thing to consider when increasing the size of your racket grip is you are also changing the weight of the racket. Depending on how much you increase the grip’s size, you will most likely not be increasing the weight by enough to notice in play.
How Often Should You Change Your Racket Grip?
Many things determine when you should replace your grip. Below are a few of the most common considerations.
- Humidity. Higher humidities can lead to a more significant breakdown of the grip.
- Intensity of Play. If you are playing more intensely, then you should expect to change your grip more often than the guy on the other court practicing serves.
- Sweat. As with humidity, palm sweat will breakdown your racket grip.
Over time as you become a more experienced tennis player, you will tell when a grip needs to be replaced based on look and feel.
Until you can determine based on look and feel, there are some hard and fast rules you can follow.
Replace your racket base grip 1-3 times per year and replace your overgrip every 6-8 hours of play.
What Grip Size Does the Pros Use?
There have been many conversations in recent years regarding Rafael Nadal’s and Roger Federer’s grip sizes.
Nadal uses a 4 ¼ inch grip, while Federer uses a 4 3/8 inch grip. Both professional players use overgrip, which does increase the grip size by about a 1/16 inch, but by the end of a match, this width has gone back down due to wear.
Both players claim that using a smaller grip increases the power of a wrist snap shot. This leads to a general increase in speed, as well as phenomenal movement and kick during serves. At such an advanced level, there are nearly no drawbacks to using a smaller grip.
However, for novice players, this is how bad and potentially dangerous habits are formed. Forehand and backhand shots will take a turn from a nice wrist snap, as we see with the pros, to inevitably being entirely too “wristy,” one of the primary causes of tennis elbow.
The bottom line is that just because a smaller grip works for the professionals like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal does not mean a smaller grip will work for you.
From pain and discomfort to less effective shots, using a tennis racket with the wrong grip size can lead to all sorts of problems. You owe it to yourself to take the time to measure your hand and get fitted correctly to a racket grip size. Trust me, your game will thank you.