The Right Grip Size

A little while back, the frame of my racquet cracked and I had to play with a ‘loaner’ for a while. The racquet frame and strings were

Tennis Warehouse
pretty close to what I was used to; but the grip size was significantly smaller … and I liked it.

For years, I have played with a 4 5/8 grip that (in theory) was too large for my hand size. But I liked the feel of the larger size and felt that I handled it OK.

But the loaner racquet had a grip size of 4 3/8 and felt differently in my hand. I felt it played better, giving me more opportunity to wrap my hand around for topspin.

According to the Tennis Warehouse website, “The right grip size makes a huge difference in how a racquet performs. [To measure yours]

“Holding an eastern forehand grip (the palm is placed against the same bevel as the string face), you should be able to fit the index finger of your non-hitting hand in the space between your ring finger and palm. If there isn’t enough room for your index finger, the grip is too small. If there is space between your finger and palm, the grip is too big.

“A too-small grip requires more muscle strength to keep the racquet from twisting in your hand. Prolonged use of a grip that’s too small can contribute to tennis elbow problems. A grip that’s too large inhibits wrist snap on serves, makes changing grips more difficult and also requires more muscle strength. Prolonged use of a grip that’s too big can also contribute to tennis elbow problems.”

Getting extra topspin is exactly the reason Raphael Nadal uses 4 1/4 and many other clay court players use a smaller grip size. While according to other writings on the web, Roger Federer has very large hands; but uses only a 4 3/8 grip size.

So for now, Roger and I have another thing in common (!)… grip size.

6 thoughts on “The Right Grip Size

  1. Hi George, here, at the shop, we recommend a small (pinky) finger space between
    the ring finger and palm (about 1/4″). We used to recommend an index finger space,
    or the largest grip that you could comfortably handle (back then, you didn’t want to be “too wristy” — but “today’s game” involves more racquet head speed, and a smaller grip size allows for more wrist pronation, helping to generate more head speed, and better “snap” on the serve. I like to recommend that the racquet should feel “solid” in your hand, so that you don’t have to strangle the handle to keep it from twisting excessively on off-center hits.

  2. Having started with selling rackets and stringing rackets when I was about 12 in my Dad’s shop in our basement in Dearborn, and that included stringing Hoxie’s steel strung rackets for the Hoxie kids, I have been at it quite a while. When I owned my shop in DC I usually used the index finger method but varied a bit depending on the players ability. If a player was a little wristy, the slightly larger grip would firm up the wrist a bit and give it more control.

    I remember seeing Sherwood Stewart’s grip, and Sherwood was big and had a very big hand, and his fingers touched and I think it may have been a 1/4 but certainly was no larger than a 3/8. One summer before I started my shop, I was working at The Tennis Shop in DC which had been started in 1929 and was THE tennis shop in DC, later becoming Arthur Ashe and Friends, and at that shop we ordered Dunlop Forts probably about 200 at a time and I ordered 18 size 9 frames. Yes, that’s 4 and 9/8 or 5 and 1/8 and I sold them all one summer. We had a number of big guys like Sam Jones of the Celtics and if you can palm a basketball, you can use a 5 1/8 grip!

    Just for informational purposes, I had a large amount to do with string dampeners being what they are today. Fisher rackets had a little rubber device that Stan Smith was using in his rackets. Until then, no one even knew or at least ever thought about the fact that strings vibrated. Someone started selling a rubber grommet, painted gold, in World Tennis magazine and I started buying grommets by the 1000 bag putting a smaller grommet inside the larger one, and put them in every racket that we strung, which was 75 rackets a day.

    When the Prince, Wilson, etc, reps came in, because we had a hitting lane in the lower level, I would show them the difference in their rackets with the dampener in and out. They then went back to their sales meetings and pretty soon all the companies were making their own dampeners.

    The rubber grommets are still one of the best dampeners and the vinyl ones don’t take out as much vibration. The tighter the strings are, the less vibration is noticeable but on loose strings like so many of us seniors use, the vibration dampener lets our brains know when the ball leaves the strings and somehow gives more control than when the strings continue to vibrate and it somehow makes the brain not realize what the racket is doing.

    I was playing a match one time and the dampener flew out and I hit 6 straight serves long and then put the dampener back in and stopped the double faulting. Agassi, with his rubber bands, was one of the first that really made dampeners noticeable.
    Hope this hasn’t bored anyone, or everyone, but I thought it was a fun story. Actually I had customers come in and say their strings were too loose and without their knowing it, while hitting in my hitting lane, I would sneak a dampener in and they would say, oh yeah, this is how I want you to string my racket!

    Have a good day everyone. Fred

  3. fred – tks … i will probably use the dampener info as the basis of another piece!

  4. George: Good stuff particularly with Fred’s comments. I’m playing at the Clem Easton tourney this weekend and just went to check my grip size and both racquets have rubber dampeners. Haven’t resorted to lower string tensions yet(I’m 76) like King Van Nostrom @ 40#’s but may soon. Gene Wheeler

  5. Gene – play well at the tournament … i see that you beat the 1 seeds in dubs and are in the finals today! geo

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