When did you last change your racquet grip?
Thanks to our friends at PDH Sports who have liaised with leading grip provider Technifibre to produce some interesting research from their 'Playlab' research facility. Their most startling finding is that the performance of a grip is reduced by 70% after just 10 hours of play. Put that into context, if you play for 2 to 3 hours a week that means the grip may need replacing on average around every 2 months.
Why is it important?
Well of course we would expect an equipment manufacturer to make this claim, but anyone who has just changed their grip will vouch for the big difference it makes. So why is this important? Even the most hardened of hackers will not hold the racket by the strings or by the frame, the only contact with the racket is through the grip. Therefore, the grip needs to be 'tacky' enough to ensure the racket does not slip, supple enough to allow feel on the shots, yet provide comfort from vibrations and sores/blisters which can be caused sometimes by the bevel wearing through.
So let’s assume we want to replace our decaying grips currently wrapped around the end of the rackets in our bags. The good news is this will not cause you to remortgage the house – think of it as an equivalent cost of buying a nice coffee (a couple of quid for those not familiar with the coffee house culture).
What type of grip should I get?
Grips can be split into two main categories:
(1) Over grips. These are thin layered grips that sit over the top of the main grip. They can be used to build up the size of your grip. Some players don’t use an over grip, whereas others use them to adjust the grip size and/or feel of the racket.
(2) Main grip. This is the main grip that attaches to the bevel on the racket which is much thicker.
A word of caution here though before we get too excited regarding grips. It is crucially important to get the grip size correct, especially for any junior players who are still growing. An incorrect grip size can cause injury which sometimes can become significant. A grip too small or too large will place extra strain on the tendons and muscles in the lower arm and elbow and, often, the infamous 'tennis elbow' can be caused by an incorrect grip size. If in doubt, it is best to seek the advice of a coach or equivalent equipment expert before installing a grip.
How do you choose the correct grip size?
When we're talking about the correct grip size we mean the outline or thickness of the handle. The outline of the handle of a tennis racket can be expressed in inches or millimeters, which then corresponds with a certain grip size. The US and Europe use different size measurements: - in Europe the grip sizes 0 through 5 are used, while in the USA the grip sizes go from 4 inches to 4 5/8 inches.
- The most accurate method to determine the correct grip size of a tennis racket is by measuring the distance between the top of the ring finger of your playing hand and the second handline (see picture below). This length in millimeters then corresponds with the outline of the tennis racket and determines your ideal grip size.
- If there is doubt about the correct grip size to choose for a tennis racket, you are better to pick one grip size too small instead of one too big, since you can always increase a grip size which is too small by one grip size via an overgrip. Decreasing a grip size which is too big is impossible.
- In general you will find the grip size at the bottom of the tennis racket, in the racket butt but bear in mind if there is an overgrip over the standard grip of a tennis racket, the grip size becomes thicker and the original grip size is no longer correct.
Outline in mm Outline in inches (USA) Grip size in Europe 100 – 102 mm 4 0 103 – 105 mm 4 1/8 1 106 – 108 mm 4 2/8 = 4 1/4 2 109 – 111 mm 4 3/8 3 112 – 114 mm 4 4/8 = 4 1/2 4 115 – 117 mm 4 5/8 5
How do I put my new grip on my racquet?
You will recall most likely seeing the pro’s re-grip their racket’s in the change of ends during a match (so in less than 90 seconds) and it really is that simple. Check out this very handy You Tube video clip courtesy of PDH Sports that shows how it is done.