If you are a longtime tennis player, you are more than familiar with the importance of the racquet grip size; however, you might assume all grips are the same if you are new to the game.
Just as you would not want to hit the courts for an important match after squeezing your size 11 foot into a size 9 tennis shoe, you would not want to play with the wrong grip size on a racquet, either. Just like the right shoe, the right grip provides comfort and also works to prevent injury.
If you want to master the game of tennis, you must have the right equipment to get started. The right grip will make a difference in your performance on the court, and we will walk you through the ins and outs of grip sizes and what you need to know to measure and size correctly.
Why Is Racquet Grip Size Important?
There is a “sweet spot” for grip sizes: a little too big causes problems, a little too small causes problems, and “just right” is what you are aiming for when you use a tennis racquet.
One of the first signals that the racquet grip size is off is that it simply will not be comfortable to play. An ill-fitted grip will make you feel awkward and clumsy. Even worse than the awkwardness is the possibility of injury.
A tennis racquet grip that is too small can cause you to overcompensate by holding it too tightly as you play. This overexertion can then result in painful blisters or unnecessary strain on your arm (this is the part where we break the news to you novices: yes, tennis elbow is real. And it hurts!)
Your performance on the courts will suffer from a too-small grip as the racquet will easily slip out of your hands. This is especially true if you start developing blisters and find it harder to grip without pain.
Racquet grips that are too big present challenges to players as well. Your movement could be restricted by the clumsy fit of something that is simply too large, making it difficult for you to change grips quickly when you need to react. A racquet grip that is too large can also create unnecessary strain on your arm.
How Are Grip Sizes Measured?
Now that you understand just how important it is to get grip size right, we will look at how these measurements work and prepare you for the choices you will make when selecting a racquet.
Where is the Grip Measurement on the Racquet?
You can determine a grip measurement by measuring the circumference around the handle. The smallest grip will be 4 inches, and the largest will be 4 ¾ inches.
At this point, you may be thinking that does not seem like much of a difference. But the seven available grip sizes, starting at 4 inches and moving up in increments of 1/8 inch, are necessary to accommodate the subtle but important size differences for players.
Luckily, you do not have to carry a tape measure every time you go shopping for a racquet: this grip size will be identified on the racquet, either at the very bottom of the handle or at the throat of the frame.
Measuring Your Hand and Selecting Your Size
When it comes to measuring for a racquet grip, there is really no substitute for holding the racquet in your hand.
However, if you want to try to get the exact measurement, you can use this method:
- Look at your dominant hand’s palm and locate the two dominant lines that run horizontally across it.
- With a measuring tape, start at the top of your ring finger and pull it down to the top horizontal line on your palm.
- This measurement should fall somewhere between 4 and 4 ¾ inches, indicating your grip size.
The preferred method involves holding the actual grips in person.
- Hold a racquet with your dominant hand.
- Use your other hand to place your index finger in between your dominant hand fingers and palm.
- Your ideal grip will be the space that is equal to the width of your index finger.
If you are ever in doubt between two grip sizes, it is always best to opt for the smaller one. This is because you can easily increase grip size, but you cannot easily decrease it. Overgrip is a quick and inexpensive fit to increase grip size when needed.
What About Grip Sizes for Kids Racquets?
If you are purchasing a tennis racquet for a child, you will not need to focus on the grip as much as the racquet’s length. There is not much variation in the kids’ grip sizes, and you simply need to focus on the length that will be appropriate for their height. Kids racquets start at 19 inches for the youngest players (ages 4-5) and work up to 26 inches for players 10 and older. If you get the racquet length right for your child, the grip should work as well.
What if I Cannot Decide What Grip Feels Best?
Try to work with a pro shop to let you try some demo racquets before you commit to a tennis racket grip size. This gives you a chance to put the grip to the test on the court; it is one thing to hold a racquet inside an air-conditioned store, standing still.
It is another thing to grip a racquet in the blazing sun during a barnburner match with the neighborhood doubles league. Only you can decide which grip feels best in that scenario and yields the best performance.
Once you find the right tennis grip size, all that it is left to do is get out on the courts, practice that serves, and get ready to dominate your opponents.