Most players underestimate how important your racquet grip is. Let’s take a look at different tennis grip shapes and sizes.
The different tennis grip shapes and sizes influence how comfortable you feel, how relaxed you can hold the racquet, how easy it is for you to find the proper grip for each stroke etc. The grip shape and size is something you definitely need to consider when you are choosing a tennis racquet.
There are a few things to keep in mind:
What is your grip on the forehand (Eastern, Semi-Western, Full Western)?
What is your grip on the backhand (One-handed, Two-handed)?
What is the size of your hand?
For the two-handed backhand, you might want a longer handle and for a Semi-Western forehand, it might be easier to use an older HEAD style rectangular grip (TK76 – TK82 grip pallet).
One easy way to check if you’re using the correct grip size is to use an Eastern grip (index knuckle and heel pad rest on the 3rd bevel). Then use the index finger of your other hand to slide it in-between your ring finger and palm. The best tennis racquet grip size for you will be the one where your index finger fits snugly within this gap. If there is too much room, the grip is too small and if it’s too tight the grip is too large.
Avoid holding the grip too tight, because you might end up with tennis elbow or forearm injury. Too large a grip will also impact how much you can use your wrist or how easily you can move between different grips.
How can I change my grip?
There are many ways to influence the tennis grip shape and size, but it is always easiest if you’re on the smaller side. Most players use an overgrip and that builds up the grip by half a size. Novak Djokovic uses a grip 3 with two overgrips, one with no overlaps, so this is personal to each player what feels right.
You can also adjust the thickness of your grip by replacing the regular (base) grip with a leather grip (generally thinner to help the player feel the grip bevels) or you can add a thicker, more comfortable synthetic grip. The thickness of the different grips should be listed under specifications. Leather grips add more weight to the handle, synthetic grips are more comfortable for the hand.
Some players skip the base grip and use two overgrips to reduce weight, thickness, and feel the bevels more. There is no right or wrong here, but if you are having issues with wrist pain and forearm pain, the grip might be a part of the problem.
You can also change the grip on some racquets by removing the grip pallet and replacing it with a different shape or another size. This is possible on HEAD racquets, Volkl racquets, and ProKennex racquets. If you go to a professional customizer like Ring&Roll or Unstrung Customs, they can do this for you by molding a new pallet or just changing the pallet (Unstrung now offers 3D-printed custom pallets for example).
Different brands, different shapes
If you switch in-between racquets from different brands, you might notice a difference in grip shape and even size. Babolat and Yonex run slightly larger than Wilson and HEAD for example. HEAD used to be more rectangular, but are now making more rounded pallets like Wilson and most other brands. Tecnifibre is still pretty rectangular, same with ProKennex and Volkl. You might love a racquet but can’t switch to it due to that the grip shape feels uncomfortable. If you are really keen to change you might be able to change the grip (see the above section), but many give up and try to find another frame instead.
We are seeing companies adjust their grip shape a bit to accommodate the technical changes in the game. Most players today use the Semi-Western grip, as it is deemed to be the most versatile for handling both high and low balls, flat shots, and topspin-heavy shots.
These are the standard shapes for tennis racquet grips:
The grip shape A is most commonly used and is used by Wilson and HEAD (their new grip shape called TK82S). The top and bottom bevels are a bit longer. Please keep in mind that Angell Tennis calls the flat-topped “A” and the Wilson standard grip shape “B”, which can create some confusion.
Grip shape B in the diagram is called »flat-topped« (TK82 or TK57). It is the traditional HEAD-grip style before they started moving over all their series to the TK82S Speed line shape.
The C-shape is even-sided and is what Prince uses.
The choice is yours
Like I wrote above, there is no right or wrong when it comes to tennis grip shapes and sizes. You need to find what works for you.
Now I am keen to hear, what grip shape, size, and grips (base grip and overgrips) do you use?