A Primer on Tennis Racket Sizes: Finding the Proper Grip Size
Not only did I used to play tennis competitively, but I also taught tennis at summer kids camps. During that decade, I found many players who were not using the correct racket for them. They were either using the wrong head size, wrong length, wrong weight, or a grip that was too big or too small. Too many people beginning the sport think a tennis racket is one size fits all, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
Standard Tennis Racket Grip Sizes
USA Grip Sizes
European Grip Sizes
Signs Your Grip Size is Too Small
If your grip size is too small, you run the risk of experiencing the following problems:
- The racket may rotate and twist in your hand, giving you less control
- Strained forearm, wrist, and hand muscles from holding onto the grip too tightly
- Development of tennis elbow
Signs Your Grip Size is Too Large
- You strain to keep a proper hold on it.
- It's twists and slips out of your hand.
- Your hand,wrist, and forearm will feel fatigued.
- You may develop tennis elbow or tendinitis.
Finding the Correct Tennis Racket Grip Size
The grip size is a measure of the circumference of the handle, measured approximately 2 to 3 inches above the butt cap. The butt cap is the plastic logo attached to the end of the racket's grip. Standard grips are measured in 1/8" increments beginning at 4" and going up to 4 3/4" in US measurements. These are small increments, I know. But, even the smallest disparity between grip sizes can make a big difference not only in your game, but also in how your arm and hand feel.
Bear in mind, you can always make your grip bigger by adding what's called an overgrip or overwrap. This is the soft, felt-like stretchy tape often made of polyurethane that is wrapped around the racket's handle. Personally, I prefer to always have an overwrap as I find it decreases slippage and absorbs any hand perspiration.
If you are somewhere in the middle of two sizes, always opt for the smaller size. You can't make your grip smaller, but you can make it bigger. You'll increase your grip size by approximately 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch this way, depending upon the thickness of the wrap.
How to Find the Correct Grip Size:
- Pretend like you're shaking hands with the racket
- There should be enough room to insert the index finger on your other hand in between your ring finger and the base of your thumb. The finger should be able to fit comfortably in the gap- you're not going to squeeze it in there.
- The grip should feel comfortable when you hit a ball. You will need to test out the grip and actually hit some balls to know if you've gotten the right grip size. Some people prefer slightly larger grips, while others prefer them somewhat smaller. So, to some extent it's going to come down to personal preference. But, the "index finger method" is an excellent guide.
Alternate Method (not as effective as the index finger method, though)
Personally, it's hard to beat actually gripping the racket in your hand to determine the proper sizing. However, if you're just trying to get a basic idea which grip sizes might be appropriate to home in on before you start racket shopping, this ruler method is a good starting point. You will need a small ruler or measuring tape on hand before you get started.
If you take a look at your hand, you'll notice two major lines running (almost) horizontally across your palm. You will be measuring the distance between this bottom lateral line to the tip of your ring finger. Make sure your fingers are not spread apart and are fully extended.
As I said, this is a good place to get an idea what your grip measurement is. However, I find the process a bit tricky and prone to potential measurement errors. So, use this method if you don't have a racket on hand. Then, make sure you also use the index finger method when you're actually shopping for your racket.
What About Grip Sizing for a Kid's Racket?
Well, the good news here is children's tennis racket grips only come in one size. So, until they're 11 years old, you will be stuck with the same size. You can, of course always add overgrip as your child's hand grows.
Have fun out there!