First, let’s review the names of the different grip sizes. When you hear the terms “super small” and “x-small” you don’t automatically think of “small” and “large” grips, but that’s how you should think of them. These names come from the “Olden Days” of Racquetball when tennis had a strong influence on the sport. At that time, handle sizes were classified as flared, super small, x-small, small, medium and large. The medium and large grips were huge…like a grip on a tennis racquet. It was like grabbing onto a tree trunk! Over time, Racquetball players moved to the smaller handle sizes because they offered more performance. As a result, small, medium, large and flared size grips went the way of the dinosaurs in the 1980’s. Some Racquetball companies opted to keep the terms “super small” and “x-small” as to not confuse consumers.
Which grip size is best for you? Normally, a smaller grip will allow for faster wrist action, offering the player more power. The downside is that without much palm on the handle, the racquet might have a tendency to twist or turn…..thus causing a loss of control. A larger grip permits more of your hand to come into contact with the racquet, generally allowing for more control and a better feel. The negative is that there may be a lack of racquet head speed which results in less power.
Finding the best grip size for you is truly a personal preference based on feel, but here are a few general rules to follow. First, some grips are more square (rounded), which is my personal preference, and others are more rectangular (flatter edged). When gripping the racquet handle, your ring finger should reach around and slightly touch your palm. Another common way to find your grip is based on your glove size. If you wear a larger sized glove (large or X-large), then you might feel more comfortable with a larger grip. Next, try grasping the racquet handle firmly but not too firm (like you’re peeling a ripe banana), then close your eyes and swing your wrist back and forth with very little or no arm movement. Slowly increase your wrist speed but never to full speed, and get a general overall feel as you experiment with the various grip sizes.
Important note to women and junior players: Be sure that you aren’t sold racquet with a larger grip size by someone not familiar with Racquetball or with a Tennis background.
When selecting a grip size, here are a few things to consider based on my personal experience: A slightly larger handle can help with a sore elbow because you don’t have to grip the handle as tightly. A smaller grip can sometimes help a sore wrist because it is easier to maneuver. Building up your handle will change the feel of the racquet and will increase its overall weight. If you want to increase your grip size, first try wrapping your existing grip with an “over grip” (this is a very thin grip mostly used in Tennis), or replace your existing grip with a slip-on rubber grip and sample the feel. Most rubber grips are thicker than the standard ones that come on your racquet.
Experimenting with these suggestions should help you find a grip size that’s right for you and your game.
Standard grip sizes by measurements: the smaller size is 3-5/8 and the larger sizes are 3-7/8 or 3-15/16.
As always, a special thanks to Dr. “Bud” Muehleisen for his help. He continues to be an incredible resource, and to Rafael Filippini for all his incredible contributions to Racquetball and Paddleball.
Aaron Embry is an AmPro certified Clinician; lives in San Diego, and works the sport full time. He has been competing and coaching for over 30 years. For professional instruction on how to play your best “Inside The Box”, please contact him at 619-339-9979 or www.PlayRBall.com. You will benefit from his experience!