View Full Version : Temperature affecting grip size

04-28-2005, 02:59 AM
I realise this isnt a strict 'racquets' thread but there seem to be a lot more knowledgeable people who post in this section so I though I might get a more intelligent answer and it might be somewhat informative for anyone looking to make a racquet purchase.

Something Ive never thought of before, when buying a racquet, is the way in which temperature can affect your hand, therefore, your grip. That is, until my girlfriend pointed out that in the hotter months your fingers swell (as she finds when putting on rings) and in the very cold months there is contraction (a shortening).

That made me think, given that I now live in a climate which is either warm or very hot (plus extremely humid) year round, that the grip size I thought to be correct is, most likely, not the right one. I've always used a 4 5/8 grip but have been surprised to find, since shifting to my current location, it no longer felt comfortable whereas a 3/8 grip was far, far more playable (albeit just a touch too small).

Why the discrepancy? In the shop a 3/8 felt too small and a 5/8 felt just right. However, after a set of tennis it was the exact opposite. Is it, as I assume, that in the moderate temperature of the shop the hand has not swollen at all, so the larger grip feels right, whereas when playing the hand swells and the smaller grip becomes the correct size?

Im curious to see what others think as it could well be another thing to take into account (climate we play in) when selecting a racquet but is something we constantly overlook or, more likely, just never think of but could affect our sense of a racquet's playability.

All I do know is that my next racquet will be either a 3/8 or a 1/2 at largest.

Gaines Hillix
04-28-2005, 09:30 AM
That's a new one, in my experience, but what works for you is the best thing to do. Just curious, what kind of grip are you using, leather or synthetic? Do you use an OG? If you select a grip that's a bit too small, you can easily adjust by putting on an OG.

04-28-2005, 07:51 PM

I much prefer to use just a standard leather grip but have used a synthetic replacement at times. Not a big fan of the overgrip at all, dont like the way it feels in my hand and would prefer to just use gauze wrap if I have to use anything.

Yeah, its not something Id ever thought of but I can see that there is logic to it. In heat (not moderate or mild but hot summer, worse when humid) your hand swells so fingers dont spread quite as far around the grip. Of course there is some compensation as, during the course of a match, continual gripping of the racquet will flatten it down a touch which can compensate.

The observation is probably of most use to those of us who are borderline in grip size and use a leather grip.

04-28-2005, 10:53 PM
IMO, may be the leather has swollen due to it absorbing moisture from your hand. Yes, your hand may have swollen too, especially from blood flowing to your hand as you swing the racket.

Anyway, I too am a fan of leather grip. If you really need to increase your grip by a size, try what I've done. It works for me, at least, since I bought two used 4 1/4 PSTour 90 and need to increase the grip to about 4 3/8 (actual inished grip: 4 7/16)

1. To prevent the original leather grip from stretching, slowly remove the original leather.

2. Then I use thin double-sided tape -- about the thickness of scotch tape -- to wrap around the grip WITH NO OVER-LAPS. This first wrap goes in one direction from the butt to the top. Before removing the tape's non-stick protection, press it firmly. Remove the non-stick film and re-apply another layer of the tape, this time in OPPOSITE DIRECTION -- from the top to the butt -- with no over-laps as usual. Remove the non-stick film

3. Use an over-grip that's about 0.8 mm thick and wrap it over -- DON'T PULL TIGHT. There has to be a little over lap of the over-grip about the butt area but after that it will be possible not to over lap the over-grip. If you over lap the grip, the finished grip will be much bigger than it should be.

4. When finished with the over-grip, press and twist (screw) the over-grip a little towards the top to tighten it. May sure it is firm. Don't twist too hard.

4(a). This one is OPTIONAL. Apply another -- just one -- layer of the double-sided tape over the over-grip prior to applying the original leather grip. Do this if your feel the leather grip may not hold tight to the over-grip (under-grip?) below. This will also cause a very slight increase in the finished grip.

5. Apply the original leather grip. DON'T pull tight as you press the grip into "near-original" positions otherwise the leather "dies". Just pull sightly to guide the grip into position. When you finish, the leather grip will be slightly shorter on top than it was before (about 3-4 mm). This is due to the increased grip size. Twist the grip in the same manner mentioned in (4) above.

This method will help you play with leather and comfortable with an "under-grip". It will increase the grip to about one size. You may have to do it twice to get things right (I did!), but I've tried to explain the important parts so it should be fairly failure-proof.

Of course the racket's weight and balance will change a little bit more than using a simple over-grip the usual way, as in my method I use double-sided tapes.

NOTE: It's difficult to increase the grip two sizes. It's possible but (at least for me) the grip became more like a "pipe" than a grip. It was too round to play with.

Sorry for the long post but I hope it helps in some way.

04-28-2005, 11:14 PM
Thanks anirut,

but I think you actually missed the point of my post.

I wasn't asking about making a grip bigger or smaller just commenting on the fact that your hand swells, not due to playing tennis, but due to changes in climate. In swelling it therefore changes the required grip size.

I posted it as we often talk about the most minute detail of racquet science (or psuedo-science) on this board but this (effect of temperature on your hand) is one variable no-one takes in to account.

04-28-2005, 11:37 PM
Hi Andrew,

I'm not sure about hot climate and the swollen hand because in Bangkok it's crazy hot and humid but I don't have that problem with my hand.

Anyway, if such case is true, I think we may discuss a bit about why hot and humid makes the hand swollen? We could use our own hypotheses and logic to explain the phenomenon. This could be helpful to those with this problem.

OK, my hypothesis, hot and humid may cause higher blood pressure thus the hand gets swollen. Also the blood pressure increases from our playing the game. If this hypothesis is true, then players using over grips may not feel the phenomenon because the over grip is softer than leather and thus be able to accommodate the swollen hand.

Please input...

04-28-2005, 11:51 PM
Well i know that after you exercise physically, your feet usually swell up around 5-7% but it does depend on the person. Maybe we can apply this to the hand. And in tennis, we obviously use out hands a lot. That would get the blood pumping into them a lot. As for the weather idea, when its cold, its harder to get the blood flowing as opposed to hotter humid days.

04-28-2005, 11:58 PM
hi guys,
i've heard from my stringer that the proper way to install a leather grip is when it's wet. you should soak the grip and let it expand. install it while damp and as the grip dries it'll tighten itself to the handle really well.

04-29-2005, 12:16 AM
So, the swelling problem, with inputs above, then I think it is caused by two factors: a) the blood from exercise and heat and b) the expansion of the leather grip.

May be, Andrew, if my above hypothesis is right, you may be able to lessen the swollen hand problem by keeping the grip dry as often and as possible while you play. I wouldn't want to suggest you keep an ice bucket to dip your hand in to lower the tempreature. LOL.

04-29-2005, 12:59 AM
Well, swelling of the hand is an actuality and it isn't something we can do anything about. It's just a natural human reaction to activity and temperature change. Also, it isn't just the climatic temperature that causes the swelling. Activity of the hand, as you get when playing tennis, will do the trick.

As muklucke mentions, feet swell, which is the reason why you are told to only buy shoes at the end of the day. You will then have a pair of shoes that will fit perfectly as you become active. Buy them at the beginning of the day, before the feet have swollen, and you'll end up with a pair that pinch and feel about half a size too small.

So, why not apply a similar principle when choosing your grip size?

What Im trying to convey is: if this is a natural physical change then isn't it something we should factor in when choosing our racquet?

I'm sure, for a lot of us, 'feel' and 'touch' aren't major parts of our game. However, for those of us who do consider them important I would think that anything which affects the way in which we 'handle' the racquet needs to be addressed. Consider the importance we place on every other little thing to do with the racquet (just read through this section of the board and you'll see what I mean) in order to get the right 'feel'. Then ask why, when 'feel' comes through the hands, we pay almost no attention to the way in which they are affected during the course of a match.

This isn't really any big deal, its just something someone pointed out to me and I thought ' hm, Ive never considered that but I have noticed something like it during matches, I wonder if others have'.

when it is cold you get a constricting of the extremities (you can even call it 'shrinkage' LOL). The nose, toes and fingers are all extremities and react to the cold by shrinking marginally. So, in those instances your grip size would stay the same but your fingers, wrapped around the grip, would have shrunken marginally. Marginally but still, 'feel' would be affected.