SHRINKING GRIPS of modern day player from TENNIS magazine. Don't get it???

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Fedace, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    New article from Tennis states modern day pros are all going to smaller grips than they used to in the old days. Why ? It is apparently easier to put topspin on the ball with smaller grips. I don't get this since i use much larger grip size than i should and i find it easier to put topspin with bigger grip. What is physics behind this ? Does anyone know ? Why is it easier to put more topspin with smaller grips ?:confused:














    The Incredible Shrinking Grip

    As racquet handles get smaller, spin gets bigger.

    By Bill Gray

    Get a grip on this: Racquet handles are downsizing faster than General Motors among both pros and recreational players.

    The tree-trunk grips of the Boris Becker (4 5/8 inches) and Monica Seles (4 1/2) era are out. Thin is in.

    For example, according to Prince, the average grip size for racquets bought by recreational players has plummeted since 1980, when 58 percent of the company’s racquets sold came with either 4 1/2- or 4 5/8-inch grips. Now 69 percent are either 4 1/4 or 4 3/8, with only 5 percent of grips as large as 4 5/8. Head reports that 4 1/2-inch grips have been shrinking in popularity, so it now produces about the same number of 4 1/4- as 4 1/2-inch grips.

    “It’s been a dramatic shift to smaller sizes,” says John McBride, who has worked at Prince for more than 30 years, including 17 years as the company’s purchasing manager.

    The reason for the change? Thinner grips make it easier to play in today’s wild-Western forehand, open-stance, wristy style. Rafael Nadal has become the poster player of the skinny gripster set with his 4 1/4 grip, which allows him to snap his wrists into his ground strokes with more ferocity than Alex Rodriguez smacking a home run.

    “Players like the thin grips because they can come over the ball much more and whip it,” says Roman Prokes, owner of **** Tennis in New York City and stringer to many pro players.

    Wilson and Yonex estimate that almost two-thirds of their male pro players are opting for 4 3/8-inch grips these days, while the majority of women who use Babolat frames are going for 4 1/4-inch grips.

    “No question, the trend to smaller grips is real,” says Rick Macci, who has coached Jennifer Capriati and Venus and Serena Williams. “The best of the best are using them and there’s been a trickle-down effect to recreational players.”

    If you’ve got the skill to generate fast racquethead speed, a smaller grip might be for you. “It increases the whip in the racquet head, and allows you to wrap the heel of your hand below the handle to create more snap and speed on the serve,” Macci says.

    Back in the day, thin grips didn’t make any sense. The heavy and clunky wooden clubs of yore required you to use the biggest grip you could hold to lock your wrist in place and prevent the racquet from twisting in your hand when you made contact outside of the small sweet spot.

    “Trying to generate spin with those old racquets was practically impossible, like trying to swing a rock with a rope,” says TENNIS racquet adviser Bruce Levine. “Now frames are lighter and more aerodynamic, with open string patterns that put more grab on the ball, making it easy for just about anybody to generate spin.”

    And today’s smaller grips make it even easier, helping players put action on the ball with their wrists.

    Who has gone the lowest so far on tour? France’s Marion Bartoli plays with a light Prince Speedport Red with an open string pattern and—ready for this—a 4-inch grip, believed to be the thinnest handle used by a pro.
     
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  2. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    I use a tiny grip since I'm a weak little boy. Big grip makes the racket grip-heavy and I don't like that.
     
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  3. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    but i think that is just a feeling though. Bigger grips doesn't really make the racket heavy. it just makes it feel like it is heavy. but why is that ? why do we get that feeling with bigger grips ????
     
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  4. Claudius

    Claudius Professional

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    Smaller grips allow for greater racquet head speed.
     
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  5. LanEvo

    LanEvo Hall of Fame

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    i use a 4 5/8 and it feels fine, but yea i read that article as well
     
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  6. LanEvo

    LanEvo Hall of Fame

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    u know i never knew that some WTA girls used a 4 even, and RF only uses a 4 3/8
     
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  7. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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  8. TheSubdude

    TheSubdude Rookie

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    A smaller grip helps the wrist stay looser. The wrist is the main creator of topspin.

    I'm 6'4" with matching hands and use a 3/8 grip. You should see the topspin I can put on a ball.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2009
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  9. ronalditop

    ronalditop Hall of Fame

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    smaller grips allows you to use heavy racquets and still keep good maneuverability, since you still can swing them fast.
     
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  10. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    Yes but isn't there a disadvantage to small grips with heavy rackets like Racket Twisting on impact ?? especially with off center impacts. I guess the pros hit the ball on the middle of the racket all the time but amateurs it is a different matter.
     
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  11. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Interesting read and posts above....

    Note that part of the "trend" towards reduced grip size observed at the recreational level could also be due to the following:

    1. Greater use of overgrips today,

    2. Resale - You can easily increase grip size so a 4 1/2 grip has a greater market than a 4 5/8 grip.
     
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  12. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    damn, i hate those magazines, so expensive...and thin.
     
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  13. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I use 3/8ths and am really contemplating going smaller. Is it a PITA to have your grips resized smaller? I have modern racquets, not sure if that makes a difference.
     
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  14. yellowoctopus

    yellowoctopus Professional

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    I made a switch to a smaller grip size (L2 from L3) a couple of years ago and remain happy with the decision. The smaller grip feels more manuverable and enables me to be more aware of the subtle variations on my forehand grip, producing slightly different shot on each variation. With the new grip, I've also moved to an eastern backhand grip for my single-handed backhand--I now generate more spin on this side.

    In all, I don't think the smaller grip directly add more topspin to my game. Instead, I believe it allows me to feel the difference in the subtle variation of my grips, which added more dimension to my strokes.
     
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  15. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    One thing i disagree with is that i really think for me, the bigger grip makes it easier to find the edges in the grip so i can feel the edges better. but i can tell that it takes longer to switch grips. This is not a problem with guys that hit with average speed but when you face a Big hitter with Big serves and groundies, i did find it a bit difficult to switch grips very Quickly....:?
     
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  16. firstblud

    firstblud Professional

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    i'm confused now... i use a 4 1/2 grip size... maybe i should downsize lol

    i do feel that my grip is tiring after a while of hitting
     
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  17. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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    I hate to tell you this, but Pros hit their best shots below the sweet spot, nearer the trailing edge of the racket. This has been taught by Oscar Wegner for years, that with todays stronger rackets, you try to hit the ball below the sweet spot, and because all great players hold the racket as loose as possible, whether amateur or pro, the racket twists or flutters per the pic below (I have dozens of pics like this, but this is first one with the ball on the racket) a lot.

    Gray was wrong about wooden rackets not being effective with smaller grips also. Wimbledon just had Drysdale play Gilbert and they talked about a study in which great players hit and served with the wooden rackets and on the serve, there was only 3 mph difference, and not much difference on all the shots, so don't believe all this excuse stuff you see tossed about about wooden rackets being so different. Today's power is generated with any racket by pulling across the ball after finding it slowly. Only difference between wood and rackets of today was with the wood rackets, you had to use the sweet spot more. I teach my students to not hit in the sweet spot with great results because the pros hit better when they hit below it also.

    At the Australian Open this year in the super slo mo of Verdasco with Nadal, nearly every forehand shot showed the ball below the sweet spot when it hit the strings. Cahill and Carillo didn't have a clue as to why, only Cliff Drysdale did, and that's because he's a big fan of Oscar's MTM which adovcates such. The power of the racket is found in the butt and the edge, but for now, know that you will hit your best shots and it relieves tension on the arm when you hit your FH nearer the trailing edge below the sweet spot. I can post pics if you want to see it, but it happens a lot if you look for it and you can see it on this one tennisone.com video of Oscar Wegner hitting with Randy Ardenfriend.

    http://www.tennisonevideonetwork.com/view_video.php?viewkey=27ad868d138f2b4fdd6f

    I posted this in the FH section but check it out.

    http://wwwmoderntennis.com/uploads/images/QuerreyFHclosed.jpg

    The above happens more than you think. Here is his BH and notice where he contacts the ball. Pros really hit below the sweet spot on their FHs as much as possible.
     
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  18. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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    oops, didn't put the links in correctly. Here are the pics.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. plowmanjoe

    plowmanjoe Rookie

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    wow, what's going on in that forehand pic?
     
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  20. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    He is hitting a reverse topspin slice forehand. made famouse by Sam Querry. What grip size is that ??
     
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  21. damazing

    damazing Rookie

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    I have one aerogel smoke racquet at 4 5/8 and one at a little more than 4 1/2 (the store didn't have another aerogel smoke racquet at 4 5/8 so tried to build it up for me.)

    I can play for a long time with the larger grip racquet, but playing with the smaller one I tend to grip it tighter and can only last 2-3 sets.

    I think the reason I grip it tighter is that when I serve and volley, if I don't grip it tight throughout I tend to shank the volley at net. Holding it tight throughout the point I'm able to make clean volleys.
     
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  22. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Agree completely...

    ...I was using a 5/8, and my coach asked me to try a 3/8, because he felt that the handle would sit more comfortable in my hand and I could more easily feel the racket and manipulate it the way I wanted. Worked for me, and yes, it allowed me to get more spin, which I wanted, but as yellowoctopus says, it didn't automatically give me more spin...it just gave me a better interface with the racket to do so.

    But that's my story, and your mileage may vary. Best way to find out? Go get some demo rackets with smaller grips, in a couple or three different sizes, and experiment...
     
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  23. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    I am glad it worked for you. but what do you think disadvantages are for smaller grips ?? i heard some people say it isn't as good for volleying...??:confused:
     
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  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Personally, I like smaller grips for topspin groundies with pace, spin, and power.
    But I like bigger grips for volleying, seems serving makes little difference, and for blocking hard first flat serves, bigger grips.
    So, 5/8th for me, since it's the hard hitters I need to play well against, and the softballers I'm not worried about.
    Yes, softballers can beat me too, but really, I make the mistakes. Hardhitters can beat me by hitting forcing shots and winners, so they actually REALLY beat me, not make me lose interest and walkabout...:oops:
     
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  25. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Once again...


    ...I think everyone's mileage is going to vary. For me, a smaller grip worked out better all the way around. For me, smaller grips gave me more feel on my volleys...but I have a soft feel and a soft grip on my volleys, which seems to work well with a smaller grip. It seems like I can have more feel on the serve, which helps my variety...as in, I can hit a wide slice, a kick to the backhand, or a body serve more easily with a smaller grip because I can better feel the subtle variations in the stroke with a smaller grip. I like a smaller grip size on the return because I can more quickly make whatever adjustments I need to to return a difficult serve.

    So I'd say just try some different grip sizes and see what it does for you. It's kind of what I generally say to people who are trying to improve or change their games. Which is, try changing your gear and see if it leads you down the path you want to go. Try a different string, a different string tension, demo some different rackets that differ radically from what you're using. For example, when I went down in grip size to a 3/8 three summers ago, my coach also had me go from a 100 sq. in racket to a Head LiquidMetal Agassi Radical OS, which is 107 sq. inches, because he thought it might help me to get more spin, which I needed...I was hitting way too flat. I've since come back down to 102 sq. inches, but as a learning tool for where I was then, going to a bigger head size was the right move. The Agassi Radical also has a 16 x 19 "open" string pattern, which I feel like is more conducive to spin. I had been using an 18 x 20 in my 100 sq. in racket.

    You can also play around with racket weights. I used to use a fairly heavy racket, as I get older, I've gone to lighter rackets because I feel like I can accelerate the racket through the shot better...I currently play with a Head M2, which is around 9.7 ounces, I think, with some lead on the bottom of the bow to give it a touch more mass...
     
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  26. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    What the heck is a reverse topspin slice??? Where can I see a video of this?
     
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  27. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    I believe Fedace was pulling your leg.

    There is no way that shot by Querrey is clearing the net. You can't lift the tennis ball with the racquet face fully closed (as shown in the above pic).

    That looks like a mishit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
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  28. Jagman

    Jagman Rookie

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    A Little Bit of Truth in Everything Probably

    I saw Bill Gray's "articlet" and enjoyed it, even though it was a bit light on substance. I ponder the question of grip size from time to time myself.

    I normally use a 4-5/8 grip. However, I had the opportunity to pick up a few racquets at a deep discount when a local tennis shop closed. All are 4-3/8 grip size.

    With an overgrip, I've found that I quite like the feeling of hitting a decent player's frame --- like a K90, K95, or A200 --- with a smaller grip. I thought that I got a bit more action on the serve. While I didn't have the impression that a smaller grip necessarily aided in the development of topspin on groundstrokes, I did find it easier to maintain a loose grip with sweaty hands in high humidity. I find my normal grip to be more prone to slippage under those conditions, causing me to tighten up to compensate. I liked that aspect of the smaller grip very much. I didn't find volleys to be adversely affected at all.

    I'll agree with jrod that using a comfy overgrip (I use supergrap) is part of the equation. With the overgrip, actual grip size on the 4-3/8 was probably closer to 4-1/2. Going up or down 1/4" in grip size, while noticeable, probably isn't that big a deal in terms of control.

    I do think that smaller grips go hand-in-hand with the modern technique. There seems to be not only more tolerance for having a wristy action amongst instructors, some seem to actually encourage it. In the old days, you locked the wrist back and forgot about it. In fact, everything but the serve was facilitated by a locked wrist.

    I'd take issue with Bruce Levine's statement in the article, to the effect that "... trying to generate spin with those old racquets was practically impossible ... " in trying to explain the larger grips of yore. The old wood frames could turn out spin just fine, thank you very much. Except for some South American and European clay court specialists, that simply wasn't the style of play for that era.

    There was, in years past, a preference for heavy sticks. I used, during much of my youth, a Dunlop Maxply Fort, Heavy, with 4-3/4 grip, shaved down to about 4-5/8 and then re-wrapped with a Balmforth Fairway leather grip. This racquet weighed in excess of 13 ounces. I'll agree that big grips do go with big sticks. I know I prefer them on my sledgehammer.

    So much of this is a matter of personal preference. I still prefer a larger grip, primarily because that is what I've grown accustomed to over a long span of time. Having spent some time, recently, hitting with quality racquets with smaller grips, I have found the experience equally enjoyable and, under some conditions, may actually prefer the smaller grip.

    YMMV, and I bet it does. :)

    Cheers!
     
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  29. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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    The best players hold the racket very loose, and they attempt to close the racket over the top of the ball, and because they try to hit the ball on the lower part of the string bed, AND NOT in the center of the strings, the racket actually "twists" or "flutters" as they make contact. This happens often, and I have a watche high speed video of it happening to Federer 3 out of 5 forehands in sequence. It is not seen by the naked eye unless you know what to look for. The tighter you grip the racket, the less you can connect your strings to the large muscle contractions in your body. That is what I teach my students. I tell them to grip the racket like a stick of butter with the thumb and the "trigger finger" pretty much supporting the racket and then let the head whip across the top of the ball, almost as if I'm trying to chop off the top of the ball.

    I have a pic of Safina doing the same thing but the ball isn't quite touching her strings and she's also off the ground, so you know it's pure racket head speed with a loose grip going across the ball that causes this. This could not happen if pros were going through the target line, think about it.
     
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  30. hyogen

    hyogen Hall of Fame

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    what the heck? how do you even hit that ball? is he brushing the top of the ball? wouldn't that create topspin?

    what the heck is a reverse topspin SLICE forehnad????
     
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  31. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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    It's not a mishit. I'll post another one for you. It happens a ton of shots, I promise.

    I suppose the guy below must have mishit it because you can see his racket was closed also.

    [​IMG]

    This guy keeps mishitting it, he can't seem to hit the sweetspot. I have a dozen pics of the ball on his strings in exactly this same spot.

    [​IMG]

    As long as you keep the wrist laid back, you can attack the ball with the top edge of the racket fairly closed and then just hit UP and ACROSS the ball. It's how Oscar Wegner taught me to teach. It works.
     
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  32. hyogen

    hyogen Hall of Fame

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    that's how i hit my forehand...and a lot of others. not too hard with a SW or full western forehand grip..

    however, the picture of sam querrey looks completely unnatural.
     
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  33. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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    These pros below keep mishitting the ball, especially the female #1 player in the world.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I hit the sweetspot more than any of these guys, probably....but that's why I'm sitting here rained out of four hours of teaching lessons without having ever made it to 6.0 level, though at 48 I was pretty close to holding my own hitting with some pros. That was a few years ago unfortunately. Out of shape doing a book on the History of Tennis Instruction and getting my Masters Degree in Education.

    If you guys haven't seen The Real History of USA Tennis Instruction, you might want to click here and read at least the 1975 entry which will make you realize how we went from 69 top 100 players to a dozen in thirty years.

    http://www.moderntenniscoaches.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=13
     
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  34. Stroke

    Stroke Rookie

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    Even though it seems as if everyone is now advocating the smaller grips, I have yet to see a pro playing that uses a grip so small his hand goes all the way around it(by this I mean there is no gap between his ring finger and the heel of his hand). On both Roger and Rafa, the poster boys for the smaller grips, I noticed there is a gap. Their hand does not wrap completely around and swallow up the grip. I think there must be a gap between the ring finger and the heel of the hand. Now whether this gap needs to be the old traditional finger width or not is the question.
     
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  35. hyogen

    hyogen Hall of Fame

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    uh...all those other pics that you're showing look perfectly normal to me and most the other players here. not to be rude, but you're not teaching us anything new here...

    the one with sam querrey - he must have had an extremely loose grip - still doesn't look like it's possible.
     
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  36. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    Sorry to hijack, but Hygoen, how's the ag300?
     
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  37. vkartikv

    vkartikv Hall of Fame

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    The reverse is true for me. I'm a 4 3/8 and went up to a 4 1/2 and am hitting with more spin than ever before. I went up a size for more stability at net.
     
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  38. hyogen

    hyogen Hall of Fame

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    it's not bad - i had it restrung with 18g prince synthetic gut duraflex at around 60lbs and it's not bad.. the only thing is...I wish I hadn't gotten the 4 1/2" grip size. the grip isn't shavable either.

    Feels similar to my mfil.

    With my 5/8" grip 300G, I can just take the grip off, and put 2 overgrips on and it's ok. But with the 4 1/2" it's not as good..

    so I'm gonna sell it whenever anyone wants it.
     
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  39. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    Ah, I see. Well, thanks for the update.
     
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  40. gogeta087

    gogeta087 Rookie

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    so i guess my 4 1/2 with 3 overgrips is a bit bigger than the pros' grips, eh? ahaha 4 1/2 felt too small :D
     
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  41. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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  42. gogeta087

    gogeta087 Rookie

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  43. PaulC

    PaulC Semi-Pro

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    Father of Reverse Forehand w Hawaiian Grip

    Speaking of Reverse Forehand, Check out the possible inventor Alberto Berasategui with his notorious Hawaiian grip (more western than a western grip, then again, Querry will be qualified as midway island grip):

    http://www.advantage-tennis.com/albertob/ab9.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
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  44. Tyrus

    Tyrus Professional

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    It was weird for me...i first went for the 4 1/2 grip. because every time i hit with 4 3/8 it killed my wrist at first shot, 8 months later i found many reasons to go back to 3/8, my wrist is much more flexible to withstand it without pain, also, it's easier to make a grip bigger than smaller.
     
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  45. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    it's the opposite for me. every time I use 4 1/2, my forearm starts to burn, but when I use 4 3/8, nothing.
     
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  46. teachestennis

    teachestennis Rookie

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  47. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    I would agree. For topspin groundies, and for serving also, I grip the racket with more of a hammer grip at the bottom of the handle, so I can whip the rackethead around quicker. However, for volleying I go for a continental grip and place my hand more diagonally across and up from the bottom of the handle, which helps lock the wrist for a short punch.

    My three AG100s are all 4 3/8s - and all have a leather grip and overgrip. However, my favourite one is the one that felt like it had the smallest grip - I could really whip topspin into my goundies with that one. Then, when I measured it I found it was 3/8 (even with the leather grip and overgrip). The other two were closer to 4/8, and when using those two I always felt I was late and mistiming the shots, particularly on forehands. So I redid the overgrips on them to reduce the overlaps, and immediately my timing felt better. I might experiment with one of them to shave the grip down to 1/4, and see how it plays (I can always build it up again with tape, if it doesn't work!).
     
    #47
  48. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    You don't think the smaller grip hurts you on the volleys ? on the serves, smaller grip is always better due to the fact it is much easier to pronate...
     
    #48
  49. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    smaller grips allow you to flick the wrist more which is beneficial in todays topspin reliant clay court game
     
    #49
  50. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Nobody on tour really is that good at net.....
     
    GoSoCalTennis likes this.
    #50

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