What is the theory behind smaller grip sizes increasing spin?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by newyorkstadium, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    What is the theory behind smaller grip sizes improving spin/serves?

    Why does it increase wrist flexion, rotation and accelerate pronation?

    Is to do with how loosely you grip the racket? I grip the racket tightly regardless of grip size. Or maybe it's to do with muscle contraction??

    Edit: Title should have read, what is the theory behind smaller grip sizes improving spin/serves?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
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  2. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    Yes having a bigger headsize, a more open stringbed, 20g string, string savers, and a smaller gripsize will give you more topspin than you can possibly generate than if you were using proper technique.
     
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  3. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    I just want to establish if there is any actual proven science behind this, and if recreational players should be lowering their grip size.
     
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  4. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    :twisted:
    :twisted:

    :twisted:
     
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  5. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    Smaller grips seem to allow your relaxed wrist to snap through more when using proper technique. IMO and I'm being serious.

    That said I tend to use larger grips for my hand size. 1/2 and 5/8
     
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  6. Squidward

    Squidward Rookie

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  7. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    The article doesn't explain why smaller grip sizes increase wrist flexion and accelerate pronation. Or why they increase wrist rotation. I just want to know the science behind it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
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  8. corners

    corners Legend

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    I'm not aware of any science that supports the notion that smaller grips make it easier to hit "wristy" strokes. I do remember reading a comment by Brian Gordon, a widely regarded tennis biomechanics expert. He said that he could think of no reason why a smaller grip should allow easier or more free wrist movement/action. But he didn't this explicitly, he was only commenting off the top of his head.

    I have combed the research on the relationship between grip size and effort. The conventional wisdom has been that using a small grip requires more effort to hold onto, while using a larger handle allows less effort. But one study I found - apologies, I don't have time to find it, Google should do the trick for you, if interested - determined that the effort required by the hand and forearm muscles to hold onto grips one size smaller and one size larger than the "recommended" size were all about the same. So if the traditional measurement method says you should use a 4 3/8" it shouldn't take you any extra muscle action to use a 4 /14" or 4 1/2". That was the best paper I could find on the topic.

    I do think it's interesting that Grigor Dimitrov, who has copied Federer's forehand technique almost exactly, uses a 4 5/8" grip while Fed uses a 4 3/8" grip. Federer's forehand is clearly superior at this point, but Dimitrov uses the same "whippy" or "wristy" technique and seems to be effective with it even with a grip size that would be considered closer to the traditionally recommended size.

    So, at this point, I think it requires individual experimentation to find out what works for you. Ideally, a player would have three racquets all with the same weight, balance and swingweight, but with three different grip sizes. This would make it pretty easy to find out what works best in terms of wrist "freedom."

    In my experience, small grips do seem to make it easier to "whip" a wristy a forehand, and tougher to hit a good volley. On the other hand, I've got some woodies with grips much larger than I normally use and I can hit whippy strokes with those too. So I'm not sure how much is in this grip size thing. My guess is that Nadal and Federer and some of the other guys just didn't change grip sizes as they got older, for whatever reason, and now play with the same grips they did when they were ten years old. LOL As a counterpoint, Djokovic uses a "normal" size grip and his forehand is much less wristy than Fed and Nadal. Who knows?
     
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  9. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    IMO, a smaller grip size makes it easier to hold the racquet more loosely. I changed from 1/2 to 3/8 some years ago for that reason.

    Also, with the fingers more fully closed on a smaller grip, I think the wrist experiences more degrees of freedom in flexing/extending/deviating. At least, it feels that way to me.
     
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  10. Jakesteroni

    Jakesteroni Rookie

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    I think of a baseball bat as a comparison. Smaller grip gives you more leverage to swing and snap through. resulting in more racket head speed, thus more potential spin. If you have proper technique you'll get the same result I suppose, but the question is if that individual were to use both grip size and technique. Which would give them more spin.
     
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  11. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Just speaking from my personal experience.

    When the grip size is too small, my forearm gets sore from having to squeeze too hard to keep the face angle stable. This happened recently to me when I volunteered for the AeroPro Drive 2013 playtest, where all the demo's had 4-3/8" grip.

    When the grip size is too big, I feel that I can't swing quite as hard because I worry that I don't have as secure a grip. So I am less likely to take a big uppercut at the ball on forehands, and less apt to swing all-out on the serve.

    I have smaller than average hands, but I prefer grips in the 4-1/2 to 4-5/8 range, depending on the manufacturer (e.g. 4-5/8 for Prince, or 4-1/2 for Wilson, and I don't use overgrips). So I guess that places me in the larger grip camp. I certainly prefer larger grips for volleying and blocked returns.

    One reason some people prefer smaller grips might be full western grips. I find that I can more comfortably hit serves with a full backhand grip (vs continental) for more spin when the grip size is a little smaller, because then i can grasp the handle more securely in my fingertips. A western forehand is similar in that it's also more in the fingers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
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  12. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    I acknowledge that you might be able to get more wrist movement, which could improve your forehand and your serve. However the smaller you go the less stable your volleys get and if you block back serves. 4 3/8 is the lowest I'd ever go, though I prefer 4 5/8.
     
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  13. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    what about buttcap size? i.e. a grip one size smaller, but with a built up buttcap, e.g. wrapping a leather grip one additional time around the buttcap before continuing on the rest of the grip.
     
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  14. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    Do you mean flared buttcap like Gasquet's and Wawrinkas?
     
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