Grip Size and how it relates to both performance and risk of injury is a common topic of discussion amongst sport physiotherapists and tennis coaches alike. Unfortunately there is currently no readily available gripping device that you can call on in your local tennis shop to help you accurately calculate what is the optimal grip size for you.
Instead decisions are often based on how the grip feels in the players hand or on the advice of the shop assistant. For more experienced players although not very scientific going on the feel of the grip in hand is usually adequate, but for the beginner unless they have a very knowledgeable shop assistant purchasing a new racket with the correct grip size is often quite problematic.
The effects of grip size on performance and injury risk is well documented. It has been shown that a larger grip size will allow you to generate more force against the grip with less effort, however too large a grip size will limit the amount of movement you have about the wrist. We need a certain degree of freedom at the wrist joint to perform our tennis shots effectively and safely, if this movement is restricted is can cause undue stress on the wrist joint increasing the likelihood of injury.
A smaller grip size on the other hand allows for greater freedom of movement at the wrist which is often advantageous for players looking to generate a lot of topspin on their shots. Perhaps this is why Rafeal Nadal has a reportedly smaller grip size on his racquet compared to some of his counterparts. However a grip size that is too small will mean that a tennis player must grip the racket harder to generate the force necessary to stabilise the racket head on impact with the ball, this increased effort means a greater workload is placed on the muscles around the wrist and elbow which can sometimes lead to overuse injuries.
For novice players looking to attain the right grip size it is important to seek the advice of your club coach or a sports physiotherapist who has knowledge of the game. As an additional aid the International Tennis Federation published an article with the below method endorsed as a way to guide tennis players towards attaining the correct grip size.
If you are currently suffering with wrist or elbow pain and would like to have it treated please call Portobello Physiotherapy @ 01-4763330 and ask to book in with David O Connell.