Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Which is More Important, The Grip or the Racket?

I know many squash players who, while having their own favorite racket brand and model, nonetheless aver that rackets are so marginal to play that it almost doesn't matter which racket one uses.

I think there is a lot of truth to this. Unless a racket is strangely heavy or very light a player with good experience can fairly quickly make accommodations and play at or near the level he or she usually plays. 

I would argue, however, that the grip is not as forgiving. 

For almost a year now I have been playing with an unusually fat grip. My grip is made up of the factory-placed grip, plus a spongy Karakal grip, plus another Karakal grip. I started doing this when I realized I was getting a bit of wrist tendonitis; a fatter grip is easier on the wrist. For those of you out there that occasionally have this problem, i recommend the fat grip for easing wrist discomfort -- it has worked for me.

However, today I played a certain podiatrist friend of mine, whose name will remain unmentioned, and much to my dismay the racket I had in my squash kit did not have this extra karakal grip on it. The grip is, after all, the part of the racket that serves as the intermediary between the human hand and the business end of the racket. We squash players make subtle changes to the grip as we play; either opening or closing the head of the racket as we are striking the ball, or perhaps choking up on the racket when we get into the back corners. In reality, there is quite a bit of movement along the grip, and I found the difference in grip size disconcerting. I could not quickly get used to it, as I might with a strange racket. As my podiatric opponent took the sixth game in a row (some were close, one went into overtime, but there were also a few blowouts as my issue with the grip caused a growing malaise that eventually sank into psychologic cataplexy), he voiced the opinion that the racket and grip were both ultimately not important, and that I just was playing like an idiot. While being fully cognizant that idiocy does strike the Squashist from time to time, I beg to differ; I think the grip is more important than the racket. What do you think?

PS: I was going to write a blog on the importance that this week's Hong Kong Open will play in our sport's Olympic application, but Alan Thatcher, always a step ahead, already has done that, HERE. I hope that the players in Hong Kong do not engage in endless discussion and complaints about Let/No Let/Stroke calls. That type of behavior will not do the sport any credit when it comes to the Observers sent to the match by the Olympic committee. Play, players... Don't talk, play.....


  1. call the waaaambulance

  2. I'd say that both the racket and the grip are important. Certainly rackets that are similar in weight will be easier to make adjustments. But there are other considerations such as flex and balance, as well as whether it's a teardrop shape or not, and then you add the string tension and diametre.

    Generally a larger grip will force a player to use less motion in the wrist (keeping the wrist more or less locked in position throughout the swing), which will thus naturally put less stress and strain on the tendons and cartilage in the immediate and surrounding area. Conversely, a small grip will allow, much more wrist movement. Because this small grip increases the range of motion, the chances of the racket taking the wrist beyond what is comfortable, makes injury more likely.

    Of course these are generalities, but power players tend get better performance from heavier rackets with larger grips, while deceptive/touch players get more out of using light rackets with smaller grips. The balance of the racket: head light, to head heavy, the head shape, and the string type and tension all contribute to the unique characteristics of each player their style and the stroke mechanics that they have.

  3. "It's not the racquet, it's the turkey on the end of the handle."
    Vic Braden


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