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Why You Need a Good Grip

Why does James Bond drive an Aston Martin? Aside from the sex appeal or status that the classic car is known for, the car has a specific use for him: Bond needs to be fast and agile on the road. Your paddle grip has the same use; not only is the grip’s stability good for protecting you from the classic, devious villains of wrist and forearm pain, but a good grip is tailored for the player. So, next time you miss that serve that was barely out, or that volley that was just too short, take a look at your grip (it’s more important than it’s given credit for!).

Two Kinds of Grips and Which One Is Best For You

You can divide grips into two categories: small grips for performance, and large grips for stability. Small grips are perfect for any player struggling with power or spin; by shrinking the circumference of the grip, your wrist will be able to flick or swing the paddle quicker. However, this comes at the cost of increased movement and strain on the joints. Large grips, on the other hand, are perfect for stability, practice or injury recovery, sparing your aching joints and muscles from tear or overwork. The great thing about a good grip is it is tailored for your needs. 

Rules For the Road: Specific Steps for Perfect Sizing

Here are three quick tips to adjust your grip:

  1. If you have your paddle nearby, measure your grip size with the index finger test. Take your paddle and hold it with an Eastern grip. If you don’t know what that is, fear not. An Eastern grip is simply where the index knuckle is on the 1st bevel and heel pad rests on the 3rd bevel. Your grip will look something like this:

Now, take your non-dominant index finger, and place it between your palm and ring finger on the paddle. If it can’t fit, your grip is probably too small; if it fits but does not touch both, it is probably too large. For most people, the perfect grip will be where the index finger can fit easily and without scraping against the hand. This grip should feel comfortable and allow a full range of motion.Test grips until this fit is achieved, and make sure to double check them!

  1. If you can’t decide between two sizes, choose the smaller one: you can always adjust it with an overgrip. An overgrip is an added grip layer that will increase thickness by about half a size, or 1/16th inch (and don’t worry, here’s a size chart). 
  2. Don’t change by more than two sizes right away; going down by a couple sizes will cause you noticeable wrist pain, and going up will limit your power and swing. The best size is whatever size lets you have full range of motion without any pain. 

NOTE: Unfortunately, most paddles come in just 2 or 3 sizes. Size is less critical in pickleball and we find that most grips are small or medium. It very common to find players building up the grip with an overgrip.

Keep your game “below the net,”

MAPA Pickleball

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