So the question is how often should you change your squash racket grip? The startling answer is probably a lot more often than you think.
Many of the people I play with will basically buy a racket and then just keep the same grip until it becomes like a tattered rag. What difference can it possibly make? It’s only a grip. “Wrong!” say those in the know. Apparently, it makes a huge difference.
For this article I have researched several sources and the consensus I would say is the following…
How often should you change your squash racket grip? A racket grip will probably last around ten to fifteen matches before a player starts to notice it slipping in their hand. A player who plays twice a week should change their grip every two months. If four times a week then change it every month. For once a week its every four months.
In this article I will look at the tell-tale signs that your grip needs changing. I will also talk about safety and technical issues of having an old grip. We will explore the benefits of regularly refreshing your grip.
But that seems a bit extreme?!
It is definitely true that the culture of most players is just to persevere with a grip. Not much thought is given to it. Shoes clearly make a difference, rackets do, but grips?
I think this is why the idea of changing your grip so often is so shocking. Although common sense, it is just very different to what is currently happening.
What impact does a worn grip have on your play?
A seriously old grip will have a big impact, but it’s probably one you’ve just got used to. Here are some of the biggest problems:
Lack of touch – The biggest impact is on shots like drop shots. You just don’t have the same level of touch with an old, slippier grip. Even the slightest bit of unwanted movement in the grip of your handle makes a large difference to the accuracy of shots such as drops and deft boasts.
Racket slipping in hands when playing powerful shots – This is often one of the first signs that the time is nye to change that grip. This also makes a big difference to the accuracy and power of these types of shots.
Dye on hands – After a few months the dye will begin to bleed. If your hands are going bright orange after every game, then you have a problem.
Hideous hand odours! – A lesser concern this one, probably, as no one smells fantastic when playing squash anyway. But if your hands start smelling like a sewer then it’s time to change.
Safety issues – This is a biggie. When your racket starts slipping out of your hand after every shot, clearly the next step if fully letting go of it, and this could cause a hideous injury.
Do rackets that have not been used for a long time need a new grip?
So you’ve found an old racket in the garage that looks in pretty good nick. It’s probably a couple of years old, but the grip looks OK. Does it need a new one?
Almost certainly yes! After six months or so the dye on any grip may start to bleed and the rubber begin to degrade. That’s even if it hasn’t been used. So for optimum results – change that grip!
So what are the benefits of changing a grip regularly?
Much better touch for drop shots and lobs. The ‘feel’ of the racket is greatly enhanced and your accuracy increases as a result.
Generate much better power. Particularly your drives can be played with more power and precision.
Be safer and avoid nasty accidents.
Don’t have hideous hands that are dyed a particular colour and smell like death.
The life of a grip
The grip is best on its first use and will deteriorate from there. Some professionals change their grip as often as every match. They, of course, will play far more shots during these games than if you are just starting out. A professional will probably play up to ten times more shots during a match than a beginner. However, this gives you the kind of indication of the importance placed in a fresh grip, and the added control it gives you.
How much are you willing to spend?
How much you are willing to spend will likely affect your frequency of grip change. Grips aren’t particularly expensive (anywhere around $5) but if you’re using a new one every time you play, this wouldn’t be negligible. I prefer to buy a few at a time, so you’re ready the next time one is needed.
How often do you play – the checklist
As stated before about ten to fifteen games seems to be the benchmark of how long a grip will be in peak condition. So here is a rundown of how long a grip may last for you:
Number of games per week
Recommended lifespan of grip
|Less than once a week||Six months|
|Once a week||Four months|
|Twice a week||Two months|
|Three times||Six weeks|
|Four times||One month|
|Five times||Three weeks|
|Six times||Two weeks|
|Pro||After every few matches|
Anything else to take into consideration?
Do you sweat more than the average person? If you sweat excessively, your grip will become saturated and your grip on the handle will be stronger. Greater friction on the grip will lead to more damage. The grip therefore may only last 7-8 matches rather than 10-15.
Another issue is the type of grip. Some grips simply last much longer than others.
Another factor may be court temperature. If you normally play on sweltering hot courts then you will be sweating more and that will impact the grip. Colder courts will not produce anything like the same amount of sweat.
The worn grip symptoms checker
Look out for the following things to see if the grim reaper is poised ready to make his pounce:
There are chunks missing from the existing grip tape.
The grip has changed from a lighter colour to a dark dirty colour.
You find it difficult to keep hold of your racket when playing hard shots.
You’ve noticed an increased difficulty in making accuracy dependant shots – drop shots being the most obvious here.
Time to take the plunge!
Luckily there are many good quality grip tapes out there on the market. You do not need to break the bank either, which is good. I always buy a few in one go, so I’m ready for a whole season.
I personally like to use two grips on the handle. I find one is too skinny and I haven’t got the right amount of touch. If you have larger hands this may well be the way to go as well. I have even seem one guy use three, but he did have monstrous hands.
Can I put grip tape on top of my existing grip?
With a particular type of tape called overgrip, you can. However, if your initial grip is really torn up (or otherwise seriously degraded) you might still be better starting from scratch. The reason is that it will create an uneven, rough appearance on the top layer. This might disrupt your play and is something you want to avoid.
What type of grip is right for you?
If you’re new to this, I’d probably suggest that you buy a couple of different types of grips the first time and simply check them out. The main target is finding something that feels comfortable and natural.
I find superstition plays a big part in squash! If I’ve used something that seemed to work well in a couple of games and brought success then stick with it!
What should you consider when buying a new grip?
Thickness – More thickness will give your racket a softer touch but it increases the overall circumference of the handle (making it more ideal for larger hands)
Tackiness (Stickiness) – This element is exactly as is implied, how much tack is there between your hand and the material. Some grips are very tacky, and some not so.
Durability- Some grips are better quality and will simply last longer. Some will degrade quicker. The cost is often related here (though not always). So have a think about is it worth splashing out a little more and getting a grip that will last a bit longer.
It may well be a surprise to find out how big an impact a new grip can have on your game. Look out for the tell-tale signs that your grip has met its maker: slipping racket during power shots, lack of touch, and bleeding dye.
Regularly replacing your grip will enhance your power, accuracy, and touch in shots such as drops and boasts. Grips are cheap and simple to put on yourself with a bit of practice.
How often do you usually change your grip?