How to Customize a Racquet's Grip Length

A shorter handle can affect your performance.

A shorter handle can affect your performance.

Tennis players are always looking for ways to improve their game and one way they do this is by customizing their rackets. Of the many customizing techniques, you may want to change the length of the grip, or handle, to change the racket's overall length. Shortening the handle's length can be done rather easily. But, if you want to add onto the handle, you’re out of luck -- can’t be done. Shortening the handle doesn't require a racket specialist. You or Mr. Nestie can tackle this with a few common household tools and supplies plus a new grip.

Remove the Grip and Butt Cap

Remove the tape from around the top of the grip and unwind the grip. If you see a staple holding the end of the grip to the butt cap, pry it up with an awl and pull it out with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Remove the grip.

Pry up the staples holding the butt cap to the handle using an awl. Work carefully to avoid damaging the cap. Pull the staples out with your pliers.

Grab hold of the butt cap with your fingers and slowly rock it back and forth to loosen is from the handle. Pull off the cap and set it aside.

Shorten the Handle

Wrap the bottom half of the handle with masking tape. This helps protect the handle when you start cutting off the desired amount of material.

Start by cutting off 1/4 inch of material, since the amount you cut off is a trial-and-error process. Place a mark across the side at 1/4 inch from the bottom of the handle. Repeat this for all the sides until you have a cutting line around the entire handle.

Line up the blade of your hacksaw on the line on one of the sides. Slowly saw back and forth four or five times, turn the handle and saw the next adjacent side. Repeat the process until you've completely sawed through the handle. Remove the masking tape from the handle.

Replace Butt Cap and Install a New Grip

Slide the butt cap onto the handle. Lightly tap the end of the cap with a hammer to be sure it's on all the way. Attach it by inserting staples, close to the top of the cap, into every other side of the handle.

Take your new grip and remove the protective film from the top side. Start with the tapered end and peel back 12 inches of the paper covering the adhesive strip on the back of the grip.

Stick the end of the grip onto the butt cap so that the straight edge is flush with the bottom edge of the cap. Insert a staple into the end of the grip to secure it to the cap.

Hold your racket upside-down with your left hand gripping the shaft and your right hand holding the grip. Rest the head of the racket against your leg for support.

Pull on the grip with your right hand to keep it taut as you turn the shaft clockwise with your left hand. Angle and wrap the grip from the butt cap to just beyond the top of the handle. Overlap the edges 1/16 inch and as necessary, peel off more of the paper from the adhesive on the back of the grip.

Draw a line around the grip to show where the end of the handle is. Unwrap the grip one turn so you can see the entire line. Cut along the line with scissors to remove the extra grip. Wrap the end around the handle and install the finish tape around the top of the grip.

Items you will need

  • Awl
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Tape measure
  • Permanent marker
  • Hacksaw
  • Hammer
  • Staple gun
  • Replacement grip with finish tape
  • Scissors
  • Lead tape (optional)

Tips

  • If after playing with your racket you decide to cut off more material, repeat the process -- remove the grip and butt cap, saw off the material and reinstall the butt cap and grip.
  • Shortening your racket changes its balance and how it performs, making it head-heavy. You can counterweight your racket by adding lead tape to the handle before installing the new grip.
  • If you have a two-handed backhand and want the grip, not the handle, to be longer, simply wrap a new grip a few extra times beyond the top of the handle.

Warning

  • Sawing off part of the handle will void the manufacturer's warranty.
 

References

  • Stringer's Digest 2009; United States Racquet Stringers Association

Photo Credits

  • A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images