How to Sand Down the Grip of a Tennis Racket

It's harder to hold onto your racket when the grip is too big.

It's harder to hold onto your racket when the grip is too big.

Does your tennis racket fly out of your hand every time you serve or hit an overhead? If so, check your grip -- it might be too big. One solution that won’t break a Nestie’s budget is to sand down the handle’s pallet, if it’s made of foam rather than the more common rubber or other non-sandable material. If you have sandable foam, avoid sanding off more than one grip size.

Unwrap and remove the tape from around the top of the grip. Peel back the end of the grip and unwrap enough to expose the handle. Examine the pallet -- it’s the shaping material used to create an octagon around the shaft -- to be sure it can be sanded. A closed-cell foam pallet looks and feels like board insulation, often a yellowish or dun-colored hue. A rubber pallet may be black and consist of two halves with seams running the long way on the shaft.

Unwrap the grip all the way to the butt cap. Work slowly to avoid damaging the grip -- you can reuse it. As you unwrap, pay attention to how the grip was installed so you can repeat the process to reinstall it; a close-up digital photo set on “macro” to capture details can help you here. If there's a staple holding the end of the grip to the butt cap, remove it with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

Remove tacks or staples holding the butt cap to the handle with your pliers. Slide the butt cap off. If it's a bit stubborn, loosen it by sliding a flat-head screwdriver along the sides between the handle and butt cap. Be careful not to damage the pallet or cap. Measure and note the circumference of the handle with a flexible tape measure.

Color four non-contiguous sides, also referred to as bevels, of the handle with a red permanent marker -- every other bevel. Bring the color right up to the edge of each bevel. Avoid overlapping the color onto the adjoining bevels. Color the remaining bevels with a black permanent marker. This technique helps you maintain a clean, crisp edge when you sand.

Attach fine-grit sandpaper to a sanding block. Hold the block flat against the top of one of the red-colored bevels. Lightly sand to the end of this bevel and remove the red color as you go. Remove the color right up to the edge of the adjoining, black-colored bevels and try to keep the edges straight. Follow the same technique to sand the remaining three red-colored bevels. Repeat the sanding process with the four, black-colored bevels until all eight bevels have been sanded and no color remains.

Wipe the handle free of dust with a clean rag. Measure the circumference of the handle and compare it to your first measurement -- remember, removing 1/8 inch equals one grip size. If necessary, recolor the bevels and repeat the process until you've sanded off enough material.

Push the butt cap back on to the end of the handle. Insert a tack with the tack gun through every other side of the cap to secure it. Reinstall the original grip the way you removed it in reverse.

Items you will need

  • Digital camera
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Flexible tape measure
  • Red permanent marker
  • Black permanent marker
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Clean rag
  • Tack gun

Tips

  • If you're not sure you want to tackle this yourself, have a qualified racket technician from your local pro shop do the work.
  • If you can't sand down the handle, try removing the original grip completely and only using a thin overgrip.

Warning

  • It's better to remove a small amount of material and repeat the process more than once than to remove it all in one go -- you risk sanding through the pallet and permanently damaging it.
 

References

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

Photo Credits

  • Ryan Pierse/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images