How to Use a Heat Shrink Sleeve on a Bad Tennis Racket for a Better Feel

An incorrect grip size negatively affects your swing.

An incorrect grip size negatively affects your swing.

An incorrectly sized grip turns a high-quality tennis racket into a bad apple that ruins your swing and lowers your match scores. Adjusting the size of your bad racket’s grip to match your own grip transforms it into a good racket capable of improving your game. Heat shrink sleeves allow you to increase the size of your grip in either half- or full-size increments, depending on the sleeve you choose for your racket. This allows you to put an end to your bad racket's behavior.

Install Heat Shrink Sleeve

Measure the distance from the tip of your ring finger to the middle of your palm with a ruler. The distance you measure indicates your grip size. Compare this size with the racket grip size located on the bottom of the racket handle. Purchase a half-size or full-size heat shrink sleeve based on the difference between your measurement and the racket's. A half-size increase equals a 1/16-inch increase and a full-size equals a 1/8-inch increase.

Remove the finish tape from the grip end closest to the racket head with your fingers. Unwind the grip from the handle until you reach the handle butt. Pull the staple from the butt with needle-nose pliers.

Sand the exposed handle lightly, with 200-grit sandpaper, to remove any adhesive or backing residue left on the handle. Wipe the handle surface thoroughly with a clean rag. Any missed debris will remain under the sleeve, causing a feeling in your hands similar to the feeling a rock in your shoe causes to your feet.

Plug in and turn on a heat gun. Set the gun to a setting near 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Slide the heat shrink sleeve over your racket’s handle. Position the sleeve halfway between the handle butt and the connecting point between the handle and the racket head.

Hold the racket in your nondominant hand. Point the head gun toward your racket’s butt end while keeping the tip of the gun 4 inches away from the sleeve. Slowly move the gun from the butt to the handle as you twist the racket with your nondominant hand. Stop heating the sleeve when it tightens to the handle’s surface. Allow the sleeve to cool for 15 minutes before proceeding.

Cut excess material from the sleeve by running the tip of a utility knife blade around the perimeter of the sleeve at the connecting point of the handle and racket head. Use light pressure to avoid damaging the racket’s finish. Trim the excess material to within 1/16-inch of the bottom of the butt with the utility knife. Trimming the bottom is optional, based on your preferences.

Install New Grip

Remove the protective backing from the finishing tape included with your replacement grip. Peel the backing from the self-adhesive grip material.

Press one end of the replacement grip tight to the racket’s butt. While keeping the grip’s top edge aligned with the end of the butt, shoot a staple through the grip and butt, with a staple gun, if required, to hold it in place.

Wrap the grip around the handle. Move the grip at a diagonal as you wrap, while overlapping each wrap with the previous by 1/16-inch.

Hold the top wrap of the grip tape against the racket. Mark the angle where the grip tape meets the connecting point between the racket’s handle and head on the tape with a pen. Cut along the line with scissors before pressing the tape to the handle’s surface.

Wrap the finish tape around the top of the grip, while keeping half the tape on the grip and half on the racket handle.

Items you will need

  • Ruler
  • Heat shrink sleeve
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • 200-grit sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Heat gun
  • Utility knife
  • Replacement grip
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Finish tape
 

About the Author

Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images