How to Sand Down the Grip of a Tennis Racket

It's harder to hold onto your racket when the grip is too big.
i Ryan Pierse/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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.

    Step 1

    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.

    Step 2

    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.

    Step 3

    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.

    Step 4

    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.

    Step 5

    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.

    Step 6

    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.

    Step 7

    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.


    • 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.


    • 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.

    Things You'll 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

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