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Why the Grip Shape Matters

Everyone that has played tennis or pickleball realizes that every paddle or racquet has a grip. However most people don’t understand the relationship between the grip and paddle control.  Obviously the grip is there to hold the paddle.  That is evident.  What isn’t evident to most is how important the shape of the grip is to the success of using that paddle.  Essentially there are three shapes; round, oval and rectangular.

What these shapes do or don’t provide in paddle face slope alignment and face plane feedback is critical.  A round grip, although very comfortable provides absolutely no hand to brain feedback.  A round grip does not allow the player to feel the plane (angle) of the paddle face.  Without the ability to feel the plane of the paddle head a player would have to constantly look down at his paddle to know how the face is aligned.  Not a good way to win points!

The second choice is an oval grip.  An oval shaped grip, although better than round, still provides little feedback for the plane of the paddle with the stroke.  Even a 5 degree off of perpendicular alignment will send the ball either into the net or out of the court.  If you don’t have the ability to accurately account for face angle you won’t have the ability to control your shots.  The oval grip is better than round, but still not good enough.

The third choice of grip shape is the rectangular shape.  Although both the oval and rectangular grip may have beveled corners (offering a octagonal shape) the longer the side sections are in relationship to the top and bottom sections dictates the amount of feedback a player has.  It is very important to know the alignment of your paddle face without having to look at it or even think about it.  The paddle face must be felt, not seen, to give the immediate feedback a player needs to hit an accurate shot.

A good test for you to understand this concept is to close your eyes, grab your paddle and hold it out as if you are making contact with the ball.  If there is even that 5 degree off plane that we talked about earlier you are probably giving away way too many shots.  If on the other hand you can feel exactly the alignment of your paddle you will have a much greater chance of hitting the shot your mind was trying to hit.  And the ability to accurately hit the shot you want is the foundation of playing winning pickleball.