How to Reduce the Grip Size of Tennis Rackets

Cropped tennis player with racket and ball

Playing tennis with the wrong grip size can cause the racket to twist in your hand, making it harder to hold or leading to arm problems. You have a few options if your handle is too large and needs to be reduced. Handles made of wood or foam can be reduced by carefully shaving off a small amount of material. But if the handle is made of carbon graphite, it can’t be shaved without compromising the strength of the handle. Some options are easy to do yourself, while others require an expert.

Shaving Technique

Remove the tape securing the synthetic or leather grip to the top of the handle. Unwrap and remove the grip. As you do this, be mindful of how the grip was installed so you can reverse the process when installing a new grip. Pull off any remaining adhesive tape.

Remove all staples or tacks securing the butt cap to the handle, using an awl to pry them loose and a pair of pliers to pull them out. Set the butt cap to the side.

Measure the circumference of the handle with a flexible measuring tape. Note the size as you will need to check the shaved circumference against this measurement.

Color all eight sides of the handle with a permanent marker. This helps you remove an even amount of material and helps you maintain crisp, beveled edges as you remove the material.

Hold a rasp flat against one of the sides and carefully file off a small portion of the handle material. As you remove the material, the marker color is also removed. The difference in color between the side you are working on and the adjacent sides helps you see if a straight line along the beveled edge is being maintained. Continue to work on this side until all of the marker color is removed. Repeat this process on every other side of the handle for a total of four sides.

Recolor these four filed sides with the permanent marker. Repeat the filing process on the four sides that have not yet been filed. Be sure to only remove a small portion and to maintain a straight beveled edge between sides.

Measure the circumference of the handle. Compare this measurement with the initial measurement. It is recommended that only one grip size, one-eighth of an inch, be removed. If you shave off more than that, you risk filing completely through the handle material. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 if you have not shaved off enough material. You may need to repeat this process a few times before achieving the desired size.

Wipe down the handle with a clean rag to remove any shavings. Slide the butt cap onto the bottom of the handle. Insert tacks into every other side of the butt cap using a tack gun.

Install a new self-adhesive grip. Pull off 8 inches of backing from the grip but don't cut it off. Stick the tapered end of the grip onto the edge of the handle at the butt cap. Wrap the grip around the handle in reverse of the way you removed the old grip. When you get close to having 8 inches installed, pull off another 8 inches of backing. Continue to wrap the grip until you get to the top of the handle.

Cut off the excess grip with scissors and wrap the supplied finishing tape around the top to secure the grip to the handle.

Other Options

Follow the instructions as outlined in Step 1 of the previous section to remove the current grip and expose the bare handle. If the old grip is a cushion grip, install a thinner replacement grip. This may reduce the grip size just enough for your needs.

Remove the grip and install one or two thin overwraps onto the bare handle. This makes the grip significantly smaller but you lose the cushioning you get from a replacement grip.

Remove the grip and examine how the handle is made. Some racquet manufacturers design the handles with removable parts called pallets. The pallets can be changed out to a different size. Changing the pallets is a difficult process, so if your handle has pallets take it to a racquet specialist who has the necessary tools and expertise.


A sanding block can be used instead of a rasp.


Shaving off small amounts adds up quickly to one-eighth of an inch, so it is better to make several passes with the rasp to avoid damaging the handle beyond repair.