25 December 2022 / 2-Min Read / Translate↗
Just a quick article today, as like many of you I have presents to open!
When I first started to play squash, I was very conscious of my grip and the handle of the squash racket. It never felt "right". Look back over all the development of squash rackets in the last 50 years and you see jumps in technology and design related to frames and strings. Look at the handle and it's more or less the same as 30 years ago. is it the best shape for controlling a racket? How much, if any, development has gone into its design?
I spent many years trying to customise my handle, from using strings of balsa wood to create ridges to small pieces of plasticine. Jahangir Khan used to see me making the changes in the little private changing room that Wembley Squash Centre had and laugh. Off he would go around the world winning tournaments and come back and say to me "What now?", and I would show him my latest idea. He tried them and even quite liked a few but none really made much difference.
When I started reviewing some rackets, I weighed them, measured their balance and one other aspect I wanted to measure was the shape of their handle. It's easy to measure the circumference, but that's only a small part of the story. Each brand has their own taper angle,; where the handle gets smaller at the top, Head seems to get slightly bigger at the butt. Some are more rounded than others, some more "square". I don't feel any are the right shape. By that I mean, there's no perfect shape for everybody.
The key is to recognise that you prefer a particular shape and without even realising it, when you pick up a racket of a different brand, that initial feeling in your hand can have an effect on whether you "like" the feel of it or not. Your hand has become accustomed to a shape, especially if you have put your own grip on and know what you like.
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As much fun as it was to try to create a new type of squash racket handle, I feel my effort would have been better spent practicing. If I ahd more time and coached on-court now, I might spend some time working to create a handle that made beginners and new players use the correct grip that felt natural.
I do feel thought that you should accept that some rackets feel better in your hand than others and part of that feeling is the shape of the handle.
I also feel that some time spent getting a brand and model of grip, and just as importantly its application, can really pay dividends. I like a smooth grip, others like to overlap the grip to create ridges, which is kind of the same thing I was doing nearly 40 years ago.
Don't be afraid to customize your handle, but know that in the grand scheme of things, those hours spent on it will probably be better spent hitting the ball. However, finding the right brand of grip and the right size of handle is easier and will definitely help how the rackets feels in your hand.
Got any funny or insightful stories of handles, grips and customisation? Send me an email, let's chat.