How to Grip a Squash Racket - Forehand and Backhand Technique
The proper grip of your squash racket is extremely important!
Your grip lets you solidly hit each shot, with power and precision, and without losing control of your racket while doing so! Use this guide to figure out which grip type is best for you, along with the proper technique of how to grip your racket.
Many people over-complicate the squash grip, whereas it’s actually very simple to execute properly. That said, it’s important to get the grip technique right early on, so you don’t develop bad habits.
The image above shows the final position your hand and fingers should be in. Here are the steps to get there:
- Shake hands with the racket handle, forming a “V” along the side edge.
- Rotate your grip slightly to the left, until your thumb comes across the front of the handle.
- The side of your thumb should be touching your middle finger.
- Your pinky, ring finger, middle finger and thumb form the solid base of your grip. These should stay sturdy as you hit the ball, and are where power is generated
- Your index finger wraps higher up on the grip, and shouldn’t touch your other fingers. It’s meant to add stability to your grip, and to perform controlled shots like drops and flicks.
You’ll head many different opinions on what size grip your squash racket should have. Some players like a thick grip (with some even layering several grips on top of each other to get the desired thickeness), while some prefer as thin as possible.
The 1 thing to know, is that the thinner your grip, the more maneuverable your wrist will be. Players that like to do a lot of flicks and whipping of the racket head, will do better with a thinner grip.
Thicker grips can give a more solid grip, that performs better with hard shots and kill shots. The extra weight the thicker grip can add more power to your shots as well. Expect less feel and control with a thicker grip.
Using the grip technique developed above, a proper forehand grip is shown in the image below.
The most important aspect is to have your wrist cocked, and racket face slightly open when the racket is held outwards. If the racket face is pointing to the floor, or isn’t open at all, your shots will hit the tin, or won’t have enough height.
To correct a closed racket face, shift the “V” of your grip a bit more to the left, until the racket face is open.
The backhand grip is no different from the forehand one, meaning that your hand doesn’t need to change position on the racket handle when hitting 95% of your shots (the other 5% is discussed in the “Alternate Grips” section).
Once again, your wrist needs to be cocked, and your racket face slightly open. You know you’ve achieved a good squash grip when your racket face is open on both your forehand and backhand!
Gripping Your Racket Low or High
A lower grip gives:
- More reach
- More power and more whip on your shots
- Less control
- Slower reaction time
A higher grip gives:
- Less reach
- Less power and less whip
- More control
- Quicker reaction time
Which should you use? In my opinion, a lower grip has more advantages, with the greater power and reach. Better control and reaction time can be built up with experience, compensating for the advantages of the higher grip.
A higher grip has disadvantages that can’t be overcome with practice and experience. You can’t magically gain more reach, and there’s a significant power limitation that a lower grip will always overcome.
My opinion: get used to gripping your racket lower on the handle!
Alternate Grips in Match Situations
There are some scenarios in a match that may require adjusting your grip, to perform some awkward shots.
Scenario 1 – Retrieving a soft length dying in a back corner
These shots are easier to retrieve by adjusting your grip higher. This lets you flick the racket head easier, and shortens the length of racket that may get jammed against the back wall. Essentially, it lets you dig the squash ball out of tight spaces in the back corners.
Scenario 2 – Retrieving a good drop shot or low hard drive
Sometimes the ball gets away from you, and you’re reaching for it out of desperation, trying to get your racket head underneath. Gripping the racket lower gives you those extra few millimeters of reach. You can’t perform a high quality shot with the grip this low, so it’s meant only to retrieve and keep the rally going.
Difference Between Replacement Grip and Overgrip (Tape)
In squash, replacement grips are those with glue on the back, and are meant as a standalone grip for your racket. They are thicker than overgrips & tapes, which are means to wrap over a replacement grip.
Some players like to have different combinations of grips, like a replacement + overgrip, just a replacement, or just an overgrip.
In my opinion, the best option is to use just 1 replacement grip. Different brands have different thicknesses, so you can experiment to find what suits you best.
Why not use an overgrip / tape?
- They have less tackiness than replacement grips, and they also wear out quicker. You’ll have to change these every 2-3 matches, especially if you’re a heavy sweater
- They add unnecessary thickness to a replacement grip. As mentioned above, the thicker the grip, the less control you have
- Using only an overgrip, and no replacement grip, has a couple of disadvantages
- Your hand will start to hurt while playing, as theres not enough cushioning on the racket handle
- There is no glue on the back of overgrips, and it will start slipping off during play
Some people buy overgrips to save money, but I think it’s worth paying a bit extra for a good stock of replacement grips. It’ll pay off by assuring your grip isn’t always worn out, and you always have good tackiness. A good replacement grip should be able to last for 10-15 matches, or for about 6 weeks of playing 2-3 times a week.
The Best Squash Grip Brand to Use
By far, Karakal offers the best squash grips, the best being the original Karakal PU Super Grip. You can read about this and all my best equipment picks for 2018 here.
I’ve tried many different brands, and these have the best level of tackiness, while lasting a good 6 weeks of play @ 3 times per week.
That said, certain COLOURS of Karakal grip perform better. Sounds crazy, but it’s true! In my experience, yellow and red grips have the best durability. Green, black, and any fluorescent colors tend to wear out quickly.
Why is this? I’m not sure, but it may have to do with the dyes used for the coloring. I’ve found that green and fluorescent Karakal grips actually rip and tear within a couple of weeks. Very odd!
Funny enough, you’ll notice the professionals often use the same color of grip in all their matches. I believe it’s because the different colors actually do perform differently.