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JAK'S NEW ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

About Your Butt Cap

April 2021

It's interesting to me that today's racket manufacturers – now collectively responsible for making it difficult to find a bad one with today's ever advancing technology and know-how - produce grips with very small butt caps.

Curious to me since all professional players – club players take note - hold the racket down very low on the handle with their pinky right at the grips edge.

Name one professional player who does not embrace this. Not to mention the racket company's collective penchant for constantly marketing greater power, and control, both in concert in every new frame introduced featuring the latest new space age materials with those exotic names like HEAD'S Graphene.

Interestingly, this sell, makes the case for maximizing the performance of any racket, even an old-tech one, to achieve that Holy Grail power-control factor, by even a small amount just with one's gripping position.

This lower position does indeed create a slightly longer lever - also facilitating greater wrist action and racket head speed when appropriate - versus those players choking up on the handle (some rackets are still produced that are actually longer than the standard 27", reinforcing the longer lever axiom further). More powerful shots are produced with less effort, and with an accompanying lower muscle tension that is instrumental in leading to better shot control.

Consider that relaxed muscles are figuratively "smart," what we commonly refer to as acquired muscle memory, and can more readily repeat, over and over, successful, clean ball striking. Tight muscles – it all starts with grip tension! – are figuratively "dumb" and spastic, and do not readily produce consistent play, not to mention cause injuries – hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, even lower back. They create unfortunate, inefficient muscle memories.

In any event, butt caps that are enlarged somewhat, unlike stock caps, fill the concave "hole" in your hand's palm when gripping down low.

Tour veteran, Frenchman Ricard Gasquet, he of the awesome, free swinging one-handed-backhand, and the poster boy for this customization since his racket handle looks like the end of an NHL hockey stick (knob) in its exaggeration. This results in a greater grip-to-hand friction coefficient allowing for reduced grip tension, a more secure feeling, a resulting lack of racket twisting on off-center strikes – not that mis-hits ever happen in Clubland - and generally freer, unencumbered strokes like the Gasquet dream stroke.

Rich Vernsey (Wrigley's Tennis), an international stringer and master racket technician (Australian Open, Japan Open, etc.) located right here in Punta Gorda, Florida for you SW Floridians, can do this customization for you for a nominal fee should you want to try it. Nothing to lose; it's not permanent.

Or, you can easily do it yourself with 1/2" adhesive tape (with the pinking shears edges) to customize the cap exactly to the increased size you're most comfortable with depending on hand size.

Cut a piece 2' to 3' to 4' in length, depending on comfort and feel, wrapped tightly around the grip's original stock grip right at the very bottom where the grip "flares" a bit, and then finished with a thin overgrip of choice to create a noticeably different feel.

Comparing Jak's tennis racket's butt size to that of a regular tennis racket. Jak has modified his to have a bigger butt.

A few of my more advanced, technically oriented lesson clients, having noticed my racket's big butt (see image) have made the conversion, and have stayed with it, maintaining that it has improved their play - noticeable to me as well - mainly because of a resulting auto lowering of their grip tension.

Surprising to me, Vernsey informs me that only a very small percentage of tour players that he has strung for alter their stock grip's smallish butt cap, or grip shape for that matter. Lately I've been observing this anytime the Tennis Channel offers a close up view of any player's racket.

Nonetheless, I'm in the Gasquet camp. I know I play better with a more relaxed and secure low grip tension primarily because of the bigger butt cap. You might too.

Copyright© by Jak Beardsworth Tennis. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

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Past Essays

  • November 2021 - The Backup Racket in Your Bag
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  • October 2021 - Every Tennis Player Can and Should Have a Weapon
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  • September 2021 - LEARNING NEW SKILLS: First the Process, Then the Results
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  • August 2021 - The Challenge of Visualizing… For Some
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  • July 2021 - Playing with both your feet and your hands
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  • June 2021 - Finding the Range
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  • May 2021 - The Focus
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  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
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  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
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  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
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  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
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  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
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  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
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  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
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  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
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  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
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  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
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  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
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  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
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  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
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  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
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  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
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  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
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  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]
  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]
  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.