Winning a tennis match mostly depends on a player’s level of skill and experience. However, there are also some environmental factors that come into play such as the conditions of the court, the tennis ball, and the racquet.
Your batting skill is what enables you to win or lose a game and therefore proper handling of the racquet is of utmost importance. The racquet should be able to sit firmly in your hand and shouldn’t slip or turn upon impact with the ball. In short, the racquet should have a good grip.
What is grip?
Grip is the material that covers the handle of the racquet. This material is sticky on the side that wraps around handle. On the other side it is made with rubber or other synthetic materials that offer some form of cushioning to your hand when holding the racquet.
The purpose of this grip is to reduce the chances of the racquet slipping out of your hand. When you are out there playing a game of tennis you need a racquet that you can hold tightly. A loosely held racquet can cause injury to your wrists or your whole arm. It can also go flying out of your hand, causing injuries to other people around you.
The other purpose of grip is to offer some form of comfort to your hand. Every time that you hit the tennis ball there is some impact shock created on the racquet. A good grip is able to absorb most of it leaving your hand comfortable and uninjured.
Having a racquet with a good grip also means that you can play for extended periods of times without your hands getting blisters. A blister on your hand can keep you off the court for a few days or sometimes even for weeks depending on its severity.
The grip also gives some form or shape to the racquet handle. When you are playing tennis you have to know the orientation of your racquet without having to check every time. With good grips you can be able to hit backhands, forehands, and volleys without taking your eyes off the ball.
After you have played a few hundred games you may notice that the racquet is becoming more and more uncomfortable to use or maybe you can even start to see the material from which the racquet’s handle is made of. Playing with such a racquet can not only throw off your game but it can also cause injuries to your hands.
This wearing down does not mean that you should throw your racquet away and acquire a new one. There are some cheaper ways of saving your racquet which involves getting a new grip. You can either get an overgrip or a replacement grip.
What is overgrip?
As the name suggests, overgrip is basically a grip that is added on top of the base grip of the racquet. You can add an overgrip to your racquet at any point of its use, even when it is new.
Just like the base grip, overgrip is usually made from rubber or other synthetic materials. Overgrip is however thinner than base grip and replacement grip. It is also much cheaper.
Why do I need overgrips?
Adding overgrip to your racquet increases its durability. If you add an overgrip to a new racquet, the overgrip may wear out with time while the base grip remains intact and relatively new. You can save a lot of money in the long run by doing just that.
An overgrip also provides extra cushioning to your hand. When you add the overgrip onto the base grip or replacement grip, you get an extra layer which is good for your hands due to its increased shock absorption capability.
If your playing style involves putting in a lot of force into the shot, you need a racquet with a thick handle. Adding an overgrip on your racquet can help you to easily achieve that.
An overgrip, depending on its construction material, can also come in handy for people with sweaty palms. Sweat absorbent overgrips keep your palms relatively dry and reduces the chances of the racquet slipping.
Tacky overgrips also reduce the chances of a racquet slipping from your hand. They are made from materials that make the racquet stick more to your hands which is quite advantageous in a competitive match.
If you are into the aesthetics of your racquet, you can get overgrips of whichever colors or patterns that best represent you.
Can I stack overgrips?
Yes, you can stack overgrips to any thickness that you’d like. Care should however be taken not to overdo it as it could increase the weight of the racquet. Overdoing it can also result in an imbalance on your racquet which can cost you a game.
Are there any disadvantages of using overgrips?
Using a thick layer of overgrip may bury the bevels in the handle which can throw off game because the handle feels more like a pipe.
A thick overgrip is good for absorbing shocks. While this is a good thing, it can also be a disadvantage because your hand gets only a fraction of the feedback from your shot.
If you have sweaty palms, your racquet may require plenty of time dry out before your next game. Also if not allowed to dry out properly, a fungal or microbial growth may occur within the inner layers of the handle.
Overgrips also wear our faster compared to the base grip or replacement grips. You therefore need to make constant changes to maintain the desired level of comfort and thickness.
When should I change my overgrips?
You should change your overgrip as it starts coming apart or when you start noticing a reduced thickness or a change in the way the racquet performs.
Do tennis pros use overgrips?
Yes, almost all tennis players use overgrips over their base or replacement grips.
What is a replacement grip?
A replacement grip is meant to replace the base or original grip of the racquet.
Replacement grips are made of materials such as leather, rubber or synthetic materials.
They are more expensive and harder to apply than overgrips but they can serve you for a longer period of time.
Why do I need a replacement grip?
A replacement grip adds a layer of cushioning on the handle. This increased level of comfort enables you to play better and for a longer period of time.
Replacement grips also offer the advantage of tackiness. They are designed with materials that make the racquet stick better to your hand when playing.
A replacement grip also absorbs sweat from your hands thus reducing the chances of the racquet slipping or rolling in your hands.
You can also increase the thickness of your racquet’s handle by using replacement grips made of rubber or synthetic materials.
A leather replacement grip offers less cushioning against impact as compared to the other materials. This is important to players who like to get a feel of the game.
Can I use overgrips over replacement grips?
Yes, you can use overgrips over replacement grips to increase the level of comfort, increase handle thickness, and to give the handle your preferred color.
Overgrips are also always needed with leather replacement grips because leather is very uncomfortable to the hand over extended periods.
Can I use overgrips as replacement grips?
No, you cannot use overgrips as replacement grips. This is because overgrips are made of light materials that are meant to be used over other grips and not on the bare handle. Overgrips also lack the adhesive material needed to stick and stay on the handle.
How often do I need to change my replacement grips?
This depends on several factors such as how often you use your racquet, how and where you store it, the material from which it is made, among many other factors.
However, on average, you many need to change them about 1 to 3 times a year.
Which replacement grips last longest?
Leather replacement grips last longer than rubber and synthetic ones. They are however also the most expensive replacement grips.
How do I take care of the base grip, overgrip and replacement grip?
You should have at least two racquets that you rotate between. This reduces the strain that you put on any one of them and they can serve you for longer.
Overgrips should always be changed regularly. Overgrips act as a layer of protection for the base grip and replacement grips. Changing them often means that you won’t need to buy replacement grips for a long period of time.
Leave your racquets in open air to dry out. This is good not only to the grip but also for your health. Racquets left in damp or closed spaces such as gym bags tend to attract the growth of fungi and other microbes.
Learn to put on the replacement and overgrips correctly. Doing this incorrectly can shorten their service life.