We all know that matching the correct equipment with the correct player is crucial in a technical sport like tennis. You can walk down the aisle of a sports store and see hundreds of rackets on one side and only four different basketballs on the other. It seems excessive, but there is a reason for every variety of tennis racket. With such a massive selection, which will win the battle and be the best suited for you? Here are some tips for picking a grip, which is a fundamental piece of equipment that is often overlooked.
Round 1: Leather vs. Cushion
Leather grips were the only grips used on tennis rackets for many years, and although not much has progressed on this technology, there are benefits to using leather grips. Leather is stronger, heavier and natural in composition. Accordingly, you can feel the shape with all the bevels (panels) becoming very pronounced to find your grip easily. The strength creates longer durability, the weight adds a distinctive feel which some players appreciate, and the material tends to be more absorbent, thus prolonging the time before it becomes slippery. Cushion grips were introduced later on as a softer alternative. There is more cushioning, as the name obviously states, so one gets a softer feel that is more forgiving. This also reduces shock and vibrations passed to the elbow, as well as lessening blisters. There is a huge array in this style with different colors, textures, thicknesses, etc. Like cars, the choice in racket grips becomes a preference of comfort versus performance.
Round 2: Tacky overgrips vs. Absorbing overgrips
Overgrips are very thin grips placed on top of a racket’s existing grip. They are easier to change, cheaper to buy, but are less durable. When the torque of shots causes the racket to twist and turn in your hand, you can quickly add and/or switch overgrips to fix this issue. Tacky overgrips are for players with drier hands where the grip’s stickiness adds traction. Absorbing overgrips are for players who have sweaty palms. These players require a spongy material to counter their sweat and maintain their grip. Some players even use tacky overgrips when indoors, and change to absorbing overgrips when playing in hot and humid conditions.
Round 3: Self-installation vs. Pro installation
This is more of a no-contest when it comes to grips because most players are not seasoned enough to install a grip. Sure, anyone can throw a grip over the handle, but a grip technician can make it perform for you. I personally invite all of you to come feel the difference. When a grip is properly installed you get several benefits. First, the grip goes completely to the bottom to reduce blisters and calluses. Brand new rackets that are factory gripped do not do this. Second, you get a smoother surface that doesn’t have grooves (unless you specifically request it), holes, etc. Those very imperfections reduce friction and are a nuisance. Third, the grip is appropriately finished at the top. I constantly see nightmare grip jobs where players continue the grip all the way up the throat without trimming it to size. Fourth, most tennis shops don’t even charge to professionally install grips, so you have nothing to lose!
Round 4: Lefty vs. Righty
Did you know that you must grip a racket differently for a right-handed player and a left-handed player? Whether a grip wraps clockwise or counter-clockwise affects how your hand and fingers fit with the tread of the grip. Most rackets are manufactured righty, but can be adjusted for a lefty. There is even a way to grip for a one-handed backhand or two-handed backhand.
Round 5: Small vs. Large
The game of tennis is constantly evolving and the grip of a racket is no different. As players evolve from continental to eastern to western; grip size aids technique for those very grips. Generally, the smaller the grip size, the more the player can hit topspin and have extreme grips. If you like to flatten out your shots, move to a larger grip size. A bigger grip can also ease tennis elbow.
So what is the winning combination for you? There is no exact answer, but being knowledgeable and picking appropriately makes a colossal difference. Don’t just get your equipment online and lose out on catering your equipment to you. Get a grip on your game and feel the difference.
<p>Roman Prokes has perfected his art of gripping by traveling with the most finicky players like Agassi, Haas, Sharapova, Berdych, etc. He has traveled the world over not only to string rackets, but to also put on customized grips. He has produced several grips which are world-renowned, like RPNY Artificial Leather, RPNY Tacky and RPNY Cushion Perforated. For more information, call (516)759-5200 or visit <a onclick="window.open(this.href,'wwwRPNYtenniscom','resizable=yes,location=yes,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,status=yes,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,status'); return false" href="http://www.RPNYtennis.com">www.RPNYtennis.com</a>.</p>