When you start playing tennis (or any new sport), you’ll find that there’s a lot more to it than originally meets the eye. Understanding the key differences between grip and overgrip is one of the things you’ll learn as you start your tennis journey.
Grip vs Overgrip: What’s The Difference? The difference between grip and overgrip is that grip is a more cushioned, longer-lasting grip on the bottom of your racquet, and overgrip is a thinner tape-like material on top of the grip that is changed often.
Let’s Start With What Grip and Overgrip Are Not
If you’re a newbie to the sport, it might seem that the terms grip and overgrip refer to how the player holds the racket. Since the way a player holds their racquet is critically important, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s what this article is referring to.
However, that’s not the case, here’s what you need to know about grips and overgrips.
What Is the Grip?
The grip is the part wrapped around the handle at the bottom of the racket. It’s usually made of leather or synthetic leather, and it has a good amount of cushioning to make the racket more comfortable to hold. Your grip will last around six months or so, depending on how much you play.
When you buy a tennis racket, it will have a grip on it. This is true whether you’re getting a pre-strung racket from a big-box store or if you’re buying a racket that you have strung with your own preferred type of string and tension.
What Is Overgrip?
Well, it’s pretty aptly named. Overgrip goes over the grip. You’ll have to wrap a layer of the overgrip on top of your grip, since rackets don’t come with it included. It’s a much thinner, cloth-like material with less adhesive than the grip, and you’ll need to replace it every six to eight hours of play time.
Overgrip adds some additional cushion, but its main purpose is to protect the grip. It can also offer additionally functionality as you play. Some overgrips are more absorbant, so if you’re prone to sweating or know the conditions will be hot, you might want to put on an overgrip that has more absorption.
On the other hand, some overgrips have a tacky texture, and that can help keep the racket in place while you play and prevent blisters. However, it can become unpleasant if your hands to become overly sweaty or wet.
If it seems like you’ll be changing your overgrip all the time, that’s okay. If don’t change your overgrip often, and especially if you if store your tennis rackets in your bag or the trunk of your car, your overgrip can break down very quickly.
It can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, which could make you sick or cause infections on your hands.
Do the Pros Use Overgrip?
Definitely. Professional tennis players don’t change out their leather grips out every week. Many of them use overgrips and have specific brands or types that they prefer.
Don’t feel as though changing out your overgrip is something you do because you’re not a serious player or that the gold standard of racquet care would be to change the grip itself.
Pros will almost always change their overgrip in between matches, so they get pretty good at it and can do it fairly quickly. If you’re planning to compete, then you should probably also get good and quick at replacing your overgrip just in case you have to do it on the fly.
How to Buy Grip and Overgrip
Neither one of these tennis accessories is particularly expensive, especially compared to other tennis accessories like frames and strings. However, overgrip does tend to be the less expensive of the two. You’ll get more of the overgrip per package, since it will be replaced more often.
Despite the fact that an overgrip can lengthen the lifespan of your grip, you will eventually need to replace it. When you do, make sure the product that you’re buying says “replacement grip” or “base grip.”
The grip has adhesive along the entire width of the grip, whereas the overgrip tends to only have adhesive on the outer edges. Therefore, it can be a bit more difficult to replace the grip just because you’re dealing with more stickiness. However, it’s not particularly difficult to put on either the grip or the overgrip.
I listed some of the most popular overgrips in this post.
How to Apply Overgrip to Your Racket
Although it’s important to do it properly and take your time, what you’re doing, in essence, is just wrapping tape around the handle of your racket. That being said, there are some key things to remember when you’re installing your overgrip on your racket.
- Pull the clear plastic off of the back of the tape.
- Begin taping at the bottom of the racket. Line up the beginning of the tape along one of flat sides of the butt cap. Place your thumb on the edge of the tape and hold firmly.
- If you’re right-handed, pull the tail end of the overgrip out towards the right. If you’re left-handed, hold the tape with your right thumb and pull the tail end of the tape out towards the left.
- Keep tension on the tape and begin to wrap around the entirety of the racket.
- Once you’ve made a complete loop, continue to hold tension and angle the tape downwards at slightly less than a 45-degree angle.
- Continue wrapping, holding tension and keeping the angle as consistent as possible.
- Once you reach the other end of the handle, wrap an additional layer of tape higher than you actually want the overgrip to be. Outline the edge of the base grip with a pen, unwrap that last extra piece of tape, and use scissors to cut along the pen mark.
- This should give you a straight line at the end of the tape. Use the included finishing tape around the top edge to ensure you have a strong seal.
This sounds like a lot of steps, but remember that you’ll be doing this every one to two weeks, so you’ll develop your technique fairly quickly.
You can learn more about regripping a tennis racquet in this post.
How to Apply a Replacement Grip
The process for applying a replacement grip are similar to replacing the overgrip. Start by completely removing the previous grip. If it is your first time changing the grip, there may be a staple near the butt cap that you can remove with pliers.
If you choose, you can also use a staple gun to further secure the grip you’re putting on, but it isn’t necessary.
If you’re planning to use a grip band on top of your finishing tape, it’s easiest to put it on before you begin the wrapping process and slide it out of the way.
Hold tension on the grip and wrap it around, overlapping the grip very slightly, about 1/16th of an inch. Some grip brands will have a border on them so that it’s easier to line them up correctly. Follow the same process for continuing to wrap and marking the place to cut the excess.
Apply the finishing tape and grip band, if using, and you’re all good to go!
Are There Rules About Grip and Overgrip?
No. The ATP Rulebook only references grip in the sense that if a player causes a delay of the game because they’re adding gripping material to their racket, they can be penalized.
Therefore, some players may play with only a grip and no overgrip, multiple layers of overgrip on top of their grip, or even no grip and just layers of overgrip. It’s really up to what feels comfortable for you.
Grip and overgrip make it more comfortable to hold your tennis racket, and the cushioning helps prevent damage to your hands. When you begin playing tennis, experimenting with different types of overgrip is a good way to get to know your racket.
Use different brands or combinations to find what works best for you. Dialing this in will make playing more tennis more fun and will encourage you to keep getting out on the court.