Is there a difference between a leftie grip and a right-handers' wrap? Are you afraid to cut? And do you staple or not? Don't tie yourself in knots when replacing your racket grip, follow our back-to-basics guide.
It is funny how nervous many of us are about replacing the grip on our rackets. Of course, your racket is an expensive piece of kit and no one wants to mess it up, but changing a grip is important to the way it feels and the way it "plays". Once you are used to it, changing a grip is strangely cathartic. Pre, or even during a match, it is a chance for a mindful moment, a time when you can put the match to one side. You could even go as far as to say that this ritual bonding with your old-faithful racket helps you play "as one".
Replacement or Over grip?
Replacement: Applied directly on to the handle of a racket, these (usually) have a sticky backing and offer a reasonable amount of cushioning. These are often bought in single grip packs. Use them to bulk out a grip if you have intentionally chosen a smaller racket handle.
Overgrip: Does not have a sticky backing and is typically much thinner. This is designed to be wrapped over a replacement grip which can be used to increase a grip size, add cushioning or extra tackiness for sweaty hands. It is cheaper to replace on a regular basis when worn out than a replacement grip. These are often bought in multiple packs of 3+ at a time.
Do I need an OVERGRIP?
This is partly down to personal preference. Replacement grips are sophisticated products and for some, the idea of covering up their functional surface just doesn't make sense. But if you want to prolong the life of the padded replacement grip and experiment with other grip textures, the overgrip is the way to go. Overgrips can also be a fun and inexpensive way to accessorise your racket.
Points to note when applying a replacement grip
The technique for applying an overgrip or a replacement grip is similar, but bear in mind, applying a replacement grip is more invasive. Not only do you have to remove any existing overgrip but you also have to strip off the existing (perhaps original) grip, leaving the bare bones of the racket handle exposed.
Because the replacement grip has a self-adhesive backing, it is a little harder to rectify errors - but you will still find the HEAD Hydrosorb reasonably forgiving if you have to partially remove it.
Additionally. you will notice if this is your fist time adding a replacement grip, the end of the original grip will have been stapled to the handle (this makes it a little less likely to come loose with wear, and also makes the application process easier). But you are probably unlikely to have an appropriate stapler and stapling the start of the grip is not strictly necessary - the adhesive should hold it in place.
Do remove any existing tape before you start. If the racket handle is a sticky mess, clean it as best you can but make sure the racket is dry before moving on.
Grip replacement technique
- Remove the existing overgrip and/or replacement grip.
- Push any existing rubber finishing collar above the end of the grip so it is out of the way.
- Unpack your grip, being careful not to discard the small piece of finishing tape (often wrapped round the grip)
- Start at the bottom of the racket. The easiest way to position yourself is with the racket in front of you, the racket head pressed gently into your body.
- Uncoil the whole grip, but (if it is the replacement grip) remove only the first few inches of the film protecting the self-adhesive layer.
- Looking at the racket end, as held away from your body, you will be wrapping with the grip to the right, clockwise round the handle. Turn the handle as you go, keeping the grip material taut but not over-stretched.
- Take care to cover the whole of the butt of the racket as you begin wrapping the grip round the racket handle.
- When you are satisfied the butt is covered, increase the angle of the wrap - ideally following closely the width of the new grip. (On the HEAD Hydrosporb you can easily see the desired overlap margin on the grip).
- Aim for as smooth and as even a wrap as you can, rotating the racket as you go and peeling back more of the self-adhesive protector (on replacement grips) as you go.
- When you reach the end of the handle you will most likely have some grip left over. This is to be expected. Continuing wrapping beyond the handle and the draw a horizontal line round the new grip where the handle ends. Unpeel a few inches of the grip and with a sharp pair of scissors, cut off the excess grip. You will now have a super-neat finish.
- Secure the end of the grip with the finishing tape and roll back the rubber finishing collar to cover it.
What about lefties?
This can be controversial. Some players are adamant that the direction in which a grip is wrapped matters, and that for a leftie, the grip should be wrapped anti-clockwise. We consulted Britain's best-known racket shop and acknowledged racket experts Wigmore Sport for the definitive answer.
"Grips should be wrapped the same way whether it is for left or right handed players," Fraser from the racket department told us. If correctly applied, the grip will work just the same for left or right-handed players.
Nevertheless, in a world where left-handers are often disadvantaged, you may well want to look for a grip that isn't pre-cut for right-handed wrapping, if only because wrapping right for a lefty may be harder!
The gift of gripping
Replacing grips really isn't all that hard and it is rewarding to master the technique. But even some very experienced players just don't like to go there. One of the nicest things someone can do for a fellow player, is offer to re-grip their racket. Donate the grip and you will have a friend for life.
Do check out the range of HEAD grips we have in our player shop!
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