Tennis Replacement Grips
A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide
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When you purchase a tennis racquet, it comes with a stock grip, which is attached to the handle to protect your hand and provide comfort.
Over time, these grips wear down, lose their cushion, and require players to swap them out for a new one. That’s where replacement grips come in.
Beyond wear and tear, it’s common for players who recognize their grip has an impact on the feel of their racquet to replace the original with one of the many available options they prefer.
In this guide, we’ll review the different types of replacement grips available, share when you should consider changing yours, and provide step-by-step instructions for installing a new one. We’ll also provide you with our picks for the best replacement grips on the market.
Below you’ll find a quick recap of our top picks.
|Gamma Ultra Cushion||Synthetic|
|Wilson Micro-Dry Comfort||Sweat absorption|
|Tourna Pro Thin||Thinnest|
|Head Hydrosorb Comfort||Thickest|
|Dunlop Gecko Tac||Tackiest|
|Head SofTac Traction||Durability|
|Wilson Cushion-Aire Perforated||Comfort|
|ilson Cushion-Aire Contour||Control|
For more options, check out the runner-up we mention for each category in the ‘best of section‘ of this guide.
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What is a Replacement Grip?
A replacement grip is a thick and durable cover applied to the hard surface of your racquet’s handle that forms the base for comfort and protection of your hand while playing tennis.
Synthetic materials dominate the market when it comes to replacement grips, but leather is another popular option.
Why Replacement Grips Matter
Although most players wouldn’t consider their grip an exciting piece of equipment, it’s a critical component to performance because it ensures you can properly hold and maintain control of your racquet.
Most premium tennis racquets come with a sufficient synthetic grip, so it’s understandable why people take them for granted. However, it’s beneficial for players to know that they’re not limited to their stock grip and how they can benefit from customization (more on this to follow).
Replacement Grips vs. Overgrips
A replacement grip is a thicker, durable, and long-lasting cover that’s applied directly to your racquet’s handle.
These more expensive grips tend to feature a top layer for traction, mid-layer foam or gel for comfort, and adhesive backing to ensure they stay fixed to the handle. Furthermore, replacement grips tend to take more time and effort to install correctly.
Although similar in function, an overgrip is a less expensive thinner cover that’s quickly wrapped on top of a replacement grip and frequently replaced to help players maximize traction and sweat absorption.
Overgrips Without Replacement Grips
Many players are curious whether or not they can use an overgrip without a replacement grip. The short answer is yes. However, we don’t recommend it for a few different reasons.
First and foremost, when you bought your racquet, you likely went through the motions of ensuring you had a properly sized grip. If you remove your thicker base grip and only use an overgrip, your racquet handle is going to be smaller, which can make it difficult for you to maintain control of your racquet.
Furthermore, you’ll most likely find that using an overgrip alone will lack comfort because an overgrip will be roughly three to four times thinner than many replacement grips that come with your racquet.
Last but not least, replacement grips weigh more than overgrips, so you’re going to change the balance of your racquet, which is likely an unintended side effect to keep in mind.
Types of Replacement Grips
There are a variety of replacement grips available from a host of different brands, but the two primary types of replacement grips are synthetic and leather. Let’s take a look at why you might want to use one over the other.
The vast majority of available replacement grips are synthetic. Within this category, you’ll typically find that they’re less expensive and offer a more extensive range of options. From varying thickness, texture, and tackiness to ribbed versions with more control, there’s all-around more variety.
Another benefit of synthetic grips is that they work well without an overgrip wrapped over the top. If you’re not a fan of regripping your racquet regularly, then these are a great option.
Last but not least, you’ll find that synthetic grips offer more comfort. Depending on the type of racquet or strings your using, this may be a welcome benefit. They’re also great for players suffering from arm injuries.
Players looking to maximize feel will appreciate the firm response-oriented characteristics of a quality leather replacement grip.
For years, leather grips were the gold standard. However, as the game and racquet technology evolved, tennis brands introduced synthetic materials to help increase traction, comfort, sweat absorption, and reduce costs.
These days, players who use a leather replacement grip install it as the base for their handle and then wrap an overgrip on top because the leather on its own can quickly become slippery.
The combination gives players the feedback they desire while still benefiting from the benefits synthetic overgrips provide.
When to Replace Your Grip
As you play tennis, your base grip will wear down and become less effective, which means you’ll need to replace it.
How often you play, and your preference for maintaining the efficacy of the grip will dictate the frequency at which your base grip requires replacement. To help determine when it’s time to change your grip, here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Comfort: As you play tennis, your base grip will lose its cushion due to the repeated compression. If you’re noticing that the handle of your racquet is becoming firm, it might be time to replace it.
- Traction: If you notice that your grip is becoming slippery or difficult to control due to sweat, then you might want to consider replacing your grip with a new one.
- Rips or Tears: If you wait long enough, your grip will start to fall apart with rips or tears occurring due to friction. If it gets to this point, then you’ve waited too long, and it’s time to replace it.
Another factor that can drastically improve the life of a replacement grip is whether or not you use overgrips, which wrap over the top.
Eventually, you may still need to replace your synthetic base grip because it loses its cushion. However, when using overgrips, many players will replace their racquet before replacing their base grip – especially if they’re using a leather grip as their base.
How to Choose a Replacement Grip
When evaluating or purchasing a replacement grip, players should consider the grip’s material, weight, length, thickness, and tackiness.
Choosing a replacement grip is a personalized experience, and there are no right or wrong answers to which grip you should use. However, by gaining an understanding of the common factors that differentiate grips, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision.
One of the quickest ways to narrow down your options is to decide whether you want to use a synthetic grip or leather.
If you’re looking for maximum comfort, want to spend the least amount of money, or aren’t interested in regularly regripping your racquet, then synthetic will be your best bet.
However, if you’re looking for maximum feel and don’t mind regularly swapping out your overgrip for a new one, then leather is a great option.
There are far fewer leather grips available, so if you choose to go in this direction, you’ll have narrowed your options significantly.
Synthetic replacement grips will vary in thickness from 1.19 to 2.10 mm, while leather grips will tend to range from 1.42 to 1.50 mm.
Generally, the thicker the grip, the more cushion, and sweat absorption it’s going to provide. Of course, leather is a dense material that won’t offer as much comfort as a synthetic grip of the same thickness.
If you suffer from arm injuries or tennis elbow, you’ll likely appreciate the increased comfort a thicker replacement synthetic grip will offer.
If you’re going with a synthetic grip, you’ll find grips with varying degrees of tack, which helps ensure the handle doesn’t spin or rotate in your hand.
Most synthetic replacement grips will feature some tack. However, options like the Prince ResiPro or Kirschbaum Soft Feel will feel soft to the touch if you’re not a fan of the tacky feeling.
Players using leather replacement grips will need to get their tack from the overgrip they apply on top.
Synthetic grips will be lighter, ranging from roughly 15 – 25 grams (.52 to .88 ounces), while leather grips will typically range from 20 – 30 grams ( .71 to 1.06 ounces).
When you change grips, you’re going to influence the total weight and balance of your racquet. Although you might not do anything to counteract the change in balance, it’s good to be aware.
To maintain the original balance, you’d have to customize your racquet by adding some weight to its head.
The exact length of a replacement grip doesn’t matter as much as whether or not it will fit the length of your racquet’s handle.
All replacement grips will fit stand length 27-inch racquets. However, if you’re using an extended length racquet, you’ll want to double-check that the grip your buying is long enough to cover the entire handle.
Most grips will range from 19 to 29 mm (3/4 to slightly over one inch) in thickness. Some players may notice a small change in feel with the number of times a grip wraps the handle, but for most, it’s of little consideration.
How to Install a Replacement Grip
Installing a replacement grip can be trickier than putting an overgrip on, but if you’re handy, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all.
Before you get started, here are the supplies you’ll need:
- New replacement grip
- Finishing tape (usually included with grip)
- Thin flathead screwdriver or needle-nose pliers
- Pen or permanent marker
- Double-sided tape (optional)
- Staple gun (optional)
Most replacement grips will come with an adhesive backing. If yours does, then you won’t need the double-sided tape to help keep it in place.
Similarly, most will install perfectly fine without stapling them to the butt cap to get the wrap started. However, if you’re dealing with a finicky or less pliable grip, a staple may be helpful.
Let’s walk through the installation process step-by-step.
Remove the finishing tape at the top of your handle that’s securing the grip in place.
Unravel the grip from your racquet.
If present, remove the staple that attached the grip to the butt of the racquet by prying it lightly with your flathead screwdriver or by carefully pulling it out with your pliers.
While the handle is exposed, remove any remaining residue that might have been left behind from the old grip.
A product like Goo Gone will be helpful for this purpose, but be careful with household cleaners that may damage the handle. Note: From the previous two steps, you’ll notice there was a thin plastic layer covering the grip, which was removed before using Goo Gone.
Make sure to thoroughly wipe the handle dry of any product you use to clean the residue so that the new replacement grip can stick properly.
If you use or are adding a rubber band-like collar to ensure the grip stays secure at the top, you’ll find it easier to put that on now.
Open your new replacement grip from its package and, if necessary, remove the protective plastic that covers the grip.
Remove the sticker backing from the piece of finishing tape included with your grip, and set it aside on a chair or table.
If the grip comes with an adhesive backing to help it stick to the handle, peel off roughly a foot of it from the tapered end, which you’ll use to begin wrapping the handle.
If you’re a right-handed player, you’ll want to wrap the handle from left to right. Left-handers will wrap the opposite direction from right to left.
Align the tapered end of the replacement grip with the edge of the racquet’s butt cap and hold it in place with your non-dominant hand.
Begin wrapping the replacement grip to the right if you’re right-handed and to left if you’re left-handed while keeping the grip aligned with the edge of the racquet’s butt cap until you’ve completed one full wrap.
As you wrap the replacement grip, be sure to apply adequate tension and pressure to ensure it lies flat.
If you’re working with a less pliable grip that’s giving you trouble wrapping from the start or the adhesive backing isn’t sticking well, this is the step where you’d want to add a staple. Place the staple at the tip of the tapered end of the grip perpendicular to the handle.
Once you’ve completed one full wrap of the handle, allow the replacement grip to overlap itself (fully covering the staple if used).
Then follow the natural angle created by the grip to wrap the full length of the handle to the top while allowing the grip to overlap itself by about 1/16 of an inch along the way so that it lies flush.
Keep light tension on the grip for a snug fit as you wrap. Don’t worry if you make a mistake along the way. Pull the grip back and realign as you go.
Wrap slightly above the top of the racquet’s handle and then place the racquet down on a table with the remaining grip on top.
Using your pen or marker, draw a line on the grip that aligns with the top edge of the handle. We’ve added a dotted line to make it easier to see.
Unwrap the replacement grip slightly to expose the line you drew.
Cut the replacement grip on the line you drew with a pair of scissors.
Grab your piece of finishing tape and stick it to the loose end of the grip and wrap it all the way around until it overlaps itself. It helps to keep tension on the finishing tape.
That’s it – you should have a fully regripped tennis racquet.
Best Replacement Grips
With well over a hundred replacement grips to choose from, we’ve picked a few of our favorites across the following nine categories to help you narrow down your options.
- Best overall leather
- Best overall synthetic
- Sweat absorption
We’ll mention a runner up for the non-overall categories to give you a handful to choose from if you have a specific preference in mind.
Best Overall: Leather – Tourna
Tourna is one of the best-known grip manufacturers around, and their ultra-responsive replacement grip is our pick for the best overall.
When it comes to leather grips, we like high-quality leather that’s clean, simple, and unbranded, and Tourna Leather replacement grips deliver.
These grips also come with beveled edges and adhesive backing so that the grip wraps flush and lies flat for an easy install.
Best Overall: Synthetic – Gamma Ultra Cushion
Our pick for the best overall synthetic replacement grip goes to the Gamma Ultra Cushion, which is available as a standard textured version as well as a ribbed contour option for extra control.
At 1.90 mm thick and 27 mm wide, this grip provides players with plenty of cushion and tack for a well-balanced grip that we find to be a great all-around option that suits a wide range of player preferences.
Sweat absorption: Wilson Micro-Dry Comfort
If you’re a big fan of replacement grips that help absorb sweat, then the Wilson Micro-Dry Comfort is your best bet.
With a higher-end thickness of 2.20 mm, soft touch, and micro-perforations throughout the length of the grip, we’ve found it to have the best sweat absorption of any replacement grip.
As a runner up, we’d recommend you check out the Head Hydrosorb Tour, which is 1.75 mm thick, offers excellent absorption, as well as a channel that helps ventilate the grip as you’re playing with it.
Thinnest: Tourna Pro Thin
If you’re looking for a synthetic grip that offers the feel and response of leather, then check out the Tourna Pro Thin, which is only 1.25 mm thick, but also has perforation for sweat reduction and some decent tack.
A great alternative is the Prince ResiThin, which is slightly thicker at 1.40 mm. Keep in mind that if you opt for either of these options, they’re going to reduce your grip size by roughly one size.
Thickest: Head Hydrosorb Comfort
The Head Hydrosorb Comfort is one of the thickest replacement grips on the market coming in at 2.10 mm and, as the name suggests, offers high-comfort and a more subtle tackiness.
Our pick for the best overall synthetic grip, the Gamma Ultra Cushion, is another great option that’s 1.90 mm thick.
The thickest grip we’re aware of at 2.40 mm is the Prince DuraSoft Plus (not to be confused with the DuraPro Plus), but as far as we know, it’s discontinued.
Tackiest: Dunlop Gecko Tac
If you love the secure feel of a tacky grip, then the Dunlop Gecko Tac is a great option that will help keep your racquet firmly in place.
The Gamma Hi-Tech Perforated grip is another reliable option that offers substantial tack combined with great durability.
Durability: Head SofTac Traction
Our pick for the most durable replacement grip is the Head SofTac Traction, which features a tough high-density polyurethane. At 1.80 mm thick, it also has good tack and air channels to help handle sweat.
Gamma Hi-Tech, which we also enjoy for its extra tack, is another option to check out if you’re looking for a durable grip.
Comfort: Wilson Cushion-Aire Perforated
If you’re looking to reduce the harsh shock and vibration that can often accompany playing tennis, then we recommend checking out the popular Wilson Cushion-Aire. It’s 1.80 mm thick and has perforation throughout the grip to help increase traction and deal with sweat.
Our pick for the thickest replacement grip at 2.1 mm also happens to be another terrific option for comfort.
Control: Wilson Cushion-Aire Contour
The Cushion-Aire Contour has a distinctive ridge throughout to give it an ultra-textured feel that helps keep your grip stable with comfort. It features a mid-range thickness of 1.80 mm and is tacky with plenty of absorption for sweat.
The Gamma Ultra Cushion Contour is the ribbed version of our best overall pick for a synthetic grip, which we’d recommend you check out as a fall back if you’re looking for a grip with maximum control.
Replacement Grips and Tennis Elbow
If you’re suffering from an arm injury like tennis elbow or even mild arm discomfort, then a replacement grip can be a great option to help reduce shock and absorb vibration you feel when hitting.
Our favorite options for players who suffer from tennis elbow include:
- Head Hydrosorb Comfort
- Wilson Cushion-Aire Perforated
- Gamma Ultra Cushion
Beyond swapping out your base grip for a new one, you may want to consider replacing your grip at a higher frequency than most other players to help maintain the highest level of comfort.
Your grip is the only point of contact between your hand and your racquet, so playing with a worn-out replacement grip can make it challenging to handle your racquet and perform at your best.
Compared to the cost of most tennis equipment, a replacement grip is a relatively inexpensive investment to help maintain your racquet.
Finding the perfect replacement grip will usually require a bit of trial and error, but hopefully, our guide has helped point you in the right direction.
If you have any questions or want to share your favorite replacement grip, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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