I was paired up with Kevin for a friendly game of padel at our Saturday evening beginner group. I noticed that he was white-knuckle squeezing his racket. Little wonder that he was complaining of elbow pain with so much tension in his forearm. During a break in play, I took a closer look at his racket and mentioned that he likely needed an overgrip.
That drew the expected “What’s that?” response. So I pulled out my phone and opened google so that I could show him.
What is a padel overgrip? New padel rackets are made with a layer of grip material over the handle designed to accommodate a fairly small hand. The overgrip refers to the grip material that you place over the primary grip. You use an overgrip to adjust the racket handle to the size of your hand.
There is a lot more to the intricacies of both grips and overgrips. This is not only in terms of how they are different, but also why you need them.
Grips VS Overgrips: Know The Difference
The grip of a padel racket is the usually padded layer of strapping that goes directly onto that racket handle. The padel racket grip will always have adhesive so that there is no chance of the grip moving on the racket handle.
By comparison, the overgrip is made from thinner material that has a rubbery texture that makes it easier to hold. Where the racket grip has adhesive all the way along its length, the overgrip only has adhesive at the ends. The combination of the rubbery texture and elastic stretch helps to keep the overgrip in place during play.
The non-adhesive nature of the overgrip means that it can be replaced quickly and easily mid-match without causing damage to the main racket grip.
Why You need a Grip On Your Racket
The hard outer skin of a padel racket is made from either fiberglass or carbon fiber. As that molded outer skin extends down into the handle it becomes a really strong and rigid hexagonal shape.
Having no grip at all would make just holding the racket very uncomfortable. For this reason, the primary grip on a padel racket is more padded than any overgrip layers.
Why You May Need An Overgrip On Your Racket
The use of overgrips allows players to customize their padel racket handle to the size of their hands.
The other option would be for racket manufacturers to make rackets with different size handles. Doing so would have meant a different mold for each different handle size for each model of padel racket. That would have caused a skyrocket in manufacturing costs and consequently would have priced padel rackets beyond the reach of most players.
The cost-effective solution is to produce overgrips that players can obtain cheaply and use to increase their padel grip as needed. This way a padel racket off the shelf can effectively be “one size fits all”.
How Many Overgrips Should You Use
The number of overgrips to use depends entirely on the player and the size of their hands. If you have large hands, two or maybe even three overgrips will be needed in order to have a comfortable grip on the racket.
A telltale sign that your padel racket grip is too small is if your fingertips can touch your palm while holding the racket. For me, the ideal is when I can place the index finger of my opposing hand in the space between the fingertips and palm of the hand holding the racket.
If the grip of your padel racket is too small it will cause you to squeeze the handle too tightly. Not only will this lock up your wrist and forearm thereby reducing your control of the padel racket, but it will also lead to elbow problems over time.
When Should You Change An Overgrip
One of the things that will affect your overgrip is sweaty hands. Overgrips are able to absorb sweat from your hand while you play, allowing you to keep control over the racket handle.
However, this is only true to a point. There have been scorching hot summer days that the overgrip of my padel racket is completely soaked through after around half an hour of play. Luckily with a little practice, it is possible to replace a padel racket overgrip in just a couple of minutes. That way you can complete your game with a fresh, clean, and dry overgrip.
Another factor to remember that because your overgrip can absorb sweat it is a good idea to let your padel tacket grip air dry after you have finished a game. That will extend the life of your overgrip before it starts to get dirty and smelly, another indicator that it is time for a replacement.
Don’t leave your padel racket on the back shelf of your car when not in use as the UV radiation will not only perish your overgrip very quickly, but it will also cause the EVA foam of your racket core to become brittle.
Overgrips And Padel Racket Head Balance
One of the ways that differentiate various models of padel racket is the position of the center of balance. Padel rackets that are weighted more towards the tip enable you to hit the ball a lot harder. This is not always a good idea for a beginner player on the small, confined space of the padel court.
Adding a single overgrip will add a small amount of weight to the racket handle. The effect will be a very small shift in the position of the racket’s center of balance.
However, if you have particularly large hands and need to add two or three overgrips this may cause a significant shift in the racket’s center of balance. In this instance, you need to bear this in mind when you purchase your racket and maybe choose a racket weighted more toward the tip to counterbalance the weight of your extra overgrips.
A Useful Solution For The Fashion Conscious Padel Player
There are some padel players for whom looking stylish on the padel court is vitally important.
The good news is that overgrips for padel rackets come in a wide variety of colors.
If you keep a choice of overgrip colors in your bag you will be able to change your overgrip to match the rest of your padel outfit.
Thin Gause Overgrips For Sweaty Hands
I remember back in the days when I used to play squash, our squash rackets had these thick, soft toweling grips. They were very good at absorbing the sweat from my hand during a game of squash.
The trouble was that after a couple of games that same soft toweling would get a little crusty for want of a better word. This would make the grip of my racket rather abrasive. Picture a grip made of sandpaper, and then holding the racket with a light finger grip. (See this article that I wrote about how to hold a padel racket.)
The light finger grip allowed the racket to move in my hand with each shot I played. The result was a chaffed-through blister on the inside of my thumb knuckle.
The answer was a super-thin roll of overgrip made from gauze. At the start of the game, I would put a single layer of gauze on my racket grip and remove it after the game.
I still keep a roll of that thin gauze overgrip tape in my bag just in case my padel racket gets very sweaty and I need a quick solution between games of a padel match.