My Cart

Ultimate Guide to Pickleball Paddle Grips

Pickleball is growing fast and so is its competitive scene. As the stakes grow higher, the need for proper gear increases and one of the biggest upgrades you can make to your paddle is to add to it a good grip.
Ultimate Guide to Pickleball Paddle Grips Featured Image

Proper grips have been an integral part of tennis players’ equipment for decades, and we’re starting to see it on the pro scene with pickleball, but what is going on under our hands?

First, let's talk about the handle, the part that's actually connected to the paddle. Unfortunately, handle quality varies immensely – many companies still cut costs with cheaper constructions – but I’m confident that this will change over time, as it did in tennis.

While I value a well-constructed handle, the good news is that they become largely irrelevant once you add a good replacement grip and overgrip on top; let’s start with the replacement grip.

Replacement Grips 

The replacement grip is what you see when you buy a paddle. They are wrapped directly onto the handle and provide a layer of comfort and cushioning. Unfortunately, they also vary significantly in quality, especially stock ones.

Joola, in particular, has some of the worst stock replacement grips of any paddle. They feel cheap and don’t last long, a clear sign of cost-cutting from the brand. The good news is, replacement grips are just that, they are replaceable, and there are some much more premium options available.

Any replacement grip from the big tennis brands will be significantly better than the average stock replacement grip. They’ve been making them for longer with much more competition to be the best, so naturally, they are top quality.

Three categories of replacement grips are worth noting: standard, thin, and textured grips.

Standard Replacement Grips: This is the most common type of replacement grip and either comes with a smooth finish or a perforated one. Players who sweat a lot tend to prefer perforated grips, although there is a style of overgrip we’ll talk about later that is much more effective for big sweaters. Wilson Sublime is our favourite perforated replacement grip.

There is a wider variety of choices with smooth replacement grips, the main difference being the cushioning they provide. These are small differences, but still worth noting: Head Hydrobsorb Pro is slightly more cushioned, while Babolat Syntec Pro and Wilson Pro Performance are firmer.

   

Thin Replacement Grips: Thin replacement grips are used for a couple of reasons: you either like their firmer feel or you want to make your handle smaller. Because they are thinner, they are less cushioned, so you will feel more of the bevels underneath. Many players like this because it makes for a more solid connection to your paddle, but I would only recommend a thin replacement grip if you have a very high quality handle. A thin grip accentuates any imperfection, so if they are poorly made, they will feel very weird under too thin a grip.

A more practical use of the thin replacement grip is to make a handle smaller. Not many paddles come in different grip sizes (shoutout Gearbox), and while it’s easy to add material to make it bigger, this is the best option for reducing it. Wilson Feather Thin is by far the thinnest replacement grip. It is so thin that you have to be very careful not to tear it, but it also makes the grip one size smaller.

Of course, you can also scrap the replacement grip and throw an overgrip directly on the handle, but we rarely recommend it because a bit of cushioning is important if for no other reason than to smooth out imperfections in the handle itself. Some players swear by this, and this is actually the method Selkirk uses to change their grip sizes, so feel free to experiment. Alternatively, you can Lizard Skins which will do a similar job while still providing a more traditional replacement grip feel.

 

Textured Replacement Grips: Finally, we have textured replacement grips, which are a dying breed in other court sports but are still very common on pickleball paddles. In fact, the initial batches of the Shapeshifter Chorus that I am currently reviewing have a ribbed replacement grip, but later batches will not.

Whereas other replacement grips are designed to lie flush on the handle, textured replacement grips provide some form of pattern to use as a reference point in your hand. The most common textured grip has an abruptly ribbed section in the middle; this is what we see on the Shapeshifter and, more famously, on the original Joola Ben Johns Hyperion from a couple of years back. The Wilson Cushion-Air Classic Countour has that same ribbed design, and the Wilson Shock Shield Hybrid has a more mellow raised section.

It’s important to note that while these do a good job of adding handle feel, they have lost popularity over the years because their texture clashes with the natural texture that comes from applying an overgrip. Using an overgrip is almost necessary nowadays, so now let's talk about why.

 

Overgirps

Replacement grips are important but are a little limited in how much they can adapt to each player. Overgrips provide more variety for feel, especially in terms of moisture-wicking and “stickiness,” which affects how much grip each player has. The type of overgrip you choose basically comes down to how much you sweat because the primary purpose of an overgrip is to give you the most grip possible. We’re going to discuss three types today, the sticky grips, the well-rounded grips, and the dry grips, to better explain which one is right for you.

It’s also important to note that overgrips are very thin, so don’t worry too much about making your handle too big; that rarely happens.

Sticky grips: This is by far the least common overgrip and often gets confused for well-rounded overgrips, but these are distinctively sticky, not tacky, almost unpleasantly so. They’re so sticky that they will catch any dirt that touches them and only work for players who sweat very little.

That might sound counterintuitive — if you sweat a lot, wouldn’t you want something very sticky — but these are so sticky that they become slick once in contact with moisture. They’re quickly too slippery and make you lose grip rather than help with it. I like to call sticky grips “winter grips” because that’s the only time I can ever use them; in extreme cold temperatures where I have no chance of sweating.

Still, some people swear by these because they grip so well when dry. These are probably the same people who never have to worry about a clammy handshake, but unfortunately, that’s not me. If that’s you, try Gamma Supreme for a (slightly) more mellow amount of stick or Tourna Mega Tac if you want to go all out.

$9.98
$9.98
$9.98
$9.98

Well-rounded Overgrips: This is the most popular overgrip, and it gets mistaken for sticky grips because it is also quite tacky. The difference here is that these combine that tackiness with a sort of dry grit, which almost totally eliminates the “slippery” issue I mentioned earlier.

Yonex Super Grap and Wilson Pro Overgrip are the most popular and feel virtually identical. They are 50/50 in terms of grit and tackiness. Ronbus Premium Tacky and Head Extreme Soft are a little more tacky but still far from what I categorized as the sticky grips. Head Prime Tour feels very similar to Super Grap and Wilson Pro but is a little wider, so it will work great if you have thicker fingers.

Well-rounded grips work for most people, from dry to sweaty hands, but those with very sweaty hands may prefer the last style of overgrip.

Dry Overgrips: Those who use dry overgrips swear by them like nothing else in the world, and I am one of those people. For so long, I wondered why I never had a firm grip of my tennis racket, and then I tried Tourna Original XL overgrip. More commonly known as juts "Tourna Grip", it revolutionized my tennis, and while it’s not as important in pickleball because the contact is less violent, I still use it pretty much every time I go out.

Why do I like it so much? Because I sweat like a fire hydrant, and dry grips completely transform when they come into contact with moisture.

When the dry overgrip gets wet, it soaks up water, almost like a shammy, and becomes extremely grippy. When “activated,” it actually feels similar to what those well-rounded overgrips feel like to most people. I love my dry overgrips, and like I said, really struggle to play without them. While Tourna is my favourite (and I think the most effective), you can also try Ronbus Premium Dry Overgrips, CRBN DryTec Overgrips or Nadal’s favourite Babolat VS Original. I highly recommend trying Tourna Grip first, though.

There are a couple of downsides to using a dry overgrip. For one, if you don’t sweat enough, they are very rough and can cause discomfort, even blistering. If I ever take a long enough break from court sports, I will have to go back through the blistering and callousing process, but it’s entirely worth it for the amount of grip they provide. If you don’t sweat profusely, though, go for the well-rounded overgrips. They have 90% of the moisture-soaking characteristics and are much more comfortable.

Dry overgrips are also not durable at all. Unfortunately, I’ll start to tear through my Tourna Grip in two sessions just because that rough texture and my calloused hand can cause quite a bit of friction. Remember, though, these are $10 for a pack of three, so going through them won’t break the bank.

That’s it! That’s everything you need to know about grips for a pickleball paddle; most high-level players will combine a premium replacement grip with whatever overgrip complements their hands. Trial and error is the best way to find out what works best for you, so please don’t hesitate to visit us in-store or buy any of these grips online.

Related Articles