Gear Q&A: Cures For Sweaty Palms
This past weekend was brutally hot and humid in my area. I always struggle to maintain a secure grip on my racquet under these conditions. Any suggestions?—Pat K., Valhalla, N.Y.
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Alas, the drawbacks of working up a good sweat. You can use jumbo wristbands and seek the towel between points, but it’s inevitable over the course of a match on a hot, sticky day that a grip will turn wet and slippery. I like the firm feel of a leather grip, but find it unmanageable once it gets soaked with sweat. Since I don’t want to carry around a pocketful of sawdust I use a tacky overgrip (Yonex Super Grap) that cushions the handle and is somewhat absorbent without being spongy. There are numerous other choices available—Tourna Grip is an old favorite and Wilson Pro works well—and most of the time it boils down to personal preference.
No matter which overgrip you use, however, there’s only so much moisture it can absorb. Unlike a shirt, which can be quickly changed, constantly reapplying a fresh overgrip is inconvenient and wasteful. It’s not a perfect fix, but something I have found effective in sweaty conditions is playing with at least two, sometimes three different frames. I make sure each has the same string and tension so the playing characteristics are identical. I line them up next to my chair and rotate between them at each changeover. That way I give the grip on the idle frame(s) time to air dry.
If overgrips don’t supply any relief, you sometimes need to go directly to the source. If you’ve got sweatier palms than a 15-year-old at the junior prom, there are various products, such as Grip Shield and Dry Grip, that serve as antiperspirants for the hands. Those who don’t like gels or lotions on their hands can opt for more old-school methods such as a rosin bag or a tacky towel (Tourna Tac Rag). Or you could go to the extreme and try covering your playing hand entirely with a glove. I can’t speak to its effectiveness, but it didn't stop Cliff Drysdale from making the Hall of Fame.