TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.
Hey Justin, I am a 5.0 player using a Babolat AeroPro Drive with RPM Blast and XCel strings. My game is built on a driving topspin, which tends to lead to blisters. I am currently using a Wilson Pro Overgrip. What are some solutions? Should I elect to go with a tackier grip or a softer, more cushioned grip? Thanks for your opinion.—Roger Najalkovic
Tennis blisters are tricky, Roger, as their cause—namely, friction caused by the grip rubbing against the hand—is endemic to hitting each shot. Nevertheless, there are several equipment tweaks you can make to reduce your chances of blistering.
For starters, create an emphasis on keeping your grip dry at all times. A clammy handle is more likely to twist and turn upon impact—a surefire way to aggravate your hands. To this end, prevent sweat from running down your arm by toweling off in between points and/or wearing wristbands. You may also want to look into Zeasorb, a powder that, according to the company, absorbs moisture and thus reduces friction and heat.
If you try keeping dry, but the problem persists: Consider increasing your grip size—whether by layering multiple grips or buying new sticks. Smaller grips, as expected, tend to move against the hand more than larger grips, a circumstance that, again, can increase the likelihood of blisters.
When it comes to grip types, particularly tacky vs. synthetic grips, I’ve heard it both ways. Some say that tackier grips, such as your Wilson Pro Overgrip, are good tennis medicine for blisters, because they reduce slippage and thus friction. Other, however, report that these overgrips’ added abrasiveness can actually aggravate blisters further. (However, all agree that the blister prone avoid leather grips.) Judging only by my own personal experience, I would place myself in the former camp, and recommend that, whichever grip you choose, you change them out very regularly.
(Aside: If blisters are forming on your palm, try wrapping the grip such that it overlaps the butt cap’s hard edges. Best not have those digging into your hand.)
Finally, if you’re currently suffering from a blister, but must play regardless, consider liquid bandage products such as Newskin, or classic remedies such as moleskin and/or athletic tape, all of which provide relief by creating barriers between the irritation and its source.
Again, if the problem persists, I recommend that you consult with a qualified dermatologist. They should be able to prescribe a treatment specific to your pathology.