Tennis players seem to always be fighting for proper grip on the racquet. It can seem like a lost cause at times, as a combination of hot temperatures and running around at full speed causes uncontrollable sweat.
Despite all this, it’s very rare to see a pro-level tennis player wearing gloves. In other sports like baseball, golf, and football, players rely on gloves for extra grip. Why doesn’t it work in tennis?
These are the top reasons why tennis players don’t wear gloves when on the court.
1. Less Feel
Tennis players rely heavily on feel when they are playing. As soon as the glove goes on, a little bit of feel is lost. That might not matter in a lot of sports, but just a subtle difference can change everything in tennis.
If a player does decide to go with a glove, they usually opt for something very thin. Getting an extra bit of feel makes an overall difference that is hard to argue with.
The players have grown up for years and years not wearing a glove, so it will take a long time to get that feeling back with any type of material getting in the way.
Feel and touch is necessary since there are an array of shots every tennis player must master. If they don’t feel the feedback with each shot, the shots have a chance of being slightly off. In tennis, just slightly off can be a huge difference.
2. Too Much Slipping Around
Since gloves aren’t particularly popular in tennis, the standard procedure is to borrow from another sport. That might not work too well, as it causes a lot of slipping around if not built for specific tennis movements.
It’s important to keep in mind that tennis players don’t use the very same grip for every shot. Even within a point, players can switch up the grip several times. If there’s any slippage whatsoever, it’s going to set a player back.
A grip slips even without a glove, but all this does is add something else that a person can blame their poor play on. When sweat builds up within the glove, slippage begins.
3. Hands Become Warmer
Adding even the slightest amount of material to the hands will make them slightly warmer. Players already have a hard time keeping their hands dry, so trapping that sweat inside could cause even more problems.
Warm hands are tough to deal with because they get out of control as time goes on with sweat. Players usually find that they can handle hand temperature better without gloves on. It allows them to dry out a bit with the sun and air.
4. Overgrips Exist
A normal grip can get very slippery. That’s why companies started creating what is known as overgrips. It’s a thin grip that goes over a standard tennis grip and provides additional value.
Within the overgrip category, there are a few choices people can explore. Some like a tacky overgrip that makes it easier to hold onto at any time. The Wilson Pro Overgrip and Yonex Overgrap are two popular choices in that category.
A dry overgrip that becomes more effective when it becomes damp is another option. Players have sworn by Tournagrip for years, as it’s a leading option in this category. It feels a little weird when first used, but players get used to it.
5. Drying Agents
Drying agents are used in a variety of sports to get a better grip. Essentially, it is either chalk, rosin, or a liquid substance that becomes sticky once applied and dried. Available from several manufacturers at different price points, it can be a way to consistently improve grip as time goes on.
With this type of added grip, it reduces the need for a glove. A glove becomes more slippery as time goes on. Meanwhile, dry agents can just be reapplied. Not everyone loves the feel of chalk on their hands, but it’s a method that has worked for a long time.
Something a little similar that falls in this category is sawdust. Ivan Lendl is one famous tennis player who used sawdust the same way that people use rosin. It’s all a matter of personal preference when it comes to that.
6. Towel Breaks
There is free time between every point. Players must move at a fairly fast pace, but there is time to towel off if necessary. In most cases, umpires will give professional players a little bit more time to towel off if it is a particularly hot match.
Towel breaks can help a player reset themselves as well. Too many people get in the habit of not taking advantage of towel breaks, and they end up in a pretty tough situation overall.
7. Blisters and Sores
When blisters and sores become an issue, a glove might turn into a negative. That’s because it’s different from how a player uses their racquet on a traditional basis.
The only way a person can completely avoid blisters and sores is to always use gloves while playing. Since most people are only making the transition, they just don’t bother with them in the first place.
8. Sponsorship Implications
Tennis players turn to sponsors for just about everything that they use. That can make some things tricky, as no tennis sponsor wants to be associated with a player who has to use something else for everything to play appropriately.
Take a racquet or grip manufacturer. If a player has to wear a glove to use it properly, it might be looked at negatively. Until tennis gloves become more mainstream with glove use, no one wants to approach it this way.
A glove manufacturer might attempt to get a player into using a glove at some point. It would take a player with a pretty open mind before that happens though.
Are There Positives To Gloves In Tennis?
Despite so many tennis players strongly against gloves, some positives to them have players using them with their play.
For starters, gloves can enhance grip when used correctly. Players must get the best fit for them so that they work as they should. If the glove starts to catch up even a little bit, it can cause issues.
Gloves help keep hands warm when the temperature drops a bit. It’s a huge benefit for any player in colder locations. While most tennis players avoid adding heat to their hands, it comes in handy then.
Finally, gloves work great for protection in some instances. If there’s a cut or bruise on the hand, it acts as a second skin. Players have to be careful that the glove doesn’t rub the wrong way, but it’s worth investing in a good setup if possible.
Will Gloves Ever Become Popular in Tennis?
Something would have to change as far as glove technology is concerned for it to catch on. Too many players like the overall feel of the tennis racquet, and they don’t want to sacrifice that feel by putting a glove on.
This isn’t to say that playing with a glove is completely against the rules. It’s still popular at the recreational level, particularly with older players. However, it will take an entire change to the mindset of tennis players to become mainstream.