by Pickleball Coach Joe Palmere Jr. 4/23/2020 ©
Grip circumference size can be increased or decreased with a variety of brand name replacement grips. Check the packaging it will give the grip thickness in mm.
A 1.25mm is about as thin as they come. This will reduce a 4.5″ factory grip circumference to 4 1/8.”But there is a little know trick when rewrapping a paddle grip. After removing the original grip material wipe off the exposed surface of the handle with denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol to remove any residue from the old grip. A light sanding of the exposed wood with x-fine sandpaper also removes residue. Be careful not to round out the 6 sided hexagon shape of the handle. That is there for a purpose. Tennis racquets use 8 side octagon shape handles. Again for a purpose.
Another tip I will share is to remove the butt cap and leave it off. Its more decorative than functional. You will pick up another half inch of useable handle to reach those wide shots. Plus it make the application of a new grip neater. The butt cap end will expose the wood of the handle. Use a extra wide black permanent marker pen to color that in.
When ready to begin rewrapping of your paddle handle, first secure the paddle face (wrapped inside a bath towel) in between a sibling or or spouse’s knees, with the handle pointing out and unencumbered. The replacement grip material has a sticky side covered by tape. Peel off the tape about half way. Start the initial application of wrapping as tight as possible, without breaking off the handle or pulling it out of your assistants grip.
Find the starting end of the replacement wrap. It is usually tapered towards the end. Also make sure any logos are upright and not upside down. Sure give-away of an armature paddle smith at work.
I usually put a 2″ strip of 1/4″ wide black paddle edge tape on the starting edge to overlap onto the bare wood handle. This helps secure the first wrap in place as you wind the wrap carefully and slowly around the handle. Here is where it gets tricky. Most all rewrap has some stretchability.
Apply just enough pressure to stretch the wrap without pulling the paddle out from in between your assistants knees. The wrap needs to be applied as tight as possible without breaking off the handle end. As you wrap the lower end with one hand. hold the upper end of the handle in the other hand to prevent torqueing and possible breakage.
You will then make overlapping wraps of grip wrap material around the exposed handle. Make sure you do not overlap more than 1/8 to 1/4″. Keep your wraps neat, evenly spaced and snug as you proceed up the handle.
Finish the last wrap at the top edge of the handle just below the throat where the wood handle ends. This last wrap is extremely important. Do not overlap more than one covering of new wrap to finish off the top.
There should be only a 1/2″ overlap at the top of the handle so the sticky side will lay securely contacting the preceding wrap. As you begin to near the end you can also taper the the end of the new wrap so it angles upward for a more finished look. Again apply a 2″ strip of paddle edge tape to the end to help hold it in place to keep the sticky side in place.
You can also add one layer of paddle edge tape over top of the new wrapping so it stays in place. After you have completed rewrapping the handle, use you hand to press the new wrapping down against the wood handle in continuous spiral motions, following the wrapping from bottom to top. No edges of the wrap should be sticking up. If so, smooth them down onto the handle with hand pressure all around the grip bottom to top. Make it look like a professional job.
To finish off the wrap and smooth out the entire surface, and minimize your grip circumference to its smallest possible size, use a ball of heavy packaging cord available at Home Depot or UPS stores. Again you will need an assistant to hold the paddle face securely.
Start wrapping the cord over the new grip material, as tightly as possible, keeping the cord neatly aligned together all way up the handle of the paddle. When you reach the top, come back down and tie off the end so it does not unravel. Allow the paddle to stand upside down over night.
The next morning, un wrap the package cord and you should have a neat glove fitting grip of the smallest possible circumference. You want to be able to feel the solid wood handle inside the wrapping, as the ball contacts the surface of the paddle.
This will help you develop a better feel of the ball as it contacts your paddle. And determine whether or not you need to increase or decrease pace and power.
If you have done a good snug wrap you will have a good portion of new wrap unused. Save this for splicing repairs on short notice.
I am not a fan of “over-grip wrapping. It puts too much cushion between your hand and the feel of the ball. Its the lazy way of replacing worn grip wrap. If you want to increase the circumference size of your grip, several brand name replacement grips provide wrappings that are thicker with ridges that will sole the problem. And still maintain good feel of the ball.