Why Don’t Tennis Pros Wear Gloves? (Pro, Cons, Options,…)

Recently I saw a couple of older guys wearing gloves while playing tennis. It felt strange. You don’t really connect tennis with glove-wearing. I thought that there should be a reason for that, so I decided to ask around for some feedback and see what I can find with a bit of research.

Maybe gloves are worth it?… let’s find out!

Many tennis players, including pros, prefer not to wear gloves. Even though gloves can protect your hands from blisters, as well as cold weather – they are generally avoided as they can make you lose the feel for the racquet, and give you poorer maneuverability and control over your strokes.

Tennis is a ‘feel’ sport – you need to be able to feel the racquet (as well as the ball) – the way you are holding it, the bevels, and the grooves of the grip – it all plays an essential role during serving, doing volleys, etc. And you’ll, definitely, feel a difference when you’re using gloves.

Yet, there are certainly some people that do play tennis with gloves, which are great and experienced players. For instance, Cliff Drysdale, 1965 US Open Finalist, used to play with a glove at one point.

So maybe it is about knowing when to use them? Let’s take an in-depth look.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wearing Gloves

Here I have gathered a list of how wearing gloves can affect one’s playstyle:

1. Gloves will affect your feel for the racquet.

The first noticeable difference is the compromised and dampened feel of the racquet.

For some people that got used to playing without a glove, it will feel very strange. The extra layer between your hand and the racquet will interfere with your grip, and a lot of people just feel disconnected from the racquet.

What most players opt for is one glove on the hitting hand. The glove should be as thin as possible in order to provide the best feel for the racquet.

2. Gloves will affect your grip.

When wearing gloves, some players report problems with changing grips during play. This is to be expected. The tackiness of both the grip and the glove can make it hard to change easily and quickly from forehand to backhand or serve.

3. Gloves can protect your hands.

Blisters on hands are quite common among tennis players. Some people would like to try and protect their hands as they are concerned about the blisters and calluses breaking off. Hurting your hands is the last thing you want while playing tennis.

If you have torn the skin on your hand or you have blisters a glove might help protect your hand and allow you to continue playing. The thing with calluses is that once they develop, most people don’t have any problems with them. My own experience shows the same thing.

4. Cold weather protection.

If you are playing during the colder months or you live in a colder region, you might have already considered using gloves to keep your hands warm. Depending on the gloves you chose, they might indeed help. The downside, of course, is that you’ll probably be compromising your performance, to some degree.

5. They might help with sweat.

There are mixed opinions about this one. While some people do find wearing a glove during the summer helpful with their grip, others have the opposite result where their hands start sweating even more. As a result, the glove can get soaked with sweat, which will make it quite tricky and awkward to play.

Wearing gloves can make your hands even sweatier, and this will worsen your game performance. Your hands will be more slippery, and this will ruin your technique in several ways as you will be trying to grip the racquet even harder.

What many players use to combat the sweat is a wristband that will stop the sweat from dripping down their hands.

What gloves can be used for Tennis?

There is a great variety of gloves that can be used for tennis. In most cases, it is even a question of personal preference. While some gloves might work for some players, they might not work for others.

What is usually recommended is that the glove has to fit tightly. A loose glove is the last thing you want while playing tennis. The lighter and thinner the glove, the better feel and control you will have while playing. Some tennis players usually choose a golf glove because of these reasons.

Some types of gloves that might help while playing tennis are:

  • A golf glove
  • A racquetball glove
  • A squash glove

Good grips might be better than using gloves

Most players prefer using overgrips as opposed to actual gloves when playing. There are different types of grips and overgrips to have on your racquet. It’s important to note that leather and synthetic grips that have been worn out can be challenging to hold on to, especially, if they get soaked with sweat. In these cases, you can easily have the whole racquet fly out of your hand.

In recent years the grip material that is being used has become tackier, which makes glove-wearing redundant.

Some players use tape that they place on some of their fingers while playing (like Rafael Nadal, for example). This is mainly done as a protective layer for the skin, which can be caused by the specific way they play.

When should tennis players wear gloves?

A lot of casual players find it better to play without gloves. Pros don’t use gloves as well.

If you are a good player in the first place, a glove might not hinder your game in a significant way. You will probably be skilled enough to overcome the dampened feel for the racquet. However, for instance, volleys or drop shots, might not be as easy to hit with the same accuracy and precision while wearing gloves.

Weighing the pros and cons of wearing gloves and wrappings, gloves are best used when:

  • Dealing with a recent injury;
  • Possibly during hot or cold weather;

Are gloves the best option against sweat?

Apparently, this is a controversial topic. A lot of people have trouble with sweat during the hot summer months, and it all boils down to personal preference. Some people find that gloves provide them with a better grip, and when the gloves get soaked wet, they change them with a new dry pair. On the other hand, some players find that they start sweating even harder – even if they have a fingerless glove.

Best alternatives to gloves during the summer

  • Antiperspirant lotion for the hands.
  • Wristbands.
  • Always playing with fresh grips.

In the end

Tennis is a sport where you need to be able to feel the racquet, as well as the ball – especially if you want to play at higher levels.

People that play rarely, or are just starting with tennis might not really notice a big difference if they try playing with gloves. However, for the majority of people, gloves are out of the question as they will hinder their game performance – hence, why so many people look down upon gloves in tennis.

The subtle feel of the bevels, as well as the grooves of the handle, allows you to instinctively feel when you are holding the racquet right. In today’s world, where everyone is trying to be as optimal as possible in order to be the best they can be, every little improvement in performance is always welcomed.