Wilson Pro Overgrip color comparison

aka "the best overgrip" for tennis (and maybe other racquet sports like badminton too...):

This can be short one - at the end of the day, the white grips packaged as 2 x 15 rolls seem to be much grippier than the other colors. And in my experience, even white grips in other packaging such as individual wraps or rolls (e.g. in the 60 box).

It's still my favorite overgrip, despite having to replace it every couple of sets or hours.

If you want to save some money here, and don't cause quite as much waste, you can regrip it starting with the used top part. That way, what overlapped and is not overlapping now will still be nice and white. Overall, it doesn't feel or look as good as new, but for practice it'll do.

Out of curiosity, I had also tried putting the grips in the washing machine, held together by a mesh bag. That worked surprisingly well, though you do not get the slight initial tackiness when you initially remove the plastic layer. Plus if the detergent doesn't fully wash off it can get a bit slippery.

Other brands have been putting out pretty nice overgrips over the last years as well, but after sampling ~10 alternatives, I think the white Wilson Pro Overgrip still has the nicest feel to it.

The "Champions Choice" string job

Just a few lines about the popular (and quite expensive!) "Champions Choice" string job - a hybrid of Wilson's own gut and Luxilon's Alu Power Rough.

Of course Roger made it famous. Like a few other top pros like Novak and Andy, he has the gut put in the mains for power. If you want to prioritize spin, you'd put the Rough there (since the racquet head mostly brushes up on the ball sideways).

I've had a few hits with it, mains in the crosses, and can confirm that it gives a bit of a power premium over a full bed of a poly. Maybe 10-20% based on your poly? Other playing characteristics were alright. Didn't get the impression that it could keep up in spin production with the likes of the Hyper-G, Cyclone, and surely not the Tour Bite.

While these days, you usually cut out polys before they break, the Champions Choice job says goodbye somewhat quickly, especially on surfaces like clay or HarTru. Would give it somewhere in the range of 5-10 hours. So that adds to the expense.

If you'd like to mimic Roger's setup, note that he still uses Power Pads (leather inserts) on the throat grommets and even puts in a few string savers slightly north of the sweet spot...

You can probably save a bit of money and get similar results by buying another proven gut and pair it with the Tour Bite. I read somewhere that Ana played a setup like this for a while.

Personally, I've tried and tried, but putting 2 different strings in a racquet is just not for me! 

Warm up & cool down routines

[BETA POST to get the content out there, will build out if there's interest]

A friend asked me the other day for some pointers regarding stretching for tennis, so I might as well publish what I sent him. Disclaimer that I'm not a physio - the below are exercises that have worked well for me over the last decades, maybe some of them work for you as well!

First and foremost, cold-stretching before play probably does more harm than good, so first I usually do some light off-court warm-up, then some dynamic stretching, and after the hit some static stretching for recovery, injury prevention, and flexibility.

The basic warmup

I first like to do some light jogging or cycling, then go "through the motions". That involves jogging backwards, heel tappings, knee lifts, sidesteps, crossovers, shoulder / arm rolls, self-hugs (alternating the top-arm), maybe some careful upper body rotations (standing twists?), and shaking out arms and wrists, and bending the fingers (e.g. making and releasing a fist). I also like taking 2 racquets and swinging through the main swings. You could also put a weight on one racquet.

That's the warm-up-the-body-part, maybe 5 easy minutes if you don't rush it. That can already get the body ready for a mid-intensity hit. If you feel ready to get started, you can then adjust the warm-up hitting on court to your light pre-hit regime, e.g. by starting more slowly and consciously adding motions that you haven't warmed up - maybe take a few bigger last steps towards the ball or gently exaggerate your upper body rotation.

If you want to prep better and also want to do your body some good, and/or your on-court endeavor is about to get intense quickly (e.g. matchplay after those allotted 5 minutes of warmup hitting), it's probably a good idea to also add some...

Dynamic stretching

For dynamic stretching (after warmup and before the hit), the most important exercises are probably lunges, knee hugs, Frankensteins (straight leg up, carefully), mobilizing the hip, and gently pre-stretching shoulders as well as forearms and wrists. A deep squat has become my favorite stretch to create some mobility and breathing room for the lower back - that one stretches a bunch of stuff at the same time, e.g. the glutes.

If you worry about your heels (e.g. if that's your weak spot, and/or you're over 30, and/or you play on hard court etc), you can do a few slow heel lifts and stretches, on a step or similar. For those, I found that there's a thin line between warming up and 1) strength-building (takes away energy and tightens calf muscle / increases pull on the tendon), and 2) deep stretching (relaxes and thus tires muscle). You'll get a feel for it - maybe try 5 on each side first. Another option could be going into a downward facing dog pose,  and alternately pushing your heels backwards - that actually feels quite good after a few reps. Good to do at home too...

Serious folks also like to do resistance tube stuff for the upper body. If you measure resistance and reps right, you'll get a bit of a workout without tiring your muscles too much - so that's some toning and more importantly stability you can feel. Might be fun to have one tube to grab onto in the house? I like the orange-level resistance, burgundy might be good for warm-up too. And you can always adjust the level (i.e. length) of pull.

Update: here's a fitting video that the USTA came out with at the beginning of 2018:

After the hit is before the hit

Afterwards, you have the opportunity to speed up recovery and increase flexibility, thus also prevent injury and improve performance for next time. Plus you're already out there and warmed up, so might as well make use of that flowing energy...

You can do some static stretches, maybe as you chat or grab a drink so that the whole program doesn't feel too heavy. If you've been exposed to hard court impact, the lower body might be a tad more important, especially calves / heels, maybe also glutes.

For the calves, you can step onto something elevated and carefully let the heels drop and stay there for 5 breaths or so. Then repeat once or twice.

For glutes, holding that deep squat I mentioned earlier feels good to me (make sure the knees are positioned comfortably), or doing some variation of the pigeon stretch.

I usually go through a whole top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top routine, sometimes in the shower. You can probably first pick a few stretches for whatever tends to get tight and go from there...

To soften tight muscles, electrolytes and that massage stick I have been using come to mind.

Closing thoughts and some more visuals

Over the last decade or so, I've started to see this kind of work more of an opportunity to maintain, improve, and future proof the body, so it's great when it's anchored on a fun activity and some social interaction!

Here are some videos I found, for inspiration:

Novak (very advanced and a lot of static stretching in there, so you probably don't need / want to do the whole thing before playing!)

Maria (gets into those heavy medicine ball stuff pretty quickly)

Some good dynamic stretches, for me warming up only with those would probably not get the blood flowing / sweat going enough - you can skip around to get a visual for some of the exercises I've mentioned above. Exercises start at 1:06: