One of the first things you will need to learn when you begin your tennis training is how to hold a tennis racquet and what grip you will use, there are many factors that go into this decision. Elements such as your style of play will factor in this decision. Are you going to be a baseline player? Are you going to be a serve and volleyer? Or an all-court player? Also, what feels comfortable in your hand when holding the racquet? There are 8 bevels on the handle of the racquet, and these will determine along with the placement of the index knuckle, what type of grip you will be using.
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Learn the crucial steps to create a solid foundation for your tennis game right from the start. This is a BEGINNERS series to teach the the fastest way to get off to a great start as a NEW tennis player. The videos are 100% FREE and cover the following topics:
- How To Hit Massive Topspin On Your Forehand
- How To Solve The Serve Toss
- What Grips Are The Best For Beginners
- 5 Things You Should Be Doing On Your Forehand
- How To Add Slice To Your Shots (Backhand & Serves)
How To Hold A Tennis Racquet
In the section below we will discuss the choices that you have when deciding on a grip for your Forehand. We will also go over the pros and cons of each grip choice so that you can get a good idea of which grip works best for your type of game. There are four primary grips on the forehand side:
- Full Western
Each grip has certain benefits and also has certain limitations. Some grips are better on certain surfaces and other grips are better at handling specific types of shots. Don’t worry, we will explain everything so that you can easily understand it and make an informed decision.
CONTINENTAL GRIP: To grip the racket with a continental grip, you should place your hand flat against the strings and then bring your palm straight down to the handle of the racquet. The index knuckle should be on the 2nd bevel of the grip for righties and on the 8th bevel for lefties, it is much like the way you would hold a hammer. This grip is often used for slice forehands, volleys, and overheads. It is a great choice for balls that are low to around the hip level as we mentioned above. There are some limitations with the CONTINENTAL grip in todays game, mostly that it can be difficult to deal with the heavy spins that are bouncing up around the shoulder and even higher.
EASTERN GRIP: This is a more modern grip compared to the Continental and you can see players such as Roger Federer utilizing this grip on his forehand. To grip the racquet with an Eastern grip you will want the index knuckle on the 3rd bevel of the racket for righties, and on the 7th bevel of the racket for lefties. This grip allows the player to flatten or drive the ball through the court, but also gives them the option to add topspin to the shots as well. Some disadvantages with the Eastern grip still exist, mainly that it can be difficult to deal with the heavy topspin shots that bounce shoulder high and above. The player must take the ball early and flatten it out which requires precise timing, or be strong enough in the wrist to return the topspin to the opponent.
SEMI-WESTERN GRIP: This is regarded as the most popular forehand in today’s game, and for many reasons. Many of the top pros like Nadal, Venus Williams, Roddick, Djokovic, and others use this grip with obvious success. The index knuckle is placed on the 4th bevel for righties, and on the 6th bevel for lefties. This grip is for players that want to generate a high amount of topspin on the forehand, and it also is able to counter the high topspin shots of an opponent. As with all of the grips, there are some disadvantages that you will need to adjust to. The main disadvantage with the Semi-Western Grip is on low balls or balls that are sliced and staying low, because of the closed racquet face inherent with this grip, it can be difficult to get under these balls without getting the racquet face properly beneath the ball. This is an opportunity where a grip switch to the continental could help.
FULL WESTERN GRIP:This is the most extreme grip of them all and is used by many clay court specialists and especially the Spanish contingent. For both righties and lefties the index knuckle will be placed on the 5th bevel of the racket handle. This grip is used to create copious amounts of topspin on your shot and will work best on clay courts or slow hard courts, where there are high bouncing baseline rallies. As effective as it is for creating and reacting to high arching top spin shots, its extreme nature creates some significant disadvantages as well. On faster courts where the ball bounces lower, it will be challenging to get underneath the ball, as the racket face will be almost completely closed and “lifting” the ball can be problematic. The optimal swing zone for this grip is going to be waist level and above.
In the section below we will discuss the choices that you have when deciding on a grip for your Backhand. We will also go over the pros and cons of each grip choice so that you can get a good idea of which grip works best for your type of game. There are 3 primary grips on the Backhand side:
- Continental One-Handed Grip
- Eastern One-Handed Grip
- Extreme Eastern One-Handed Grip
- Two handed Backhand Grip
Each grip has certain benefits and also has certain limitations. Some grips are better on certain surfaces and other grips are better at handling specific types of shots. Don’t worry, we will explain everything here too, so that you can easily understand it and make an informed decision on your backhand grips.
This grip is found by placing your index knuckle on bevel number 2 of the tennis racket handle. This is the same grip that you would use to hit a Continental forehand grip but you roll your hand over and hit a backhand with it instead. If you are a left handed player you place that index knuckle on bevel 8 of the tennis racquet handle instead.
This is a grip that is used a lot of slice shots by all players, mainly because the racquet face is open naturally when you are holding this grip so it enables you to cut or "slice" through the ball. This is also the ideal grip for serving and volleys. It is going to be difficult to apply much topspin with this conserative backhand grip, but you will be able to drive through the ball effectively.
From the Continental forehand grip, move your index knuckle one bevel counterclockwise for a right hander on the tennis racquet handle. If you are a lefty then move that index knuckle one bevel clockwise on the tennis racquet handle. It should now be on the very top bevel of the tennis racquet.
This is a versatile grip that provides your wrist with stability. You get the ability to both hit with spin and drive through the ball for penetrating drive. This grip also can be used for a kick serve, and it makes a transition into volleying pretty simple.
As with most of the one-handed backhand grips, there will be some difficulty dealing with high balls above the shoulders, but it will also give you more reach and is great for dealing with mid and low balls. Some top pros that have used this grip are Roger Federer and Pete Sampras
The extreme one-handed backhand grip is a popular grip for clay court players or players who want to hit a lot of topspin. This would be the counterpart to the western forehand grip. To execute this grip you want to place your index knuckle of your dominant hand on the 8th bevel of the handle on your tennis racquet. This would be one bevel counter-clockwise for right-handers or one bevel clockwise for left handers from the top bevel of the tennis racquet handle.
This grip was used by Gustavo Kuerten to great success and allowed him to hit deep penetrating shots into the court. Another popular and successful pro that used this type of grip was Justine Henin. It will be slightly more difficult to handle lower balls with this grip as the racket face will be more closed than a regular Eastern backhand grip, but it will provide you with plenty of spin and works well on medium and high balls.
The primary grip for the two-handed backhand is a combination of a Continental Forehand grip with your dominant hand's index knuckle on the 2nd bevel of the tennis racquet handle. Then add your non-dominant hand above and place the index knuckle on the 4th bevel with a Semi-Western grip.
The two hander is a great idea for players that want to generate power with a compact and short swing. It is very useful when returning serve and when you are hitting above your shoulder, the second hand helps you manipulate the racquet head on high balls for more control.
However, it will require more footwork on your part because you will not get as much reach with your arms as you would with the free swinging one handed backhand. If you can get yourself in the proper position you can really rip backhands with the two-handed backhand though.
You can see this grip in action by watching most pros that hit a two-handed backhand, some classic examples are Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.