Best Forehand Grips to Optimize Performance
Holding a tennis racket may seem easy but in actual fact there are many ways to position your hand on the 8-sided handle. Grips are the fundamental of all the strokes in tennis though they are often overlooked. The position you place the hand on the handle has a huge impact on each ball you hit due to the angle of the racket face upon contact with the ball. Ultimately, it affects the spin, pace and placement of your shot. This guide will help you to
(1) determine the best uses of each of the common grips, and
(2) learn to grasp the racket for each grip correctly.
In this guide, we will be using the base of the knuckle of your index finger as the main reference point.
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For right hander's forehand. Anticlockwise for left hander.
The continental is held by putting the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel No. 2, which puts the V create by your thumb and forefinger on top of the handle.
For left handers, the knuckle will be on bevel No. 8. Continental grip can be used for every shot, but in modern day tennis it is primarily used for serves, volleys, overheads and slices.
Serving with a continental grip allows your wrist to naturally pronate through contact, resulting in a more explosive and versatile shot with least amount of stress to the arm. During volley, continental is the preferred grip as you need quick hands at the net. Thus having the same grip for forehand and backhand is crucial. It also provides a slight open racket face for underspin and for more control.
Hitting a groundstroke with the continental grip is challenging if you want to put topspin on the ball. This means that the ball will be flat and powerful. Therefore to keep the ball in play requires you to aim the shot just above the net level, leaving you little margin for error. Without spin, you will tend to have a problem of consistency in your game.
Eastern Forehand Grip
The knuckle of the index finger for the eastern forehand grip will be on bevel No. 3. For left handers, it will be on bevel No. 7. This grip can also be called the shake hand grip.
Shots hit with the eastern forehand grip are relatively flat and with great pace. Players who have a serve and volley game will favour this grip as changing of grip from the eastern forehand grip to the continental grip is quick.
Players who use the eastern forehand grip will find it difficult to return high balls. Also, as balls are relatively flat, it has a higher risk of hitting the net as compared to topspin balls.
Semi Western Forehand Grip
The semi-western forehand grip is held by putting the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel No. 4. For left handers, the knuckle will be on bevel No. 6. An easy tip to remember will be to put your racket on the ground and pick it up. The Semi-Western grip is highly recommended as it has become a prevalent grip for power baseliners and many teaching pros are encouraging their students to use it.
Playing with the Semi-Western grip allows one to generate more topspin to the ball, giving the shot more safety buffer across the net and control during short angles. Yet, you can still use this grip to hit a flat shot for a winner or a passing shot. The semi-western grip is good for controlling and to be aggressive with the high shots.
Holding the Semi-Western grip can be difficult for one to return low and underspin shot as the grip naturally closes the racket face. To return low balls, one has to swing the racket up from underneath the ball.
Western Forehand Grip
The Western forehand grip is held by putting the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel No. 5. For left handers, the knuckle will be same on bevel No. 5. Clay-courters and those who hit with heavy topspin will favor this grip
The western forehand grip helps the player to generate tremendous topspin, resulting in a shot that has a high and explosive bounce. Thus pushing the opponent behind the baseline, and this does not allow the opponent to attack. The Western grip favours one to handle the high balls well and which is why it is popular with clay-courters. The contact point is the highest and furthest out in front than all other forehand grips.
Similar to the Semi-Western forehand, the Western forehand players have an issue with the low balls. In addition to hit a deep shot, you will need an incredible amount of racket head speed and wrist strength to generate sufficient pace and spin on the ball. It will also be tricky to flatten and put away the balls due to the tremendous amount of spin that the grip will generate.
In the next guide, we will be looking at the various backhand grips.