As a tennis player, holding the racket is one of the most essential skills to master. The way you hold your tennis racket affects the way you hit the ball and determines the shots you play during a match. I remember as a youngster I had an awful grip, I held my tennis racket like a squash racket so all I could really do was slice the ball. It was thanks to a coach who may me change to an Eastern Grip, slowly allowing me to develop my tennis game properly.
It’s vital to know the different types of grips and which one is ideal for you. No one grip is right for everyone, some feel more comfortable with one than the other. You may also change your grip or try new grips in your tennis journey. That’s Ok!
Therefore, in this blog post, we will walk you through the various gripping techniques you can use to improve your tennis game.
The Grip / Bevel
It is worth taking a few minutes to understand the grip and what we are referring to when we talk about the bevel and the numbers relating to it. In short, a tennis racket’s handle has an octagonal shape, and the 8 sides are called bevels. The bevels are there as a reference point for adopting certain grip types, as well as providing a comfortable shape to hold the racket. The numbers we have detailed below will show you what angle the racket should be depending on your grip of choice.
It is formed by placing the hand on the top of the racket’s handle so that the base knuckle of the index finger is on the third bevel of the racket grip, aligned with the edge of the handle.
This grip gives more control over backhands and slices, but can also be used to hit powerful forehand shots.
To achieve this grip, simply hold the racket like you are about to chop some wood with it; there should be a ‘V’ shape between your thumb and index finger covering a bevel on the side.
When hitting volleys or slices it is important to keep your wrist firm and in an L shape to drive through the ball instead of whipping up backspin.
The eastern grip, also known as the shake hands grip, is an ideal choice for beginners looking to generate topspin.
This classical technique is used by hard-hitting professionals such as Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro.
It offers power over spin and is less extreme on the wrist and forearm compared to the semi-western grip.
To find this grip, rotate your racket anti-clockwise for a forehand position or clockwise for a backhand one.
Move your hand clockwise around the racket so that the thumb-finger V is between 12 and one o’clock to get this slightly spinning grip.
This grip is close to “shaking hands” with the racket in a very relaxed way. This allows for a small amount of racket acceleration up the back of the ball, which will spin it slightly, keeping the ball relatively flat.
Semi Western Grip:
The semi-western grip is the most popular forehand grip in modern tennis, allowing players to generate more topspin and power.
To execute a semi-western grip, position the ‘V’ between your thumb and index finger in line with the flat string bed of the racket.
This allows for a slightly closed racket face which provides additional net clearance and kick on the ball when hitting.
When achieving this grip, ensure that your wrist is bent slightly forward and relaxed to allow for greater racket control.
Semi-Western grips are also great for defensive slices as the open face provides more spin on the ball. Players such as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have used this grip to achieve huge success on the court.
Full Western Grip:
The Western Grip is one of the more extreme grips that players use to hit a forehand. Generating topspin is more efficient, allowing players to hit higher and harder over the net.
Groundstrokes gain weight due to dip in the ball after bounce. this grip is a favorite of clay court players, those with the extreme grip can even hit the ball with the other side of the racket the grip is that extreme.
Opponents are forced out of their comfort zone by extra spin.
Spin can be generated in steep low-to-high motion by twisting grip further than 3 o’clock.
We recommend trying this grip for more advanced players who are at the very least comfortable rallying with confidence.
As a tennis expert, I highly recommend using the Eastern backhand grip when holding a racket for backhand shots. To execute this grip, start by holding the racket as you would for a forehand shot.
Then, smoothly rotate your hand in a counter-clockwise direction until it reaches the proper backhand position. It is crucial to maintain the vertical position of the hitting face of the racket’s strings. By following these guidelines, you can optimize your backhand technique and enhance your overall performance on the tennis court.
Two-Handed Backhand Grip:
When it comes to perfecting your tennis game, utilizing a two-handed backhand grip can be an excellent choice for beginners who struggle with the single-handed backhand. I must admit I am completely split on this. I play with a single-handed backhand and enjoy the freedom and feeling it gives me. That said I also know for many that it is easier to play with a two-handed backhand, especially for juniors learning the game. I also believe that a two-handed backhand is more consistent over time.
To achieve this grip, position your non-dominant hand underneath the hand holding the racket. Remember to ensure that both hands are securely grasping the racket handle, with the base knuckles of both hands aligned on top of each other.
By implementing this technique, you’ll have a solid foundation to enhance your backhand and elevate your overall performance on the court.
What am I Doing Wrong?
Let’s be clear, this is not easy to grasp and will not happen in a day. Have patience and practice.
If you are continuing to struggle with your grip, ensure that you analyze your technique first. One mistake that players make is holding the racket too tightly or loosely. Holding the racket too tightly will make your shots stiff, and holding it too loosely will make your hits weak.
Many players also forget to keep their elbow bent and close to the body, which affects their alignment and power. You should also remember to follow through with your shots by extending your arm fully after hitting the ball.
With practice, you can perfect your grip and technique, allowing you to hit powerful yet accurate shots. Finally, always consult a coach or instructor if you are having any difficulty with your grip or technique. We have other coaching articles on the site to help with groundstrokes.
And remember, have fun and enjoy yourself while playing – it’s essential to stay positive and stay motivated. It took me months of practice to even begin hitting a proper Eastern grip and for it to feel comfortable. Learn to accept that it will feel strange and you may go backwards to go forwards in time.
Practices to Improve my Grip?
I have always found that I want to improve areas of my game in practice rather than a match. One way to improve your grip is to solo practice using different gripping techniques when hitting the ball. Committing to regular practice sessions is key to improving this skill. Also, finding a grip that feels comfortable and natural is crucial. You don’t need a tennis court for these drills, just some open space, a racket and some balls (and a wall!).
- The “Bounce-hit” drill is quite effective. In this drill, you bounce the ball on the ground and then hit it against a wall. The aim is to apply different grips while hitting the ball, which aids in grip flexibility.
- Another drill is the “Shadow Swing” drill, where you practice your swings in the air, focusing solely on your grip, and not on the ball. This helps in enhancing the grip technique.
- Lastly, the “Drop-hit” drill is another useful method. Here, you drop a ball from your free hand and hit it with the racket, using the desired grip. This drill is effective in creating muscle memory, thus aiding in grip improvement.
- The “Wall Rally” drill is one such exercise where you continuously hit the ball against a wall, alternating between forehand and backhand grips. This drill helps to solidify your grip transitions.
- You can also try the “Serve Toss” drill, specifically for improving the grip on your serves. In this exercise, you practice tossing the ball for a serve and mimicking the serve motion, focusing on maintaining the proper grip throughout.
- Lastly, the “Bucket Drill” can aid in establishing muscle memory for your grip. In this drill, you hit balls from a bucket one by one, concentrating each time on implementing the correct grip.
Remember, the key to these drills is consistency and repetition. Over time, your grip will improve, making your game stronger.
So now you know the best way to hold a tennis racket and also what some of the professionals do.
It may take some time to find the perfect grip, but with regular practice, you will learn what works best for you and your game.
Remember to experiment with the different grips and know when to use them. By doing so, you will be well on your way to becoming a seasoned tennis player with a perfect grasp of your tennis racket.
Check out our articles on The Best Tennis Rackets for Intermediate Players in 2023 – The Ultimate Guide – Tennis Pursuits