Tennis Racket Grip
Tennis racket grip is determined by the hand’s location on racket handle that allows the player to hit all kinds of tennis strokes, though which is not always natural for beginners.
There are two fundamental tennis grips — those that are easy to learn for an overwhelming majority of players:
- grip that provide hitting all strokes from forehand, ground strokes and volleys;
- grip that provide hitting all strokes from backhand, ground strokes, volleys, serving and smashes.
To understand all the features of tennis forehand grip, it is important to learn how the racket handle is made and what parts it contains.
For simplicity, we will call three main visible parts of the handle — side surfaces, and two minor — edges (follow the tennis grips pictures at Fig. 1). Fingers grasp the racket handle as while making usual handshake.
To avoid gross errors, it is necessary to know two key positions about tennis forehand grips:
- position of hypothenar eminence according to the upper side of the handle (Fig. 2);
- the position of fingers, especially the little finger, on the left side of the handle (Fig. 3). The fingertips (except the forefinger, which occupies an independent position) cover a small part of the left outer edge and little finger is exactly at the end of this edge. Thumb is in a convenient location between the forefinger and little finger in order to ensure the reliability of grip.
When learning the tennis backhand grip it’s also important to note the two main positions:
- position of hypothenar eminence, which almost completely covers the upper side surface;
- the position of the fingers (forefinger always has an independent position): phalanx cover a small part of the left side of the handle. The thumb is stretched along the diagonal and firmly rests on the left side surface. It may also cover the handle, although it does not provide benefits (Fig. 3, d, e).
Hand should be comfortable, racquet and arm must feel the resistance while hitting forehands, backhands and volleys.
A few words about the tennis serve grip that is used for serving and hitting smash. It is almost the same as while playing backhand. Hypothenar eminence covers the upper side surface of the handle, fingers freely lie on it, thumb grasps the handle, choosing comfortable position near the middle finger. It is always «closed» for not to block the rocking motion of the hand at the end of the stroke and the beginning of following through (Fig. 3, g).
So what is the advantage of one of tennis racket grips and is it possible to select best tennis grip? About twenty-five or thirty years ago, most tennis players in Europe were using a universal (continental) grip, and in U.S. eastern grip was considered the only acceptable. And Australians recognized something average between a continental and eastern grip. As for the so-called tennis western grip, it was used by almost no one.
But then it was Bjorn Borg, who became the champion of the biggest competitions, who was using mainly western grip when hitting forehand, and played backhand with both hands. But these days, players in the world use a variety of tennis racquet grips, but still most prefer the eastern or Australian grip.
Tennis eastern grip is considered to be the most natural and comfortable. It allows performing a reliable and strong forehand. Tennis players using this kind of grip show a strong, stable and diverse game, successfully hit spinned, sliced and flat strokes, strokes with side-spin, and also very accurate drop shots.
The disadvantage of the tennis eastern grip is that it is not quite convenient to perform strongly sliced serve and spinned backhands. Some difficulties can appear in carrying out the summer strong backhand.
Therefore, many tennis players are changing eastern grip to the universal for hitting sliced serve, and get back to the eastern one to perform strongly spinned backhand groundstroke. As for the net volleys, to hit strokes (mostly flat) from the left and right is better using universal grip because playing at the net you usually don’t have enough time for a change of grip.
Do not forget: if you are holding the racket using the tennis western grip, the more you turn the racket to the left (lower part of the palm is closer to the lower facet of the racket handle), the more you need to turn the hand in backswing, so that during the contact with the ball the racket’s head appears to be perpendicular to the ground, otherwise the balls would be more likely to get stuck in the grid than to threaten the rival.
There is also a tennis grip for playing with both hands. It became mostly popular in recent years. It is used mainly for playing backhand.
With such a tennis racquet grip right hand (for right handed players) is closer to the racket butt and the left – a bit closer to the head of the racket. Both hands are in the position of the eastern grip.
Playing with two hands, even though it has its disadvantages (it’s difficult to get the distant balls, and perform attacks on very high and low balls and slice strokes), nevertheless represent a powerful modern weapon, due to which you can hit very strong and accurate spinned and flat backhands. In addition, according to Borg’s coach Lennart Bergelin, using two hands for backhand makes it easier to hit hidden strokes, which allows hitting passing shots more reliably.
A positive aspect is also the fact that playing backhand with two hands you can meet the ball not so far ahead from you as if hitting it with one hand, due to what a tennis player can wait until the opponent will take the final position on court, and then send the ball into the most uncomfortable point for him.