Grip (tennis)
Encyclopedia
In tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

, a grip is a way of holding the racquet
Racquet
A racquet or racket is a sports implement consisting of a handled frame with an open hoop across which a network of cord is stretched tightly. It is used for striking a ball in such games as squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton...

in order to hit shots during a match. The three most commonly used conventional grips are: the Continental (or "Chopper"), the Eastern and the Western. Most players change grips during a match depending on what shot they are hitting.

## The octagonal handle

In order to understand the grips, it is important to know that the handle of a racquet always consists of 8 sides, or in other words, has an octagonal shape. A square shape would hurt the hand, while a round shape would not give enough friction to gain a firm grip. The eight sides of the handle are called bevel
Bevel
A beveled edge refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular to the faces of the piece. The words bevel and chamfer overlap in usage; in general usage they are often interchanged, while in technical usage they may sometimes be differentiated as shown in the image at right.-Cutting...

s. We can number the bevels from 1 to 8 as follows: if the blade of the racquet is perpendicular
Perpendicular
In geometry, two lines or planes are considered perpendicular to each other if they form congruent adjacent angles . The term may be used as a noun or adjective...

to the ground, the bevel facing up is #1. The one next to it rotating clockwise is #2 if you are right-handed, and counter-clockwise if you are left-handed, and so on.

## The six grips (in clockwise order for right-handed players, counter clockwise for left handed players)

### The Continental grip

The Continental grip, also called the Chopper grip or Hammer grip, is obtained when placing the hand such that the base knuckle of the index finger is right on the second bevel. It is naturally obtained when holding the racket as if it were an axe, for chopping. Hence the second name "Chopper grip". The Continental grip is suitable for a variety of shots and therefore is often taught to absolute beginners, so that they should not bother changing grips while learning the basics of the game. The Continental grip does not allow for much topspin on groundstroke
Groundstroke
A groundstroke in tennis is a forehand or backhand shot that is executed after the ball bounces once on the court. It is usually hit from the back of the tennis court, around the baseline....

s. Since modern tennis, especially clay court tennis, has shown an evolution towards topspin, the Continental grip has gone out of fashion with professional players for hitting groundstrokes. It is still the preferred grip for serves and volleys. The rest of the grips strike a balance between high spin capacity on one hand, and variety and control on the other hand.
"center":

### The Eastern Forehand grip

The Eastern Forehand grip is obtained when placing the hand such that the base knuckle of the index finger is right on the third bevel. It is naturally obtained when picking up a racquet lying on the ground, or "shaking hands" with a perpendicularly held racquet. The Eastern Forehand grip allows for more topspin on the forehand while keeping control, because the shift along the handle is only 45 degrees (from the multi-purpose Continental grip).

### The Eastern Backhand grip

The Eastern Backhand grip is obtained when placing the hand such that the base knuckle of the index finger and heel of the hand are right on the 1st bevel. This is essentially the same as the Western forehand
Forehand
The forehand in tennis and other racket sports such as table tennis, squash and badminton is a shot made by swinging the racquet across one's body in the direction of where the player wants to place the shot...

grip and allows for significant spin and control.

### The Semi-Western grip

The Semi-Western grip is obtained by placing the hand such that the base knuckle of the index finger is right on the fourth bevel. This racquet grip is popular with baseliners who like to hit with much topspin and a ferocious amount of power. It gets more hand behind the grip, causing shots to result with more ferocity, and provides a contact point much farther out front.

### The Western grip

The Western grip, is used by placing the hand such that the base knuckle of the index finger is right on the fifth bevel. Compared to the Continental grip, the blade has rotated 135 degrees. This forces the wrist in an uncomfortable twist but allows for the greatest possible spin.

This is basically equivalent to the Eastern Backhand grip, and the same face of the racquet is used to strike the ball.

The Western grip generates maximum topspin. Because of the angle of your tennis racquet when you use the Western Forehand grip, you should make contact with the ball a bit earlier than you would with the eastern forehand grip.

### The Double-Handed Backhand grip

The basic Two-Handed Backhand grip, is obtained by holding the racquet in a regular Continental grip, then placing the left hand above holding it in a left-handed Eastern Forehand grip. Holding the racquet using two hands for the backhand is very common, but, there are many variations in the precise positioning of the two hands. This also varies between right and left handed players.

## The evolution of forehand grips

For a number of years the small, apparently frail 1920s player Bill Johnston was considered by many to have had the best forehand of all time, a stroke that he hit shoulder-high using a Western grip. Few top players used the Western grip after the 1920s, but in the latter part of the 20th century, as shot-making techniques and equipment changed radically, the Western forehand made a strong comeback and is now used by many modern players. With the changes in technology, the various grips have become used very differently than previously mentioned. First, the Continental grip is used primarily to serve and to volley, not to hit forehand shots, or a backhand slice. The eastern grip is still used, though far less than in the past, and is used to hit very flat shots. It is excellent to hit low passing shots. The most popular grip on the tour, and for "weekend warriors," is the Semi-Western grip. It gives a nice mix of spin and pace on the forehand, and offers ease to transition to the backhand grip. Finally the Western grip (and its extreme variations), are some of the most radical grips used on the tour, mostly by clay-courters, and are used to create massive amounts of topspin.

## The evolution of backhand grips

The backhand
Backhand
The backhand is a tennis shot in which one swings the racquet around one's body in the direction where one wants the ball to go, usually performed from the baseline or as an approach shot. The term is also used in other racquet sports, and other areas where a similar motion is employed...

can be executed with either one or both hands. For most of the 20th century it was performed with one hand, using either a backhand Eastern or Continental grip. In modern tennis, there are a few professional players who use a Western one-hand backhand. This shot is held in a similar manner to the Western forehand. It has more topspin
Topspin
In ball sports, topspin is a property of a ball that rotates as if rolling in the same direction as it is moving. Topspin on a shot imparts a downward force that causes the ball to drop, due to its interaction with the air . It can be generated by hitting the ball with an up-and-forward swing, with...

potential than for the traditional Eastern one-hander, although it is difficult to hit low balls with this grip. It is virtually impossible to drive a high ball with topspin with an eastern grip without risk of serious injury. It is used by most pros with strong single-handed backhand drives, like Gustavo Kuerten
Gustavo Kuerten
Gustavo Kuerten is a retired former World No. 1 tennis player from Brazil. He won the French Open three times between 1997 and 2001, and was the Tennis Masters Cup champion in 2000...

, Roger Federer
Roger Federer
Roger Federer is a Swiss professional tennis player who held the ATP no. 1 position for a record 237 consecutive weeks, and 285 weeks overall. As of 28 November 2011, he is ranked World No. 3 by the Association of Tennis Professionals . Federer has won a men's record 16 Grand Slam singles titles...

and Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet is a French professional tennis player. He won the mixed doubles Grand Slam title at the 2004 French Open, partnering Tatiana Golovin. His highest ranking in singles is #7. His best achievements in tennis are reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2007 and later that year...

among the men and Justine Henin among the women.

The two-handed backhand is most commonly used with the forehand hand holding the racquet with a Continental grip and the non-dominant hand holding the racquet with an Eastern forehand grip. While this is by far the most common way to hit a two-handed backhand, there are players who use different ways of holding the racquet for a two-handed backhand.

The player long considered to have had the best backhand of all time, Don Budge
Don Budge
John Donald Budge was an American tennis champion who was a World No. 1 player for five years, first as an amateur and then as a professional...

, had a very powerful one-handed stroke in the 1930s and '40s
1940s
File:1940s decade montage.png|Above title bar: events which happened during World War II : From left to right: Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day"; Adolf Hitler visits Paris, soon after the Battle of France; The Holocaust occurred during the war as Nazi Germany...

that imparted topspin
Topspin
In ball sports, topspin is a property of a ball that rotates as if rolling in the same direction as it is moving. Topspin on a shot imparts a downward force that causes the ball to drop, due to its interaction with the air . It can be generated by hitting the ball with an up-and-forward swing, with...

onto the ball. Ken Rosewall
Ken Rosewall
Kenneth Robert Rosewall AM MBE is a former world top-ranking amateur and professional tennis player from Australia. He won 23 Majors including eight Grand Slam singles titles and before the Open Era a record fifteen Pro Slam titles . Rosewall won 9 slams in doubles with a career double grand slam...

, another player noted for his one-handed backhand, used a deadly accurate slice backhand with underspin through the 1950s and '60s
1960s
The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. It was the seventh decade of the 20th century.The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe...

. Both of them used an Eastern grip. Currently, Roger Federer
Roger Federer
Roger Federer is a Swiss professional tennis player who held the ATP no. 1 position for a record 237 consecutive weeks, and 285 weeks overall. As of 28 November 2011, he is ranked World No. 3 by the Association of Tennis Professionals . Federer has won a men's record 16 Grand Slam singles titles...

, who uses an eastern grip, is noted for having a backhand that can drive the ball, impart dramatic spin, slice it deep, or hit a deadly drop shot. He is however, like all who employ an eastern grip, vulnerable to high bouncing balls and is forced to either slice
Slice
-Food:* A portion of bread, pizza, cake, or meat that is cut flat and thin, cf. sliced bread* Slice , a line of fruit-flavored drinks* Vanilla slice, a dessert* Mr. Slice, the mascot of Papa John's Pizza restaurant...

the ball while still high in the air, take it low and early, or allow the ball to drop to a comfortable height.

Against powerful claycourters who employ strong western grips and can drive high bouncing balls with great force, there is often not enough time to take the ball on the rise, and many speculate that this weakness is the explanation for Rafael Nadal
Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera is a Spanish professional tennis player and a former World No. 1. , he is ranked No. 2 by the Association of Tennis Professionals...

's dominant record against Federer on the high-bouncing clay, where slice is less effective.

The first notable players to use two hands were the 1930s Australians Vivian McGrath
Vivian McGrath
Vivian Erzerum Bede "Viv" McGrath was an Australian tennis champion of the 1930s. Along with John Bromwich, he was one of the first great players to use a two-handed backhand. His name was pronounced "McGraw"....

and John Bromwich
John Bromwich
John Edward Bromwich was a male tennis player from Australia who, along with his countryman Vivian McGrath, was one of the first great players to use a two-handed forehand....

. The two-handed grip gained popularity in the 1970s as Björn Borg
Björn Borg
Björn Rune Borg is a former world no. 1 tennis player from Sweden. Between 1974 and 1981 he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles. He won five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles and six French Open singles titles...

, Chris Evert
Chris Evert
Christine Marie "Chris" Evert is a former world number 1 professional tennis player from the United States. She won 18 Grand Slam singles championships, including a record seven championships at the French Open and a record six championships at the U.S. Open. She was the year-ending World No...

and Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors
James Scott "Jimmy" Connors is an American former world no. 1 tennis player....

used it to great effect, and it is now used by a large number of the world's best players, including the Williams sisters
Williams sisters
The Williams sisters are two professional American tennis players: Venus Williams born 1980, seven-time Grand Slam title winner , and Serena Williams born 1981, thirteen-time Grand Slam title winner , both of whom were coached from an early age by their father Richard Williams...

. One reason is that most professionals have played tennis from an early age, when they were not strong enough to hit a one-handed backhand. Most professionals who use a two-handed backhand often return hard-to-reach balls with a one-handed backhand. They also often use the one-handed backhand slice in rallies as it is a comfortable shot. Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi
Andre Kirk Agassi is a retired American professional tennis player and former world no. 1. Generally considered by critics and fellow players to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Agassi has been called the best service returner in the history of the game...

in particular increased his use of the one-handed backhand and often hit an otherwise unreturnable dropshot with it.

## Grips used for serving

The grip for the serve
Serve (tennis)
A serve in tennis is a shot to start a point. A player begins a serve by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it into the diagonally opposite backside box without being stopped by the net. The ball can only touch the net on a return and will be considered good if it falls on the opposite side...

depends on the type of serve. At professional levels, the top spin serve (with lots of spin), is hit with a chopper grip. The server stands at an angle to the baseline, so that he can turn during the service and make contact with the racquet squarely on the ball.

At professional levels, the slice serve is most commonly hit with a Continental grip. The server tosses the ball a little to the right of his body (if he is right-handed) and cuts the ball at the side to impart spin. For a right-hander, the slice serve curves to the left, and is useful in pulling the opponent out wide, or serving into his body. Many players, however, use an Eastern backhand grip for their spin serves; this gives the racquet even more angle as it sweeps across the ball.

There are two types of kick (topspin) serves; the pure topspin serve, and the twist serve. The topspin serve is hit by using a Continental grip and the ball is thrown so that if it were to drop, it would land on the server's head. In the topspin serve, the racquet brushes across the ball to impart topspin. In the American twist serve or kick serve, the racquet is held with an Eastern backhand or Continental grip. The twist serve has both topspin and slice, and, when hit correctly, bounces in the opposite direction from the slice serve. Both these serves are used to make an effective serve that nevertheless has a high safety factor because they clear the net with a relatively high margin of space and use the topspin to pull the ball down into the service box.