Saturday School: Ways to grip a tennis racket

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The tennis court is 78 feet long. For a player to hit a shot from one baseline to the other, it requires immense power to hit or return a shot without letting your muscles get fatigued. This requires a player to grip his/her racquet in such fashion that establishes an effective shot.
To understand the various gripping techniques, it is important to consider the shape of the grip which is octagonal. The eight sides of the grip are known as bevels. The two parts of the palm that are crucial in gripping the bevels of the grip are the index knuckle and the heel pad. The various grips used in tennis are:
Continental Grip
Back in the 1930s, the Americans referred Europe as the “Continent.” The world’s best tennis player back then was Fred Perry who was from Europe. The way he used to hold the grip was thus termed “Continental.” Both the index knuckle and heel pad are placed on Bevel 2. A “V” is formed by the thumb and forefinger. This grip is also known as the Chopper grip or the Hammer grip. This kind of grip facilitates shots that are played with heavy topspin, serves, volleys and also in certain types of serves.

FOREHAND GRIPS

Eastern Forehand Grip
Bill Tilden used to hold the tennis racquet such that the index knuckle and heel pad rested on the third bevel. He was from the eastern coast of the United States. Thus, this grip came to be known as the Eastern Forehand grip. Players who love to attack the net use this grip most often. It is also easier to switch to Continental grip if you use an eastern forehand grip. Roger Federer uses an eastern forehand grip.
Semi-Western forehand grip
This type of grip is more popular among the baseliners and the most used grip on tour currently. A powerful topspin can be played with this grip. The forehand is a bit flatter and can also have some topspin in it. The index knuckle and the heel pad are placed on Bevel 4.
Western Forehand Grip
In the Western coast of US, there were concrete courts that saw a higher ball bounce. To adapt to the conditions the players used a “Western” forehand grip. Bill Johnston was one of its first ambassadors and made this technique popular. This is not a commonly used grip. This grip is rarely seen in today’s times. Especially on courts that see a low ball bounce, this grip cannot be used. The topspin rate is high but the pace of the ball is drastically slow. The index knuckle and the heel pad are placed on the fifth bevel.
Double handed forehand grip
The double-handed forehand grip sees the player’s hands utilize the second and sixth bevel. There are more disadvantages of this grip compared to its advantages. While it allows for great accuracy, the pace and follow-through of this grip are inadequate. Monica Seles was one of the very few players who had mastered this grip.

BACKHAND GRIPS

Eastern backhand grip
The eastern backhand grip is played by placing the index knuckle and the heel pad on the first bevel. This allows the player to hit a more powerful backhand but a very little spin can be incorporated in this.
Semi-Western backhand grip
This grip is also known as an “Extreme” grip as it relies on the 8th bevel. The player’s wrist is almost twisted and hence not many players use this on tour. Justine Henin used this grip and is said to have one of the best single-handed backhands in tennis.
Double Handed backhand grip
This is the most commonly used backhand grip in tennis. The index knuckle and heel pad of the right hand are on Bevel 2 and Bevel 1 respectively. The index knuckle and heel pad of the left hand that is placed above the right hand are on bevel 7. This grip gives immense control over the shot and adds for more accuracy.
A player can use any grip convenient to him. The reason why there are more than one ways of gripping a racquet is only that a player generates power and spin effectively without affecting the necessary muscles of his/her hand.

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