How do I hold a tennis racket?
A look at the octagon handle will help you understand how to grip a tennis racket.
By Laura Chan
Knowledge of the correct grip of a tennis racket forms the ultimate foundation for performing strokes in tennis. Your grip affects the angle, the placement and the strength of each stroke. Hence, it is of utmost importance that you master the correct and most comfortable way of holding a tennis racket.
There are many different ways of holding a tennis racket. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on 3 of the most common grips. The Continental grip, Eastern Forehand grip and Two-handed Backhand grip.
Understanding the Octagonal Handle
The tennis racket has eight sides on its handle, making it an octagonal shape. Each side of the handle is called a bevel. The numbering of the bevels start from bevel 1, the furthest side, as if in a 12 o’clock direction. The bevel number then increases in a clockwise direction if you are a right-hander and an anti-clockwise direction if you are a left-hander.
To make it easier to visualise, I will be explaining the grips based on your finger positions on the bevels.
Grip 1: The Continental grip
The Continental grip is a basic service grip, the ideal grip for beginners. Place the knuckle base of your index finger on bevel 2. The thumb and forefinger then creates a V-shape.
This grip type can be used for a variety of shots like serves, volleys and defensive strokes. Strokes with the continental grip allow your forearm and wrist to function smoothly. Hence, these shots have more power and versatility with minimal amount of stress on the arm.
Grip 2: The Eastern Forehand
The Eastern Forehand grip is one of the easiest grips for playing forehand. Place the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel 3. Quick brushing for topspin and flat shots can be achieved with this grip. It also allows quick interchange between different grip types.
Grip 3: Two Handed Backhand
This is frequently used by beginners in playing backhand especially when they aren’t strong enough to play the backhand single-handedly. It relies on the player’s shoulder rotation to deliver an efficient swing. Place your dominant hand in a Continental style and your other hand’s base knuckle on bevel 6.
Generally, beginners start with the Continental grip and proceed to master forehand and backhand strokes. One thing to note is there is no one size fits all perfect grip type. Each grip has its own advantages and disadvantages each with their own merits for a particular stroke or style of play.
The more advanced players can switch between a wider variety of grips including the Western Forehand grip and Semi-western Backhand grip. With experience, advanced players are able to determine to switch to a specific grip at the right moment to execute their intended stroke.
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