How To Hold a Tennis Racket
When you are first learning the game of tennis, there are a few fundamentals that need to be mastered. These help you play the game with sound technique and make the game more enjoyable. From footwork to hitting groundstrokes, there are a lot of things to get right before you can play tennis consistently and effectively.
However, one of the most basic but important techniques you will need to learn is how to actually hold a tennis racket. This is a fundamental skill that can help you progress your tennis game exponentially, as it will allow you to hit your shots in the most comfortable, efficient and technically sound way.
There are a fair few grips to remember when you are playing tennis, so understanding which grips to use in a given situation can be a challenge. That’s why we have put together this guide to make holding your tennis racket in the right way a doddle!
Which Tennis Racket is Right for You?
Before you can start holding your tennis racket in the right way, you need to make sure you’re using the right tennis racket for you! Choosing the perfect tennis racket is now easier than ever with our custom fitting service. We take the stress and hassle out of finding the perfect racket and string combination!
You should always use a racket that allows you to swing comfortably and freely through your shots.
The main things you need to consider are the racket’s weight, balance, swing weight and stiffness. These factors will determine the racket’s playing characteristics and how comfortable it is for you to play with. A great fit can feel effortless and like striking the ball is butter smooth, whereas a poor match can lead to low confidence on the court and even pose a risk of injuries like tennis elbow.
So, we have established that using a tennis racket that feels comfortable to swing is very important, but now let’s delve deeper into how holding the tennis racket the right way can improve your game!
How to Hold a Tennis Racket Based on Your Tennis Experience
There are a wide range of grips with which you can hold a tennis racket. The number of grips you change between for different shots will of course depend on your playing level and what you feel most comfortable with, but there are a few fundamental grips you should know about.
As a beginner player just learning the game of tennis, you will usually be advised to simply use a grip that feels comfortable. This may come in the form of holding the racket a bit higher up the grip so you can control the ball more effectively.
You may not have too much of a concern over how the racket is angled in your hand, just that you will be able to strike the ball in the middle of the string bed as many times in a row as possible.
Some beginner players may also feel most comfortable using both hands to grip the racket regardless of whether they are hitting a forehand or backhand may also help you feel secure when learning how to play the ball.
You should also think about gripping the racket firmly so the oncoming ball does not push the racket out of your hands, but not grip the racket so tight that you have no fluidity in your shots.
Overall, as a beginner you should aim to hold the tennis racket in as comfortable a way as possible, so you can play your shots with confidence and have a solid foundation to progress your game. The key here is to find something that works for you and allows you to play the game more consistently, whilst you start to develop your technique.
At the intermediate level, how you hold your tennis racket becomes more and more important. This is the stage at which you start learning what the different grips are and how to use them in different situations on the court. There are a number of grips to learn, but generally speaking you will change your grips based on two situations.
When you want to hit the ball flat or with slice, and when you want to hit topspin. When playing at the beginner level, you may have learned to hit most of your shots with a ‘chopper’ or continental grip.
This is the most basic and universal grip in tennis and is used for a wide range of shots. From serves to slice shots to volleys, this is the most basic tennis grip that new starters learn.
However, as you may well have experienced, when you try to hit the ball with more power with a chopper grip it can lead to all sorts of issues!
When you hold the racket in the continental grip, the strings will be facing upwards as you contact the ball. This causes the problem that as you add more power to your swing, the ball will simply fly out of the court and it will be very difficult to modulate your power.
This is not such a problem as you are learning the game, as you will likely be using a shorter backswing and therefore not be able to hit the ball with as much power anyway, as this is the most effective way to control the ball as an inexperienced player.
But, when you want to add more length and power to your swing you will need to adjust how you hold the racket to accommodate for these changes.
This is where the semi-western forehand and eastern backhand grips come into play. They are very common grips that can be easily found on the tennis racket with a bit of basic knowledge and cemented with repetition. These grips in particular are great for transitioning from a basic shovel or bunt technique to a more traditional swing.
When you consider yourself an advanced tennis player, transitioning between the different grips should really be second nature. At this stage of your tennis development changing from a continental to a forehand to a backhand grip is an automatic process.
As an advanced tennis player, you may even decide to hold your racket in a certain grip by default so you can reduce the time you need to get your favourite shot in to play in between strikes of the ball. For example, most players are taught to hold their racket in the continental grip when they are recovering between shots as this is the most versatile way to hold the tennis racket.
Whereas, if you are always looking to get your favourite shot (say, your forehand) in to play as often as possible, you may want to hold your racket with your forehand grip by default.
This way you will always be ready to attack the ball with your prefered weapon without having to even think about changing grips, putting you in that aggressive, proactive frame of mind more often. This can make a big difference to your mentality on the court and lead to you changing your game style for the better as a result.
This technique is particularly useful on returns of serve as you have a very small amount of time to react to the oncoming ball. Whilst the continental grip may feel like the most natural choice when returning, choosing your forehand grip (or at least a less extreme version of it) can help you block the ball back on your forehand side more effectively.
By automatically holding your racket in some form of forehand grip when you return, you can remain aggressive from the word go, whilst having the ability to change to a backhand slice grip easily.
Regardless of which grip you actually decide to hold your racket with when not actually hitting the ball, at least knowing that you can hold your racket in a different grip than the traditional continental grip can add another dimension to your game as an advanced player.
Popular Tennis Grips Explained
So, we have discussed how you may want to hold a tennis racket on a basic level, depending on whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced level player. But, you may be wondering how to actually hold the racket in these grips in a little more detail.
As we have mentioned, the continental or chopper is the most versatile grip out there. You can hit a vast number of shots with this grip and it forms the foundation of tennis technique across the board. You may use this grip to perform serves, volleys, slices and touch shots.
To find the continental grip, simply hold the racket like you are about to chop some wood with the frame. You should have a ‘V’ shape between your thumb and index finger as you grip the racket. This V should be covering the bevel on the side of the racket, giving you the option to hit your forehand or backhand shots with the same grip.
A little tip that is useful to bear in mind is that when you are hitting shots like volleys and slices, you will tend to want to keep your wrist firm and in an ‘L’ shape to keep your racket as strong as possible. You really want to get your racket driving through the ball on these shots, rather than whipping up the back of the ball with a heavy topspin forehand or backhand.
The eastern grip is a more classical way of holding the racket, particularly on the forehand side. Some hard hitting professionals like Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro still use this grip today so it is certainly a grip that you too can benefit from.
This is a grip favoured by players that are looking for more power than spin on their forehands, as it is less extreme and taxing on the wrist and forearm than the popular semi-western grip. The eastern forehand grip gives you the ability to hit the ball with topspin and is a good option if you have only just transitioned from hitting a flat forehand to a topspin one.
To find the eastern grip, start with the continental grip and simply rotate your racket anti clockwise by one bevel to find your eastern forehand grip, and one bevel clockwise from the centre to find your eastern backhand grip (as a right hander).
This is the most popular grip for hitting the modern tennis forehand these days. As racket and strings have become more and more technologically advanced, hitting heavier forehands with more power and more topspin has never been easier.
As a result of this, forehand grips have been able to become more and more extreme to accommodate for the desire of both recreational and professional players alike to hit lots of topspin.
The semi-western grip allows you to hit your forehand with a lot of topspin whilst retaining the ability to hit with power. You can also hit with aggression and a decent amount of margin for error using this grip, thanks to the additional net clearance and kick you’ll be getting on the ball.
To hold your racket in a semi-western grip, simply place your racket down on the ground in front of you and pick it up, with the ‘V’ between your thumb and index finger aligned to the larger, flatter bevel on the top of the racket.
This should be in line with the flat string bed. This means that as you fully extend your arm out in front of you to hit your shot, your strings should be square on to the ball. The racket face will be slightly closed and this is what gives you the ability to brush up the back of the ball and keep it in the court, by generating a lot of topspin.
Overall, there are a number of different ways to hold a tennis racket. These will alter depending on your playing experience, age and any existing injuries you may be carrying. At the beginner level, you may simply want to hold the racket in a way that feels comfortable, allowing you to hit your shots consistently.
As you start to improve your playing level, you may then want to explore some of the grips we have mentioned above and find the best way to hold a tennis racket for you!
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