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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HOW TO...Basic Grip for forehand and backhand

Finding the best way to hold a racket can be a difficult task. But here is a way to simplify the selection of gripping techniques that have such names as Eastern, Western, Semi-Western or Continental. 

  • Placing the palm of your hand on the strings, slide it down the handle onto the grip
  • Stop sliding when the heal of your hand hits the wide bottom of the racket called the butt
  • Close your hand around the grip as if you were shaking hands. 
This is the most classic and common forehand grip used on the dominant side of your body (right side for righties and left side for lefties).

Take a good look at the bottom BUTT portion of your grip and you will notice it's the shape of an octagon and displays 8-beveled sides. We can use the bevels as points of reference as I describe their relationship to your hand. Keep in mind that both the size of your hand and the size of your grip affect what you see. When holding the forehand grip as already mentioned, there is a natural shape of the letter "V" created. For what I am terming the classic forehand, the "V" shape should fall somewhere on the right bevel of the grip.

The groundstroke hit on the non-dominant side of your body is called the backhand. To hold the racket for this shot, we can once again use the sliding technique but in a different way. 

  • Take your dominant hand and clamp it over the edge of the racket head with the thumb now facing the fingers
  • Slide your hand down onto the grip until hitting the racket butt
  • Close your hand and you will find that the natural "V" shape falls on the left bevel
This is the classic grip commonly used for the one-handed backhand. For a two-handed backhand, place the non-dominant hand above the dominant one and hold a forehand grip. I would suggest trying both styles since even two-handed players hit a one-handed groundstroke due to the occasional length-of-reach issue.

IMPORTANT BACKHAND TIP: On the one-handed backhand, be sure to support the racket weight by keeping your opposite hand under the throat area of the racket before you begin your swing (more on this later).

Holding the proper grip can make all the difference in your stroke. And don’t forget to change grips between hitting a forehand and backhand groundstroke. Picture this in your mind: when a different side of the racket face (strings) strikes the ball, the grip should change. 

Your wrist and elbow will thank you for many years to come.

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