a collage showing the different grip types on a tennis racket

Tennis Grips

Hello there, fellow tennis enthusiasts! I’m excited to dive into a topic that’s crucial yet often overlooked in our beloved sport: tennis grips. Now, you might be thinking, “Grips? Isn’t that just about holding the racket?” Well, yes and no. It’s like saying driving is just about turning the steering wheel – technically true, but there’s so much more to it.

In this post, we’ll unravel the mystery behind different types of tennis grips. These aren’t just ways to hold your racket; they’re the secret sauce to mastering your game, the handshake between you and your most loyal companion on the court. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, understanding these grips is key to elevating your play. So, grab your racket, and let’s get a grip on these techniques!

The Different Tennis Grips

When it comes to tennis, the way you hold your racket can dramatically influence your game. It’s like a painter choosing the right brush for a masterpiece. Among the plethora of options, four grips stand out: the Continental Grip, the Semi-Western Grip, the Eastern Grip, and the Western Grip. Each of these grips has its own use for different shots.

In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these grips in detail, helping you to understand when and how to use them effectively on the court. Whether you’re looking to refine your backhand or add some spin to your serves, mastering these grips can be a game changer.

Continental Grip

Ah, the Continental Grip, the granddaddy of tennis grips, a timeless classic. It’s the jack-of-all-trades in the world of tennis grips, offering versatility that’s unmatched. Originating from an era where rackets were wooden and shorts were… well, shorter, this grip has stood the test of time.

The continental grip is used for almost every shot in a tennis player’s arsenal except for the forehand. This includes the backhand, volleying on either side, the serve and the slice among others. This can vary a bit on the serve depending on what kind of spin you want.

Ideal for a flat serve, the Continental Grip allows you to effortlessly switch between forehand and backhand, making it a favourite for doubles players and volley enthusiasts. It’s particularly effective on faster court surfaces, where reaction time is key.

Eastern Grip

Now, let’s talk about the Eastern Grip, a true bridge between the old-school Continental and the modern Semi-Western. It’s like the middle child in the family of tennis grips, often overlooked but incredibly versatile and reliable. The Eastern Grip allows for more natural contact with the ball on both forehand and backhand sides, making it a fantastic choice for players who prefer a straightforward, flat shot with just a hint of topspin. This grip feels as natural as a handshake, aligning your hand and racket in a comfortable, intuitive position.

a tennis racket showing the eastern forehand grip

It’s particularly effective on medium-paced court surfaces, where it provides a great balance between power and control. With the Eastern Grip, you’re equipped to handle a variety of shots, from deep baseline rallies to aggressive net plays.

Western Grip

The Western Grip is particularly effective on slower court surfaces, like clay, where the ball can really take advantage of that extra spin. It’s a grip that requires a bit of wrist flexibility and strength, but once mastered, it allows for aggressive baseline play and high-arcing shots that can push opponents back. While it’s not typically the first choice for backhand or serve, its forehand prowess is unparalleled.

a tennis racket showing the western forehand grip

Semi-Western Grip

On the court, the Semi-Western Grip shines across a variety of surfaces, making it a great all-rounder. It’s particularly effective on hard courts, where its blend of spin and power can keep opponents on their toes. With this grip, your forehand becomes a formidable weapon, capable of producing deep, penetrating shots with enough topspin to challenge your opponent’s baseline game.

a racket showing the semi-western forehand grip

Tennis Grip Sizes

Having the correct grip size on your tennis racket can make or break your tennis game. To large, and you opening yourself up to injuries. Too small and the grip is likely going to feel uncomfortable to swing. You need to make sure that you choose the correct racket grip size in order to get the best out of your tennis racket.

What Shots Require What Grip

As we delve into the world of tennis, it’s fascinating to see how the types of grips we choose can greatly influence our shots. It’s like picking the right tool for a specific task. Each grip, with its unique characteristics, lends itself to certain shots more naturally than others. Understanding this relationship between grips and shots is like unlocking a secret level in a video game; it can elevate your game to new heights.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll explore how each grip – the Continental, the Semi-Western, the Eastern, and the Western – aligns with different types of shots. This insight will not only enhance your technical skills but also your strategic thinking on the court. It’s about making the racket an extension of your hand, and each grip a different language spoken between you and the ball. From powerful serves to tricky volleys and spin-laden groundstrokes, knowing what shots require what grip is a crucial part of your tennis journey. Let’s step into this world of tactical play, where your grip becomes your guide to mastering the art of tennis.


When it comes to the forehand, the choice of tennis grip can be as impactful as the stroke itself. This shot, a staple in any player’s arsenal, truly comes to life depending on the grip you choose. The Western Grip and the Semi-Western Grip are particularly notable for their effectiveness in executing a forehand. With the Western Grip, your forehand becomes a topspin-heavy powerhouse, ideal for high-bouncing, aggressive shots that can push your opponent off the baseline. It’s especially useful on slower court surfaces where you can exploit the spin to your advantage.

a tennis player hitting a forehand

On the other hand, the Semi-Western Grip offers a more balanced approach, giving you the flexibility to generate topspin while maintaining control and depth in your shots. This grip is a versatile choice for various court surfaces, making it a favorite among players who prefer a more all-rounded game. If you are learning how to hit a forehand, most coaches recommend the semi-western for its versatility and ease of use.


The backhand, a crucial component of a tennis player’s repertoire, is profoundly influenced by the choice of grip. In the world of backhands, the Continental Grip takes centre stage. The Continental Grip, with its vintage charm, is perfect for those classic, slicing backhands that can disrupt an opponent’s rhythm. It’s especially effective on faster court surfaces where the ball skids low, making it difficult for the opponent to return with power. This grip offers a level of finesse and control, allowing you to place your slices with surgical precision.

a tennis player hitting a backhand

Many players may wonder whether the one-handed or two-handed backhand is better to play with. Each backhand uses its own grip, with the one-handed backhand using an eastern backhand grip. Learning how to use each backhand can be helpful. However, it seems that the two-handed backhand reigns supreme is terms of professional play because of its consistency.

Serves and Volleys

Serves and volleys, the dynamic duo of the tennis world, are significantly influenced by the grip you choose. The Continental Grip is the undisputed champion when it comes to serves and volleys. For serves, this grip offers a mix of power and variety, enabling you to execute everything from flat bombs to wicked slice serves. Learning serves that add variety to your game is crucial, however, changing your grip too much for each kind is not recommended as it can throw off your muscle memory.

tennis player demonstrating how to stand for a serve in tennis

The beauty of the Continental Grip lies in its ability to provide wrist flexibility, crucial for generating spin and adding an element of surprise to your serves. It’s like having a secret weapon up your sleeve, ready to unleash ace after ace.

Switching to volleys, the Continental Grip continues to shine. It’s perfect for those quick, reflex volleys at the net, offering the stability and maneuverability needed to swiftly change directions and angles. The grip allows for a firm yet relaxed hold on the racket, crucial for those soft touch volleys and crisp put-away shots.

Other Shots

Shots like the smash, dropshot and the lob all tend to use the continental grip. This is because of the extra control and strength you gain from using the continental grip. These shots use a lot of movement in the wrist, so the continental grip is very useful in these cases. At times, the players forehand grip will be used for these shots, however this won’t normally be by choice and it shouldn’t be for you either!

How to Choose a Grip

For everything but the forehand, the continental grip should be your go-to. This is kind of a must-have, it’s like playing tennis with a racket, you have to do it. The forehand is where you get a bit of choice between western, semi-western and eastern.

It’s important to consider your physical attributes. Factors like hand size, wrist flexibility, and arm strength play a significant role in determining which grip feels most natural and effective for you. Experimenting with different grips during practice sessions can provide invaluable insights. Pay attention to how each grip affects your shot accuracy, power, and spin.

Additionally, consider your growth as a player. Are you looking to develop a particular aspect of your game? Perhaps a grip that challenges you slightly, pushing you out of your comfort zone, might be the best choice for long-term development.

Ultimately, the right grip should make the racket you choose feel like an extension of your arm. It should enhance your natural abilities and help you express your best game on the court. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all in tennis grips. It’s about finding the perfect match for your unique style, and when you do, it’s like finding the key to unlock your full potential as a tennis player.

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