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View Full Version : pistol grip or hammer grip on serve??


BillH
09-08-2004, 07:05 AM
What are your preferences for grip on serve - the first finger spread somewhat such as common with a forehand grip (pistol grip) or fingers together (hammer grip)? Does one grip or the other better facilitate the whip through the ball at the apex of the serve motion at ball contact? My observations during the Open (as best as I can see on a TV screen) seems to show both grips used. Is one better than the other or is it just a matter of preference? BTW, I use the pistol grip but was thinking about trying the other.

Chanchai
09-08-2004, 07:41 AM
I'm sure it's all preference...

For me, I think I mostly use pistol grip. I like to think of it as a loose grip, as if the racquet was an extension of my arm so to speak. Also, FYI, I strictly use continental grip for my serves--I haven't gotten used to using any other grip on serve (yet). But my serve is my main weapon and I win a lot of cheap points on opponents around 4.5 and below with it. Haven't played enough 5.0 players so I couldn't tell you, but I know I've had a share of aces and imposing serves on the 5.0 players that I have played against.

But I think a lot of people have generated some good weight and spin on the ball with hammer grip.

Back to my "pistol" grip... I do just about all serves with it. I will admit some people have advocated the hammer grip to me. I'm thinking the only serve I have that I feel is merely on par or maybe underpar for my level is my topspin serve or kickserve. I'm more than happy with my flat and slice serves. So I might try out the hammer grip myself to see if it helps get a bit more kick on my topspin serves.

I'm still getting good topspin and kick serves now and then, but I feel it varies for me--it's more 70% with good spin and weight, 30% it comes out as just a fast serve with topspin but hardly the desired effect.

-Chanchai

BillH
09-08-2004, 08:11 AM
Chanchai - I'm with you on the topspin/kick serve, somedays I'm happy with the net clearance and movement I get on the ball, other days I'm just lucky to get the ball in on second serves and there's no real action on the ball. I was wondering if the hammer grip might help me whip up behind and over the ball better on second serves. I'm playing doubles tonight, I'm going to give the hammer grip a few trys and see what happens. When I've tried it in the past, it seemed like I didn't have as much control of the racquet. That might be just a mental thing though. Thanks for your reply.

Tim Tennis
09-08-2004, 10:12 AM
Actually it probably does not make that much difference. If you are generating any kind of racquet head speed the fulcrum point is the knuckle on the base of your index finger. This is where all, OK most of the pressure is applied when you snap your wrist. When you spread your index finger on the racquet handle you are really positioning the knuckle on the base of your index finger plus setting the racquet head angle. I actually saw a video of Pete's serve. He started out with a pistol grip but as he really laid into his serve his index finger actually slipped to more of a hammer grip. Yikes, I will hear about that. Anyhow it is something to think about.

Look at this photo of the Continental grip. Where do you think all of the pressure is applied?


http://www.tennisgeometrics.com/serve_professi/IMAG0006.JPG



Look at this photo of the Eastern backhand grip. Same thing, when you snap your wrist all the pressure transfers to the knuckle on the index finger.

http://www.tennisgeometrics.com/serve_professi/IMAG0007.JPG

Anyhow food for thought. Sorry for being so Micro.

You got to love the game.

Chanchai
09-08-2004, 10:24 AM
I just want to reclarify, because I'm wondering if I got the terminology wrong...

Pistol Grip = Index knuckle on bevel, all other knuckles are wherever.

Hammer Grip = At least three knuckles on bevel?

I hope I got that right, but that's what I meant. Because when I think about it, I actually personally use and hold a hammer with a loose grip unless I'm gonna slam a nail down hard.

-Chanchai

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 10:28 AM
When it comes to the finger placement on the grip, it is a matter of what feels comfortable to you.

The issue regarding continental grip or eastern backhand grip for serves is an important technique to practice for further development of your serve. It allows your arm/hand to rotate properly throughout the serve motion.

However, grips are not absolutes. They are beginning guidelines that need to be refined to the player as each one of us are different.

Earlier in my teaching career I was more strict to the "ideal" serving grips for students to master. As I matured, I realized everyone is different and they need to be allowed to move their hand around so that fluidness in the serve can be achieved.

The only time I step in to correct a grip is when I see it detrimental to producing spin, efficiency, effectivness, and if it could cause injury later.

Tim Tennis
09-08-2004, 10:41 AM
Hi Bill,

Help us out. Just what is a pistol grip? I always thought of it as moving the index finger out on the racquet handle. Chanchia thinks more in terms of the placement of the knuckles. Maybe we are both kind of saying the same thing.

Thanks,

Ed

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 10:51 AM
Hi Bill,

Help us out. Just what is a pistol grip? I always thought of it as moving the index finger out on the racquet handle. Chanchia thinks more in terms of the placement of the knuckles. Maybe we are both kind of saying the same thing.

Thanks,

Ed

Good to see you online brother! Are you still winning your tournaments?

I have never heard of the pistol grip. I wish one of these days we would standardize our langauge throughout the tennis community. Tennis is still such a young sport with a very promising future.

I would like to know to what the poster is actually talking about, I got the feeling it is either one of the grips you mentioned or someone else has mentioned above.

This terminology is a lot like talking about a "kick serve". I usually ask the player if they could clarify so I know how to interact in the conversation.

On a different note, I would encourage all players to try Tim Tennis's product out to help achieve the proper grip and help in producing more power in your strokes. His revolutionary product is excellent and I highly recommend it. It has also been approved for tournament play by the USTA and will help a lot of people learn how to hold the proper grip for serving, groundstrokes, volleys, etc.

It is very revolutionary and I feel it is a great tennis training aid. If yoru interested please visit his site at http://www.tennisgeometrics.com/ it is a very inexpensive product that can really help your game.

Tim Tennis
09-08-2004, 11:09 AM
Good to see you online brother! Are you still winning your tournaments?

Thanks for asking. Well, yes and no. I won the first round match in 3 hours and 45 mins. Me and my opponent are sitting around drinking sports drinks as fast as we can, both of us cramping, wondering if we were going to survive and the tournament director comes up and tells me I have to play again in 2 hours. Had to forfeit that one. I did win the Chattanooga city closed, 55's. Yikes, no one wants to hear about that.

Good point about terminology. I used to think I knew what a pistol grip was now I am beginning to wonder.

BillH
09-08-2004, 11:10 AM
I have heard the grip where the first finger is spread away from the second finger refered to as a "pistol" grip. I grip the racquet that way for the forehand. Think of holding the handle of a gun with your first finger apart from the second finger and resting on the trigger. My post is not directed to where the knuckles fall on the bevels. I have also heard people say that the "hammer" grip (all fingers together) allows them to get more of whippy feel as they accelerate into the ball. I do feel like I have more control with the pistol grip.

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 11:21 AM
I have heard the grip where the first finger is spread away from the second finger refered to as a "pistol" grip. I grip the racquet that way for the forehand. Think of holding the handle of a gun with your first finger apart from the second finger and resting on the trigger. My post is not directed to where the knuckles fall on the bevels. I have also heard people say that the "hammer" grip (all fingers together) allows them to get more of whippy feel as they accelerate into the ball. I do feel like I have more control with the pistol grip.

Well no question the "pistol" grip will give you more control over the racquet as your hand is spreadout over the handle.

the hammer grip where the knuckles are parallel and not angled can (if used properly) give you more spin. This is a huge preference area.

I personally can not hit the ball well with a hammer grip. I have tried but it really screws up my game. I get plenty of power and topspin just by holding the racquet comfortably in my hand.

Chanchai
09-08-2004, 12:01 PM
Thanks for the clarifications....

Oh boy do I wish there was a standardized dictionary for tennis, but we'll always find ways to beat standard terminology I guess. It really is an individualized sport like so many other things. We just hope that everyone's techniques reduce the potential of injuries while extending their abilities....

Okay, I see what you mean now with the Pistol and Hammer grip. My original post actually still stands... because when I do hold the handle at a slight angle (loose by my terms), I do end up having a pistol grip. When I go for more of a knuckle-aligned or perpendicular grip (or whatever one wants to call it), I end up with a hammer grip.

I have to admit, I'm much more comfortable with the pistol grip--but some of the the things I've experimented with lately make good use of the hammer grip. Examples: what I've been calling a true-eastern grip, a rally forehand I've been working on (wrist is laid back, yet firm through most of the stroke--I usually whip through forehands).

To be honest, it's too awkward for me to use a hammer grip on continental grip techniques aside from the serve. I think I did used to use the hammer grip on continental when I used to pull my racquet back a bit (with the left hand on takeback) for slice backhands, but I don't do that anymore. However, it might be why I am constantly in miscommunication with a hitting partner of mine regarding volleys (he likes the racquet really vertical, mine is more angled on volleys) and backhands.

In fact... my volleys tend to be more "touchy" while he pops his volleys really well. Definitely worth consideration for me...

Thanks! I learned something new today and have more food for thought :)

-Chanchai

BillH
09-08-2004, 01:55 PM
One more thing on a different subject - the one-handed backhand. I highly recommend trying the hammer grip (thumb outside of first finger) with a semi or full eastern backhand grip. The increased stability over the hammer grip is is immediately noticeable. Thanks for everyone's input on this thread.

BillH
09-08-2004, 02:04 PM
sorry - I meant increased stability over pistol grip is noticable. Thanks again.

Bungalo Bill
09-09-2004, 09:59 AM
sorry - I meant increased stability over pistol grip is noticable. Thanks again.

I don't think that is true. Maybe for you it is, but many people do not have strong hands or are still developing their strength. Holding a true hammer grip does not promote stability especially if you have a grip that is more towards Continental or a true Eastern backhand grip.

As a player moves the grip more extreme, the hammer grip can allow the thumb to provide more stability with more of the palm behind the handle.

There is more to having a stable racquet head with a hammer grip then just having a hammer grip. Position of the palm, thumb, etc. all play a part.

When a player goes more extreme other complications surface as well.

BillH
09-09-2004, 10:47 AM
Bungalo Bill - I do need to modify my statement a bit - I was in a hurry yesterday and mispoke. I use an extreme backhand grip (knuckles on top - racquet face vertical to ground) with the thumb outside my first finger. I said eastern grip in my previous post and that was clearly wrong. I picked up on the hammer grip/knuckles on top backhand last year while watching a pro at a tennis resort in Florida give several lessons. I noticed he took several people with really weak backhands that were using a semi or full eastern grip (as I used at the time) and by moving the knuckles on top and adopting the hammer grip, these people developed a topspin drive that allowed them to hit a more offensive, as opposed to defensive, backhand. I then took a lesson with this guy and my backhand changed dramatically in a short time. You have a lot more experience with teaching a lot of people that obviously I don't have - so I accept what you say as far as players in general and the strength factor. I'm just recommending that people give it a try and see if they like it. It really made a big difference in my game. Also - again Bungalo Bill, thanks for taking the time to post on this website. A lot of people are getting alot of good info from you and look forward to your responses on the different issues that arise.

Bungalo Bill
09-09-2004, 10:52 AM
Bungalo Bill - I do need to modify my statement a bit - I was in a hurry yesterday and mispoke. I use an extreme backhand grip (knuckles on top - racquet face vertical to ground) with the thumb outside my first finger. I said eastern grip in my previous post and that was clearly wrong. I picked up on the hammer grip/knuckles on top backhand last year while watching a pro at a tennis resort in Florida give several lessons. I noticed he took several people with really weak backhands that were using a semi or full eastern grip (as I used at the time) and by moving the knuckles on top and adopting the hammer grip, these people developed a topspin drive that allowed them to hit a more offensive, as opposed to defensive, backhand. I then took a lesson with this guy and my backhand changed dramatically in a short time. You have a lot more experience with teaching a lot of people that obviously I don't have - so I accept what you say as far as players in general and the strength factor. I'm just recommending that people give it a try and see if they like it. It really made a big difference in my game. Also - again Bungalo Bill, thanks for taking the time to post on this website. A lot of people are getting alot of good info from you and look forward to your responses on the different issues that arise.

Ok, I can get there. So you do have an extreme backhand grip. In this case, you can gain stability from the thumb as it can come more under the handle and the palm is more behind the handle. The hammer grip can help you generate more topspin fromthe rotation of your forearm.