Forehand Grips - Semi-Western or Eastern or use Both?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Darkness, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. Darkness

    Darkness New User

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    I am currently switching to a Semi-Western Grip and windshield wiper forehand. Do you recommend using this grip most of the time to help with consistency or do players alternate grips back to eastern for certain shots?

    For example, as this grip is new to me, I use the eastern for returning serves but during rallies switch to Semi-western. For low shots, I switch to eastern. Any thoughts?
     
    #1
  2. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    You might need an eastern for slice and for serves. I would recommend semi-western for almost everything else. Backhand side could be tricky with semi-western though...
     
    #2
  3. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    6,513
    Location:
    France
    Eastern for serves? Yeah no. The slice point although is relevant. I did the switch, and feels good man. Have to adjust the swing so you swing a bit more in front to adjust the swing path to the ball, since at the same spot when hitting with a eastern grip, the racquet head would be a bit too closed.
     
    #3
  4. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Eastern for serves if you are looking to keep it very flat, low, and penetrate the court well. For a topspin serve, do not use Eastern.
     
    #4
  5. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    The OP actually said E for returning a serve. It sounds like folks are responding to the idea that he's hitting the serve with an E. fh, which is always a bad thing.

    Back to the fh: honestly, I'd say pick a horse and ride it. SW is a great grip. You can definitely hit low balls with it, and generate some wicked side spin to boot. It should be great for returning serves too because you can still block it back with that grip if the server is ripping them at you.

    The only other fh grip you need is to be occasionally able to use a continental when you're in trouble and, personally, I really like using a continental when someone hits really low and short on my fh side and I'm approaching. I love that Federer squash fh he hits sometimes when he gets pulled really wide - great little shot to stay in the rally.
     
    #5
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,278
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Personally, I like ONE forehand grip, SW, for topspin forehand that can be flattenned out with less backswing and more direct swingpath.
    I already have E backhand grip for topspin, and E side of conti for slice backhands, and Conti for first serves, and Conti with slight E backhand for second serves and twists.
    My brain would not want to handle different forehand grips.
     
    #6
  7. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Does anyone care to explain why an Eastern forehand grip is wrong for serves?
     
    #7
  8. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Messages:
    613
    Very difficult to hit spin serves with Eastern FH grip.
     
    #8
  9. eidolonshinobi

    eidolonshinobi Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,476
    Location:
    Sunny San Diego
    Made the switch from Eastern to a semi and never looked back.

    Low, high, flat, spin...this grip does them all well.
     
    #9
  10. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    Your sig says that you're a 5.5 and full time instructor. Respectfully I'll turn this around and ask what's right about using an E. fh grip for serves. Do you teach it? Do you use it yourself? Can you name any pros that use it?

    I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, I'm really curious if you think an E fh is a good serving grip.
     
    #10
  11. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Messages:
    3,895
    Location:
    A green and pleasant land
    I once asked Younes El Aynaoui what grip he hit his forehand with and he said "which forehand"

    cheers
     
    #11
  12. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    2,090
    For a forehand you can use a grip between SW and eastern. I believe it's called extreme eastern here. Very versatile, can use it for all types of FH shots, high and low. Except the slice, there i go continental.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
    #12
  13. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    2,090
    Boris Becker is the only pro I heard of using an eastern forehand grip for his (first) serve.
     
    #13
  14. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    No, your curiosity is very understandable. I do teach an E fh grip for serves (for most of my students).

    Here is why:
    Typically a continental fh grip for serves will allow the wrist snap in the service motion. This wrist snap allows players to have a much higher toss and utilize their reach. It also enables them to hit with much more spin (using continental especially). More spin means a higher initial top speed, and a higher percentage. A win win situation right? Normally I try to teach the majority of what pro players do. However, in this case I do not. Although Becker did use this serve, its irrelevant.

    An E fh grip will inhibit the wrist snap. This means the toss will be lower (better in wind), and the serve will stay very low. This serve will be flat as a pancake. It will cause the ball to penetrate the court extremely well. Obviously you will have a lower initial speed, however you will have a much higher final speed. Most people fail to take this into consideration.

    Have you ever noticed that when Nadal hits a serve 131 MPH the commentators comment that it is a big serve (almost a patronizing pat on the back), but when Isner hits 131 MPH the commentators praise him? No its not because they are Rafa haters, Isners serve is much more flat. A flat serve will conserve its initial speed much better. A serve that is 131 MPH will only be 95.31 MPH by the time it reaches the opponent http://www.donthireddy.us/tennis/speed.html. In person, you can see this drop in speed. The serve with lots of spin will have more of an arch (giving the opponent more time to react and it will sit up after the bounce. This loss in speed, bounce characteristics, and in-air-effects are more commonly discussed in groundstroke threads: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=296863&page=2. In sum, Pros hit a flatter shot for the offensive put away due to the ball staying low, penetrating the court well, and maintaining initial speed.

    If a flat serve is so awesome then why don't more pros use it?
    Flat serves are very inconsistent. Its worth repeating. Flat serves are VERY inconsistent. Taller players are able to hit a flat serve more consistently (due to their initial height giving them more clearance over the net). This is also why tall players tend to hit a flatter ball on groundstrokes as well. In the Pros a second serve can mean certain death. Pros are able to attack second serves with ease (even well hit second serves). Have you noticed that whoever wins a match typically has a high first serve %? That is why pros do not hit super flat serves.

    Why do I teach it to some players?
    Very few players that I work with have aspirations to play on the pro tour. Typically attacking a second serve is uncommon for high school and rec players (assuming the second serve is hit well). I think Pancho Villas said that: "you are only as good as your second serve." This is what I teach my students. Have a VERY strong second serve. Typically, the topspin serve kicking high to the backhand (hit somewhat soft) becomes less effective at the 4.5-5.5 NTRP level. Then you need variety or need to hit it with much more spin and accuracy. Pros hit nearly perfect second serves, and they are still crushed if they have to rely on second serves. I do not find this to be the case, except in 4.5 level tennis or higher.

    Philosophy
    Tennis gives you a rare opportunity to have a second try regardless of your first try. Why not go as huge and risky as you can on your first try? If an NBA basketball player got two tries to sink a wide open shot, I guarantee you that 90% or more would go for a 3-pointer on their first shot.

    Final Thoughts
    I have had exceptions before. And when that 3.5 level player is able to crush a topspin second serve, then I obviously work on increasing first serve percentage (which is quite easy to do with a slight grip change and more topspin). Normally, until the 4.5 level, a high kicking topspin serve is almost a weapon on its own (not just a tool to help the serve stay in and keep the opponent back). Yes your first serve percentage will be bad (around 50% on an average day). However, few players under 4.5 have the ability to crush a second serve on the rise.

    Fell free to ask any further questions. I've never actually typed all of this out before, so I may have skipped over some things. I encourage everyone to at least try a first serve with an E fh grip. Crush it flat and just see how your ball reacts in the air and after the bounce. Try a few with your hitting partner and see what he/she thinks, you might be surprised...
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
    #14
  15. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    So sorry! I forgot to answer your question asking if I use it. For indoor hard courts? You bet! For an outdoor clay court...not so much. Surface is very important. Generally, my rule is that if my opponent can't attack my second serve, then I will bomb first serves all day. Anytime that they start to attack either my first or second serve (several collegiate level players that I hit with do), then I boost the variety and consistency. Keep them on their toes (high first serve %) and keep them guessing (variety of flat, slice, topsin, and heavy-spin/kick).
     
    #15
  16. NE1for10is?

    NE1for10is? Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    475
    I used to only use a SW grip until I started taking lessons from a coach I respect a lot. He advocates using an eastern for flat shots and switching to SW if you want more heigth ad spin for a typical rally shot. I do get more pop with the eastern grip and find it easier to hit flat when I need to. I do like the eastern for the return of serve. I'm still getting used to switching back and forth during a rally. Same goes for the 1HBH.
     
    #16
  17. VeeSe

    VeeSe Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    211
    I just use extreme Eastern for everything, so I guess it's close to SW anyway (half bevel away), but I see no real need to change.

    edit: but to someone just starting out I would go with semiwestern.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
    #17
  18. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    Becker used a continental grip, not an E. forehand. It might (probably) have been shaded a tad to the E fh side, but it's continental.
     
    #18
  19. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I appreciate the time you took to write all that out.

    Respectfully I can't say I agree with your philosophy. In my opinion there are a couple of really important reasons to avoid the E fh serve.

    The biggest reason is that using an E. fh grip completely changes the stroke mechanics of the serve relative to hitting with a continental, or even an E backhand grip. The shoulder position, the swing path, how the joints all work together is different. It's difficult to see how a player goes from one set of mechanics for first serve, and then a whole different set for a second serve. As you noted spin is a difficult (almost impossible) thing with an E fh grip, so if you use it for a second serve you'll be just lightly popping it over the net.

    The other big reason is that, as you mention, the serve is really inconsistent. It's too inconsistent to be of much use in my opinion. True, you can crank some serious speed with an E. fh grip, but because of the complete lack of spin unless you're as tall as Isner you're not going to get a lot of them in. I've typically seen about 10-20%.

    At the junior level and among more skilled players it also has the problem of being easy to read and relatively easy to return considering the speed. You can see the racquet face of the server squaring up to the ball well before it strikes the ball. This allows you to read where the ball is going. The ball is always going to hit at the very back of the service box and bounce up the same amount, so the serve has a very consistent height. As a returner you just need to block all this pace back, which will make for a pretty nice return, and you're in the point.

    With a continental grip you can hit the ball from very hard and flat-ish (but with some spin to pull it down to the court) to heavy spin. You can hit it totally flat too if you want, and least you're likely not telegraphing your intended location. You can use the same basic motion and toss for first and second serves. The spin makes the ball bounce is slightly different ways. The returner is never quite sure what the ball is going to do. That's gold. I'd give up 20-30 mph of pure velocity for different bounces, kicks, etc. that you get from hitting with a continental grip, not that you have to make that trade off.

    One last note, Becker used a continental grip, not E fh. Check out youtube. The index knuckle is on bevel 2, not 3. During his set-up it looks like an E. fh, but it's not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
    #19
  20. tkoziol

    tkoziol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Well thats the beauty of tennis. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree. I agree that Becker did use a continental, but he did hit E fh occasionally as well. You are correct that an E fh grip would be difficult for spin. I do not recommend using it on a topspin second serve. One important factor is the ball kicking up (sitting up in most cases). Even a continental hit perfectly flat will kick up. I doubt that a flat serve would be easy to read for those under a 4.5 level. As for blocking it back, its actually quite difficult. The ball is below your knees and is around 90 MPH, goodluck! As for the mechanics, have you tried using an E FH grip? The mechanics do change, but its not as drastic as you claim. As for having the same toss location, you cannot have the same toss location for a topspin serve and a flat serve (watch a few slow motion videos of pros on youtube).

    For the first serve I believe that you should go as big as you can...IF (and only if) your opponent can't punish your second serve. In my opinion the biggest serve is a flat E FH grip serve. Very risky, but very rewarding. If your opponent can read it, punish your second serves, or if you want to increase 1st serve %, then switch to a continental grip.

    All done! Sorry for the thread-jack!
     
    #20
  21. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    3,871
    Location:
    San Diego
    uhm.... what?
     
    #21
  22. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,750
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I use an Eastern or Extreme Eastern depending on the situation. I generate a lot of topspin. Admittedly, the key to my topspin is the relaxation of the grip and ensuring a very elastic stretch-shortening cycle on the swing forward. It gives me a lot of racquet head speed.

    If I didn't have the racquet head speed created from the SSC, I'd never be able to create any decent topspin. I used to have a plain Eastern forehand. I have no idea how anybody can create noticeable/interesting topspin without a really good SSC.
     
    #22
  23. Ash_Smith

    Ash_Smith Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Messages:
    3,895
    Location:
    A green and pleasant land
    ^^^assume you're talking about a forehand groundstroke here rick, rather than a serve?!?!?
     
    #23
  24. Darkness

    Darkness New User

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Semi-Western

    Thanks for all the replies. I went out and just used a Semi-Western Today. Even though I am now making more errors, and am tempted to switch back to an eastern grip, I think it is the way to go and will try to stick to iy. It gives me more spin. I don't like the idea of having to change grips constantly and may cause me more errors.

    I am having problems hitting cross court with a Semi-Western though. Do you hit the ball even farther out front than normal?:confused:
     
    #24
  25. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    Eastern's cool too. I would say that if you're really going to try out a grip then you have to give it a couple of weeks with some wall or ball machine sessions and just hitting groundies with a buddy to see if it's really something you want to try. If you decide to go with it then you'll have to commit to it and learn the idiosyncrasies.
     
    #25
  26. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    No worries. We can disagree on opinions.

    One statement you made above that was stated as an absolute was about toss location. We should probably slide that to the opinion side as well. It's difficult, but it is possible to hit flat and topspin serves with the same toss location. That was one of things that made Sampras' serve so hard to read. I personally find that varying the amount the toss is into or out of the court the biggest help on spin verses flatter serves. It's hard for your opponent to read the depth of the toss from 80 feet away. I try to keep the side to side location the same for all my serves however (given that my toss location isn't nearly as consistent as I'd like it to be) since that's a lot easier to read.

    OK, back to forehands.
     
    #26
  27. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    2,090
    Yes, when you normally hit with an eastern your contact point with a sw should be a little bit more in front of you.
    And for hitting cc you should also hit more in front compared to hitting dtl or inside out (this does not depend of what grip you use, it goes for conti as well as eastern or SW/W and everything in between).
     
    #27
  28. watungga

    watungga Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2011
    Messages:
    591
    Federer FH grip is eastern.

    I just found out why.

    The acceleration of racquet from prior to impact, impact, and post-impact, have all one common denominator. It is the point of rotation which is his wrist, like a door hinge.

    If he starts on SW grip, the stringbed angle to impact will be too close, which the ball will always hit the net.
     
    #28
  29. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Messages:
    613
    Some long explanation by the OP trying to defend teaching the incorrect service grip to beginners. I've seen Tennis teachers at Parks and Recreation teach the eastern FH grip for serves. It's a shortcut grip that allows beginners to get the ball into the service box and avoid double faults, but good luck learning a slice or kick serve later on. You can spot that fry pan grip (eastern FH grip) a mile away, especially on the 2nd serve, it looks crappy. And no you don't have to have aspirations to be on the pro-tour to learn the continental grip for serves.
     
    #29
  30. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,384
    How like a door hinge? Forearm pronation or wrist flexing?
     
    #30
  31. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,750
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, definitely. Forehand groundstrokes.

    I was about to give up the Eastern completely (even though I'm very successful with it in other parts of my game)... until a very nice guy (more experienced player) told me the proper way to generate topspin with an Eastern forehand using a stretch-shortening cycle.

    I think I shanked balls for a month while I learned it. But man... what a difference now.
     
    #31

Share This Page