Serve grip of pros

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by prostaff_fan, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. prostaff_fan

    prostaff_fan Rookie

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    I recently noticed during my Indian Wells trip (had some good courtside seats :)) that most of the pros tend to have an extreme continental grip for the serve. More like an eastern backhand grip. I watched Raonic, Anderson, Federer, Murray and others. I was sitting diagonally from the court so had a nice view of the serving motion. I might be wrong, so wanted to verify with others who have watched pros serving. I have a continental grip for serving, but have been experimenting with the eastern backhand grip. It still does not come natural to me, but when I get it right the serving swing motion seems to be faster through the air and also it seems to work great for wide serves on the deuce side. Does anyone here serve with such a grip and know what advantages it might have?
     
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  2. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    The advantage is easier spin generation. I hit topspin serves with this grip. Everything else (slice, flat) is continental.
     
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  3. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    I recently switched to a mild eastern BH grip. Turned out that the serve that everybody laughed at immediately turned into my greatest weapon!

    A grear measure of the huge difference: previously my serves hit the back fence on 2nd bounce, now they hit the curtain at about shoulder height.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
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  4. BorderLine

    BorderLine Rookie

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    I had these same thoughts a couple of months ago and started hitting serves with the eastern grip to get more spin. Once you hit about 50, it loses the awkwardness and your power also goes up.

    I got some TE soon after, but it could have been from other variables (slice form, strings, over playing, etc.)

    I knew juniors growing up that had great spin serves using an eastern grip.

    If it is considered safe and is solid technique, I think I want to use it.

    Would love to hear more feedback...
     
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  5. prostaff_fan

    prostaff_fan Rookie

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    One of my friends who has a very good wide serve and a very good serve in general also uses the eastern backhand grip for serving. May be I just need to practice a lot before I get comfortable with it.
     
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  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Lotsa practice for sure.
    Extreme conti, or conti with a twist towards eBackhand, gives more spin, more RHS, and usually, not always, takes away some ball speed with the added spin.
    Most pro's practice a bit. Through a bit of practice, their shoulders get loose and flexible, and they're young.
    Most of US don't practice much, our shoulders not young, so the flexibility is not always there.
    Use the grip that gives you a fast serve.
    Use the grip that gives you lots of spin for a second serve that goes IN.
    I've even been fooling around with a flat first grip that is conti with a twist towards eFOREhand, for a really flat ball with little effort....similar to Becker's.
     
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  7. prostaff_fan

    prostaff_fan Rookie

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    Makes a lot of sense..thanks LeeD!
     
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  8. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^ Yes, the grip that Boris and Serena often used for 1st serves was something very close to a semi-continental grip (between the conti and Eastern FH grip).

    At times, I have used a grip that is more extreme than a conti grip; one that is nearly an Eastern BH grip. I can definitely create different flavors of spin serves with the more extreme grip. Not a bad idea to play around with alternate grips if you are the type of player that can do this w/o messing yourself up. Some players are too rigid or set in their ways to make these changes. Many get frustrated too easily or just do not put enough effort into it.
     
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  9. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    What? Some pros don't get that much kick.
     
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  10. jersey34tennis

    jersey34tennis Semi-Pro

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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Hitting a back curtain 5' high, using a spin serve, is indeed an impressive accomplishment, something I cannot claim, and I claim all sorts of weird things.
    Typical backcurtain or wall is 21' behind the baseline.
    A flat serve bouncing that high, on an abrasive court, is .....good.
    A heavy spin serve?
     
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  12. fuzzfactory

    fuzzfactory Rookie

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    it's obvious he was exaggerating! (or delusional)
     
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  13. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    Whether its right or wrong i dont know, but i use this grip when i kick serve.. helps generate more spin and works for that serve.
     
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  14. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Okay, maybe shoulder height was a bit exaggerated. I was just hitting some all-out practice serves the other day and noted that each one of them clearly hit the fence on the first bounce, maybe waist high or less, but still a huge difference compared to my serve a month ago. And now I can also hit good wide serves on the deuce court, something I couldn't previously do.

    Remember that this was on a fast-bouncing indoor hardcourt. The curtain on these courts could be closer than it normally is, to save space? At least the wall is too close on those damn moonballs. :lol:
     
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  15. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    Re Murray - his grip looks more like a continental, almost semi. One of the reasons his serve is so damn ugly.
     
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  16. dave t

    dave t New User

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    I've always wondered about murray's grip and was surprised to see him on this list. He seems like one of the guys who doesn't use the more extreme grip (past continental, towards bh). It looks like his is straight continental or even a touch towards the fh?
     
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  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The common grip descriptions are usually not that accurate.

    When discussing grips two reference points on the hand and racket handle must be identified.

    This recent thread discusses the issue
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=483360&highlight=weak+continental

    The purpose of the thread was to discuss the 'strong continental grip' where the index knuckle is on bevel #2 and the hand's fat pad is more between bevels #1 & 2 or on bevel #1. https://vimeo.com/10566621

    Could the OP see two points on the hand? Were the servers mentioned at Indian Wells using a Continental Grip or a 'Strong Continental Grip'?
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
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  18. prostaff_fan

    prostaff_fan Rookie

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    Let me clarify..of the pros i saw, Raonic and Anderson seemed to have more of an extreme continental/eastern backhand grip. They definitely had the fastest serves compared to other pros that day. Some of Raonic's serves I could not even figure whether it hit inside or outside the service box. His fastest serve that day was around 145 mph. Murray had the slowest serve and I did not see much of an extreme grip on his serve. He did get upset that day by Raonic. You could really feel the difference in their serve speeds that day. I think Federers grip was somewhere between but not as extreme.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Don't link Milos/Kevin's grip with their service speeds.
    They can serve fast with any grip.
    Murray is slower with any grip.
    Fed becoming the slowest of the above with any grip.
     
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  20. prostaff_fan

    prostaff_fan Rookie

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    I understand the grip is just part of the equation but may be the extreme grip gives them better racquet head acceleration making the flat serves go faster.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I think it preference based on a long history of serving.
    Anderson is 6'8"+
    Milos is 6'5", but has really long arms.
    They serve just as fast with conti towards eForehand, but choose to use the grip they like.
     
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  22. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I think the OP is mostly correct. I think big chunk of bell curve in in the conti to strong conti group. Raonic looks to use near EBH at times and Becker did use a very soft conti.

    But, I think Federer, Nadal, Djoko, Murray and most others are in a conti grip and it is rare to see EBH grip.
     
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  23. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    In a few videos with closeups I guess I can see where I believe the first knuckle is. ? But seeing where the 'fat' pad on the heel of the hand is is a lot more difficult.
     
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  24. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    In a few videos with closeups I guess I can see where I believe the first knuckle is. ? But seeing where the 'fat' pad on the heel of the hand is is a lot more difficult.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=369265

    Also, most videos or pictures showing the grip don't include the type of serve.

    Raonic serve, close-up wrist. 420 fps. The arm is probably tilted slightly away from the camera and the racket is at a considerable angle toward the camera. -
    [​IMG]
    https://vimeo.com/65434652

    Raonic serve, close up wrist. 240 fps. The arm is probably tilted slightly away from the camera and the racket is at a considerable angle toward the camera.
    [​IMG]
    https://vimeo.com/63688135

    [​IMG]
    https://vimeo.com/63688134
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
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  25. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    TCJC,

    I agree with you. The typical pro serve grip is with the index knuckle on bevel 2 and the heel pad on bevel 1 to a greater or lesser extent.

    What isn't understood about the extreme grips is that they usually reduce the range of internal arm rotation in the forward swing, especially in lower level players.

    Unless your shoulder is quite flexible you won't make it out to that position in the followthrough with the racket fully turned over and on edge to the court.

    This is also why this grip often produces more spin--but often sidespin.

    If you can really rotate the upper arm all the way it may have advantages--or at least produce some different variations.
     
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  26. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    If I place my index knuckle on bevel #2 and the heel pad on bevel #2 (Continental), then try bevel #1 or between bevel 1 and 2 (both strong continental). These are the affects -

    1) affects the basic angle between the racket's long axis and the forearm.

    2) affects the angle of the strings relative to the wrist (or racket axis) in a complicated way that is not easy to describe.

    Try it yourself.

    Both of these angles are important for the pro serves, all of which use the internal shoulder rotation technique.

    In case 1) the angle between the forearm and racket axis is the angle that causes the ISR to produce racket head speed.

    In case 2) the angle of the strings directly relates to the angle of the strings for ball contact. (Maybe some pronation can also be set before or during the swing to affect this angle or maybe deliberate pronation isn't used and the forearm-wrist is relaxed and moves freely.? )

    In any case, the grip for pros matters for their ISR serving technique. Many recreation players are using unknown techniques so the effect of the grips on their serves is difficult to predict. I guess they might experiment and get better contact and freer racket movement.

    Probably - Especially for the kick serve different angles from using a different grip might give the desired ball contact. ??

    Very interesting research on shoulder flexibility. The ISR appears to continue after ball contact but that ISR might be unpowered by muscles soon after impact and just follow through. ??
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  27. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    The most important check point for grip feel on serve is the thumb and index finger pinching the widest bevels of the grip in a comfortable manner. On smaller badminton grip, many things can vary but the feeling of pinching comfortably based on the weight and circumference won't. Still the same conti.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  28. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    Chas,

    What you call continental I would call old style eastern forehand. Terms vary but for me there is no version of a "backhand grip" call it continental, eastern, or whatever, without some of the heel pad on top on bevel one.

    And yeah those exact racket ball path/contact angles are extremely difficult to describe accurately much less the relation to grip.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  29. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    When I hold the continental, I can see that I have some of the heel pad on bevel 1. However, the heel pad is a meaty part of my hand, so I've always had difficulty precisely defining where I'm holding the racket.

    But overall, I agree that I've always thought of index finger knuckle on bevel #2 and heel pad on bevel #1 or also slopping over toward #2 but partly on #1 as the standard continental grip.
     
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  30. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I'm using the definition for the Continental as explained in this FYB video starting at 3:11 sec. "Heel pad" defined earlier in the video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr2f8dmiwpU

    Now, after many years, I'm learning that, while the index knuckle might be on bevel #2, some or most (?) of the more advanced tennis players are placing the heel pad of the hand at various places other than bevel #2.

    I am not sure what you meant by
    "What you call continental I would call old style eastern forehand."
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  31. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    I am going to have to disagree with FYB. There are many problems with the content there--that's just one.

    WV I think you have it right. The heel pad is a big part of the hand but if a chunk of it isn't on the top bevel that isn't what I would call continental. Mac was partly on top and called it modified continental. Squarely on top would be continental. Move the index knuckle on top you have strong eastern. Fed and Sampras are probably around there.

    Old Style eastern forehands like Kramer and Budge have the index knuckle and heel pad both on bevel two. Not truly a continental forehand like the Laver generation or even Mac. But shifted higher than what I call modern eastern where both of those are on bevel 3.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  32. Gyswandir

    Gyswandir Rookie

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    Thanks John. Long ago, when I learned tennis, I was told continental is a handshake. For me, that was 2/1. In fact, I have wondered how come no one talks about this grip on the bh volley?! I don't see how you can have a good bh volley, with the 2/2. Personally, while I volley both sides with the 2/1, I know some people who shift towards 2/2 on the fh for more hand behind the ball and having better angles, but I compensate with the wrist.
     
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  33. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    G,

    Yep if you are 2/1 on the volley you can also shift it very slightly as appropriate. Stronger for a high backhand, weaker for a high forehand--but those things tend to happen naturally. That 2/1 grip is the place to be to learn and develop your technique and the grip for most shots at the net.
     
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  34. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    I noticed the same thing

    OP: I noticed the same thing and at first it seems baffling because everyone always says hit the serve with a continental grip. Most pros at IW I saw seem to hit with ebh. OR I wondered if it could be that they bend their wrist in such a way that it throws off our interpretation.

    Regardless. They seem to hold the racquet differently. This is why tennis is so confusing.
     
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  35. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    This recent thread discussed the placement in some detail. Diagram of the reference points of the hand are shown. Especially there were informative posts by Tight Lines.

    Is this the information to use to start and then fine tune the grip slightly?
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
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  36. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
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  37. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    But was the grip
    , or was it still continental and they just started with holding the raquet with the face up(horizontally)?
     
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  38. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    Harry,

    Nice image. Actually that is my hand from a Tennisplayer article. Did you find it out there somewhere on the net or where you a subscriber?
     
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