Service Grips

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by mbm0912, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. mbm0912

    mbm0912 Professional

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    Okay...Everything I have ever read on here and other places stress "always use a conti grip to serve". I still have a hard time with this, as it feels so much more natural to migrate to more of an eastern fh. Still, I make myself try and serve with conti because that's "correct". I played a guy last night who had a serve much better than mine and he used a strong eastern forehand grip. Why is it so important to use a continental when serving? Thanks
     
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  2. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Well, the continental grip allows more wrist-forearm action. Also, as you pronate to strike the ball the pace is increased. Another reason is that all the men and women on the Pro circuit use continental grip. Since volley is associated with the serve and since continental grip is used for the volleys, conti is the most suitable grip for the serve also. The Eastern FH grip will put you in trouble in case you like to serve and volley. It's better in this case you use the same grip, continental grip.

    In the past Pros, Boris Becker used to serve with close to Eastern FH grip.
     
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  3. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    It's difficult to put any spin on a serve with an Eastern Forehand grip, can pretty much only hit flat.

    I could serve pretty hard with an Eastern Forehand grip when I was just playing tennis during summers..but I'm 6'1 and I jumped into the serve, so that helped. It was a flat bullet that barely cleared the net.

    The first step I think to realizing the benefits of the continental on the serve is to learn to serve standing sideways with your feet flat..no jumping, no knee bend...just practice tossing the ball and hitting it with a continental and wrist snap. This way your wrist natually pronates, and you are kind of swinging across your body as opposed to out in front of it as you have to with an Eastern. You need to get the swing down before you move on to the knee bend and everything else.

    There will basically be an epiphany moment where you realize you will never hit another serve with an Eastern again.
     
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  4. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    It would be rather telling to be able to see what sort of a move you're putting on the ball when you serve now - not demanding a video post, but wondering just what type of serve you hit. Do you vary your serve from flat balls to spinners or kickers with that grip?

    The popular guidelines point toward using a continental grip for serving so that we can hit most types of serves by only varying the wrist/racquet angle and swing path, and contact point. The eastern forehand grip might make it a little easier to really pancake a flat serve with a lot of heat, but it can force some serious compensation in a player's motion to serve with spin.

    Hold your hand up in front of you with your palm facing away from your face and fingers pointing up (looking at the knuckles on the back of your hand). Look at how much more free your wrist is to move forward and back (palm down, palm up) compared with side to side (palm away from you while fingers move right and left). That forward and back orientation allows for free wrist movement and better racquet speed, so that's what we're after for good serves.

    When you hold the racquet with and eastern forehand grip, it puts the racquet face roughly in the same plane as your palm. That means that when you swing flat over the top through the serve, your wrist is relatively free to bend forward and let the racquet fly. Now think about making angular contact with the ball to generate spin. That's more easily achieved with the grip position angled - hello continental - yet your wrist is still in that orientation where it's free to flex back and forward (I mix up the flex and extend motions, so I'll stick with my own jargon here).

    Hitting with spin while using an eastern fh grip can often force a server to use an outside-in swing path (right-to-left for a righty) across the ball for a righty server. Not something that afflicts everyone, but it's a nasty gremlin to un-learn for anyone with this issue.

    With the continenal grip, the wrist can be slightly rotated to allow a more flat racquet face through contact or a more angled racquet face for spin with the same general position that allows for the most wrist mobility. Again, this is a guideline. I'll actually shade my grip slightly toward eastern forehand to really smack a flat serve, but I'll shade toward eastern backhand to get better spin for some topspin/kick serves. Hard to argue with the potential for better serving when the continental grip is the foundation.
     
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  5. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I'll put it like this. Once you learn how to pronate properly (which requires a neutral grip like the continental), you should be able to simply snap the ball faster into the box than you could with your eastern grip serve, legs and all. It's that explosive and efficient of a movement.
     
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  6. kopfan

    kopfan Rookie

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    Conti serve grip allow you to hit the ball flat or side spin or topspin. This grip will allow natural pronation of wrist at, during and after contact. An eastern backhand serve allow better topspin serve but not effective for flat or side spin serve. An eastern forehand allow better flat and side spin serve but ineffective for topspin serve.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm learning to serve right handed, and an eastern forehand gives instant gratification and allows me to play at the 3.5 level.
    If I switched to conti, it would take a couple months of practice and play before I can serve to the side I need to, and to hit a decent fast first serve with a consistent second serve.
    Meanwhile, I'd be stuck only practicing, not playing.
    Instant gratification is worth something, since I play left handed, and don't practice at all. I"m certainly NOT going to go out and practice my rightie serves with conti grip.
     
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  8. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    So you're admitting that it is inferior in quality in the long-run, but superior for just hitting a ball in without much technique? I can understand that position, but it really isn't answering the original posters question. I believe he wants to be able to understand why the continental is better for a high-level serve.

    As a partial answer to the original question, my guess is that the continental grip makes it easier to internally rotate the shoulder into the ball and add pace and spin while still putting the racket face in an effective position for hitting a serve. An experiment is to try to hold the racket in a semi-western grip and then throw hard into the serve. It is very hard to do. With a semi-western the tendency is to want to push at the ball and the timing gets thrown off. Grips toward continental and eastern bh allow the server to pull the racket into the ball and create a lot of whip without much effort while still allowing topspin.

    All the top ten players are hitting their serves with some variant of the continental. Becker is often cited as the one great server who hit with almost an eastern fh, but I think even in his case it was rotated toward the continental.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yes, shortterm low ambition, a eastern forehand serve is easier.
    I will play rightie maybe 3 times a year, total.
    Lefty the others, and only maybe twice a week.
    I don't have time to practice my rightie tennis.
    So, 3 days a year, it's eastern forehand for serves.
     
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  10. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I was shadow swinging some serves with my left hand today, and it didn't seem too unnatural even with a continental grip (I'm a rightie). However, I can imagine that trying to time the ball and get it into the box would be difficult, as I don't throw well with my left hand.

    Lee, do you agree that the primary benefit of the continental is that it makes it easier to generate racket head speed with a throwing motion, especially when you want to also tag some topspin onto that motion?

    In my experience, the semi-western and eastern grip servers tend to smack it further out in front and usually with underspin rather than topspin.
     
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  11. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    The "Forehand Grip Serves" look ugly to me.

    Why reinvent the wheel when almost all the ATP and WTA players serve with continental grip?

    The beginners may start off with FH grip but they must switch to continental as their abilities improve.
     
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  12. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    OP, how good do you want to be?

    Continental is better because you can hit every type of serve better than with an Eastern Forehand grip, because the wrist is much more free to move. Thus allowing more spin, power, and accuracy.
    It is harder to learn and you can get to a pretty decent level with an Eastern Grip serve.
    Are you willing to go practice a ton of serves with a Continental grip and perhaps go to a pro to help you learn?
     
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  13. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    continental is better to learn as a beginner imo. it allows you to throw at the ball and create a good balance of topspin and pace for a consistent serve into the middle of the box with net clearance, i.e. you remove double faults from your game.

    i used to lose so many service games due to double faults when i was a novice as i was focused on having a flat serve (i refused to do dink serves). when i switched to a more topspin serve (easy to do with continental grip) i could suddenly play tennis and not lose 2 points a service game due to double faults. as my confidence grew due to the consistency of my serves i gradually added forearm pronation, hitting more through the ball and knee bend to give me more pace.
     
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  14. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Beginners stand squarely facing the court they are trying to serve into:
    [​IMG]
    They need an eastern grip so their racquet face will face into the court they are trying to serve into.



    Advanced servers serve with the side of their body facing the court they want to serve into.

    [​IMG]
    They want to launch the side of their body into the court, using their whole body like a giant muscle to power the serve.

    In order to do this, they have to use a continental grip so the racquet faces into the court as they launch the side of their body into the court on the serve.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    To WildVolley....
    Yes, underspin when I overswing my rightie serves using eForehand grips.
    But very controlled when the swing is moderate, and I get sidespin on the second serve just fine, but not topspin.
    However, if you play tennis THREE times a year TOTAL, why would you want to learn a conti grip right handed service grip?
    Oh, I can throw a football right handed about 35 yards without any warmup or practice. It's a wobbly mess, compared to my lefty throws.
    And trying to hit a ball is a whole lot harder than shadow swinging. However, a righties serve for me is a lefty toss, so it's super consistent first try and foreever.
     
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  16. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    3 times a year?! what are you on about?
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Oh, you didn't know?
    I'm a lefty.
    I play rightie in case my left arm get's injured, so yes, 3 days a year.
    In the past 25 years, I've broken my left collar bone twice, separated it a couple of times, and destroyed two fingers in my left side, so that is why I play right handed sometimes.
    My rightie forehand is my best overall shot, undermined by my dislocate prone shoulder and elbows that don't straighten, so serves suck.
     
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  18. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    oh ok. understood.
     
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  19. Rjtennis

    Rjtennis Hall of Fame

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    I could see using an eastern BH grip on the serve but the Eastern FH grip probably isn't the best for you in the long run.
     
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  20. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I never heard about this "always use a conti grip to serve" until reading it at TalkTennis. But I trust what the posters are saying about why the continental grip is better for serving. At my age I'm not gonna switch though. Whatever grip I use (probably some variation on an eastern, but definitely not a continental) works ok at my level and probably will continue to work ok for the best level that I might ever achieve with lots of practice.

    On the other hand, if you have the time and motivation to get lots better, then definitely gotta go with the continental.

    Some vids for your amusement (I'm the guy serving ... eastern, or whatever, not conti, grip):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2SlPsVFVQE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf0JSteV_Ks
     
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  21. dyldore

    dyldore Rookie

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    Many pros use an eastern grip. Federer has a slight "lean" towards eastern (1/4 eastern), and Nadal is virtually fully eastern. Raonic is fairly far eastern as well.
     
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  22. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Please qualify this. Do you mean eastern backhand or eastern forehand?

    My guess is many more players hold something closer to an eastern bh than an eastern fh.

    In all the videos I've seen, Federer's serve grip seems to be in a standard continental range. Do you have evidence he's holding an eastern bh grip?
     
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  23. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Not to gang up, but do you mean Eastern fh? There are no pros, including guys like Boris Becker, who use an E. fh grip that I'm aware of. If you know a pro using an E. fh grip could you show us picture or point to an article that supports this?

    Now E. bh, yes I think there are pros using this. I believe Edberg used this grip. Pretty sure the folks you mentioned are all continental, but show us some pictures if we're wrong.
     
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  24. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    Nadal's service Grip

    2006 photo if i'm not mistaken
    [​IMG]

    2012 Australian Open photo
    [​IMG]
     
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  25. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    Boris Becker's service grip was almost identical to the grip Tony Trabert used for his forehand ground strokes in the 1950s. At the time, Tony Trabert was said to have a eastern-gripped forehand. In the early 1970s, a great many players claimed to serve using an eastern backhand grip. Billie Jean King, for example, claimed she hit every shot except the forehand ground stroke using an eastern backhand grip -- including the forehand volley (no, it was really a continental grip).

    Basically, whatever grips most pros were using, the tennis writers called eastern -- because everybody knew that you couldn't be any good unless you used eastern grips.
     
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  26. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    First, just for clarity, let's define the grips. An E. fh grip has the index knuckle on the third bevel. A continental grip has it on the second bevel. An E. bh grip has it one the first bevel.

    It is my understanding, though I don't know this as a fact, that these definitions have changed somewhat through the years. Your description King's fh volley grip would support this because I'd seriously challenge anyone to hit a fh volley with an E. bh grip (index knuckle on bevel one). However if her definitions were shifted one bevel over from the current definitions then that would make sense, and what she's calling an E. bh grip would now be called a continental.

    I am using the definitions that I described in the first paragraph.

    I've looked at Becker's grip on various videos because it does kind of look like an E. fh grip. However when I looked closely it's continental, slightly shaded to the E. fh side, but still continental. I have never seen a picture of Becker serving with a true E. fh grip.
     
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  27. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Very confusing. What do you mean by eastern grip?
     
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  28. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I love serving with a shade towards eastern BH grip, just off conti. Lots of bite on the ball with minimal effort.

    -Fuji
     
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  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    and the reverse spin serve is done with a strong SW grip, almost W, so a right hander's serve breaks off to the left.......
    Use what works for you.
     
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  30. dyldore

    dyldore Rookie

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    I was never taught much about eastern grips but I think I am referring to an eastern backhand. It is closer to continental, right? Most of the pros seem to lean just a little bit eastern.
     
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  31. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    If bevel 1 is the bevel on top that the frame runs from, then the index knuckle on that bevel is today called eastern bh, which is a very common grip for 1hbh drives.

    The eastern fh grip, on the other hand, has the index knuckle on bevel 3 as you count clockwise from bevel 1 (at least for a right-hander). That's a grip that you see a lot of beginners use to hit a serve. It tends to encourage the waiter's tray position and slapping into the ball.

    Index knuckle somewhere on bevel 2 is continental.
     
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