Struggling to choose a grip and stick with it

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Pezerinno, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    Hey everyone,

    I'm hoping you guys and gals can offer some advice.

    I have been playing tennis for nearly 3 years but am still struggling to decide what grip to use on my forehand.

    When I use a semi-western to western grip I can hit a lot of top spin which allows me much larger margin for error (both net clearance and baseline depth). Naturally I have to hit quite far in front which is fine when warming up etc however problems arise when playing properly. I just don't seem to have the time to set up the shot correctly.

    I still manage to generate fairly decent spin with an eastern grip but the ball trajectory is far lower. When trading heavy forehands with an opponent I sometimes struggle to keep the ball in play and under control.

    I feel I really need to make my mind up on which grip to use so I can progress further as switching between them will surely hold me back. My coach feels I should just stick with the eastern but I do wonder if what is partly because he plays with an eastern grip. One thing I will say, switching from forehand to backhand with an eastern grip is easier as I have a near continental right hand (DHBH) grip.

    Is there something more fundamental I should be looking at or is it just a case of practise practise practise? Did anyone go through a similar issue?

    Thanks for any advice in advance (long time reader, first time poster).
     
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  2. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Use an E shifted down to a SW - kind of a hybrid between E and SW. This is the grip used by Federer and Del Potro and I think it really solid. It is good on lows balls which the SW or W is not and it is also good on high balls up to about eye high. On high balls, get a little further way.

    I am not a fan of true SW to W grips. I don't think they are good for low balls and you see a lot of low balls in rec tennis. And, the switch to the BH or volley grip is big. The E/SW hybrid I advocate puts a lot of hand behind the stroke so it is a stable grip.
     
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  3. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    I second this, it's an awesome grip and gives you best of both worlds. Very versatile yet deadly if used with caution. Also good for beginners for the reason in bold
     
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  4. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Yes, in between Eastern and SW is just a great grip. You can't go wrong with that one I guess.
     
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  5. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    Thanks for the replies guys although I still struggle with hitting early enough / out in front enough.

    I watch the pro's hit from behind the court and they seem to have so much time. I guess footwork plays a crucial role and it is something I need to improve.

    I have been told my timing is very good and I often rely on it too much i.e half volleying at the base line etc.
     
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  6. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    Sorry just to add, I assume it is frowned upon to keep switching between grips? Presumably one should decide on a grip and try to master the correct technique for said grip? Thanks.
     
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  7. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    Does one feel more "natural" than the other?

    I gravitated towards EFH quickly, and later, I got curious with the SW, so I tried it for a lesson with my coach (whom I trusted implicitly on every aspect of my strokes and game) and his verdict was - leave SW alone, it does not suit you. So I did, and its much easier to focus on your game having decided on a grip and just doing it.

    I play with guys who use SW and W and I have to say, I don't see any of them hitting with more topspin than me. Meaning the EFH is not a limiting stroke, it is how effectively you use ANY grip. I see many guys using SW and W grips and just cannot use them properly - what is more important is choosing a grip that you can focus on and work hard at it to make it the best.

    So I would advise, as someone who has been playing not that long (less than 3 years) pick a grip you are comfortable with (EFH or SW or inbetween) and then focus on that, those are all good grips. Take the advice of your coach, depends how much you trust him.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
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  8. vicp

    vicp New User

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    Hi Pezerinno,

    I struggled with the grip issue for many years, trying to change from one to the other or tweaks in between. The trouble is that the typical way of describing grips by placing index base knuckles and/or heel pads in certain positions does not work very well (or is obsolete as the link below suggests) and can vary quite a bit individually as to what works.

    In any case read this: http://corfutennis.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/john-yandell-versus-roger-federer-by-robert-firlus/

    This method uses the ring finger (the 3rd of 4 fingers - the one next to the pinkie) and the thumb as the "dominant" fingers in a grip - the others just go for the ride. For the forehand, you can just pick up the racquet from a table or the ground (many people just do this and it usually winds up with a SW-type grip) - have the fleshy middle part (middle phalanx) of the ring finger reach and wrap around bevel 7 (the wider bevel on the other side of your palm or the bottom bevel of a racquet lying on the ground) pulling the grip into the palm. The thumb base then just presses and wraps around bevel 1 (top bevel with racquet on edge). You can grip the racquet with just these 2 fingers (you should not hold it tight). The other fingers just go for the ride, provide extra support when needed, and simply rest where it is natural for the individual. For my forehand, I also let the ring finger settle down in junction of the buttcap and grip with the pinkie around the edge of the buttcap or end of racquet. The hand/palm extends over the buttcap - the heel pad (not necessarily the fingers) is off the end of the racquet. If I need or want to (not very often) choke up, I can and the ring finger/thumb positioning is the same. I do the same for my one-handed backhand except my ring finger wraps around bevel 5 (bottom bevel with racquet on edge) pulling the grip into my palm again.

    This coupled with a smaller grip size (used to use and actually measure out by ring finger to middle palm grease 4 5/8 - L5) - now use 4 3/8 - gives me racquet feel and control that I have never had in over 30 years of playing. The grips now change seamlessly - never have to think about it and am able to change face angles just about subconsciously.

    Try it - you may like it!
     
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  9. fuzzfactory

    fuzzfactory Rookie

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    I too use the hybrid strong eastern/SW Fed grip. It does hit flatter but just keep in mind to keep your wrist and forearm very loose so you can still have the wiper follow-thru. This allows you to add a lot of spin and thus be able to hit "up" at the ball a bit, giving you more wiggle room in net clearance
     
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  10. Korso

    Korso Semi-Pro

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    Sounds like your footwork is failing more than your grip. There are tons of exercises that can help with footwork. Jump ropping is one example.
    Reacting to the ball late might be an issue as well. Try to focus on getting into position when the ball leaves your opponents racket and not after it has crossed over the net.
     
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  11. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I guess I would say the eastern feels more natural but I think that is how I first picked up a racquet. I think my fear is I will get to a stage where I wished I could constantly hit high net clearance shots which I don't feel I can do adequately with an eastern grip.

    I will probably try and keep my grip as an eastern and hopefully other parts of my game will improve like footwork etc. I also think I don't bend my knees enough when playing (I'm tall so feel this would help my tennis).

    Interesting about the grip size by the way. I use a 4 5/8 size as I have large hands but maybe I should try a smaller one.

    Anyway thanks for the advice.
     
    #11
  12. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    ^ Ideally you should be able to get decent net clearance with an eastern grip and not hit long - the key in that is to put a larger % of your swing effort into spinning the ball, compressing the ball so that the ball's range is more limited to the confines of the court. Also contact is made slightly later, more to your side than more extreme grips, especially if you want to put topspin on the ball.
    Can't really tell what the problem might be for you personally but if you're getting markedly less net clearance with the eastern you're probably hitting too flat too often, which can happen if your spacing or swing path isn't optimal.
     
    #12
  13. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I don't think you need to get too worried about going down a wrong road with a certain grip for your forehand. It's likely that your grip position will evolve slightly throughout your entire tennis "career". Changing it a little bit essentially demands a slightly different contact point and swing path. If you think about it though, you're probably already doing something like that when you go from hitting a knee-high forehand to hitting a ball that's up around your shoulders.

    I can't be sure about that's going on with your swing technique, but the problem you're describing with setup troubles during point play is definitely about what's happening before you swing the racquet. You'll want to improve that regardless of which sort of grip or stroke style you use with your forehand.

    You can already hit a smooth stroke (from the sound of things) when the ball doesn't come at you too fast, so now you need to develop the footwork and setup habits that you'll need as you get better (and the ball starts coming faster). These fundamentals include routinely split-stepping and using a more aggressive unit turn (turn of your shoulders) every time the ball is struck at the other end of the court. As the unit turn happens, you also want to burst toward the spot where you'll be swinging with a very deliberate first step.

    Learning to rush this first move to the ball will give you more time more often to execute a smooth stroke. If you exaggerate this rushed setup for a while on the practice courts, it should become your "new normal". When it rewards you with plenty of time to hit a better stroke, you'll readily do it without having to pay much attention to your feet.

    One other thing you can check while you're on the practice courts is how you time your forehand stroke. Lots of players will unconsciously wait to get it going until the ball just about lands on their own side of the court. This is easy to get away with when the incoming ball is slow and easy, but when the heat turns up, it's easy to get caught swinging late. If your stroke is in sync with the bounce of the ball, break out of that and set up sooner.

    Again, learn to rush your setup so that you don't have to rush the stroke (backhand side, too). Always win the race to the hitting area whenever you can.
     
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  14. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    All great advice - thanks guys - I will try to put this into practise. I would love to get a video up, mainly to see how I actually hit it. When I play it feels like I hit nicely but I have a horrible feeling a video may say otherwise!
     
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  15. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    Oh and I'll stick with the eastern for now (or maybe extreme eastern - it does vary a little).
     
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  16. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno New User

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    I managed to get some video recorded of my forehand and backhand last night. It was only from drop feeds but my take back is big, I knew I had a large swing but didn't realise it was that big (think Gonzales).

    My coach said it wasn't an issue and makes for quite a stylish stroke but obviously I could work on shortening it when stuck in a quick hitting rally.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Lots of good players hit with an open stance, facing the opponent, when rushed or facing a strong, fast moving incoming ball. This limits the amount of backswing, and keeps the racket relatively out to the side of the body, ready to come forwards.
    When they have more time, they turn their shoulders more for a longer backswing.
     
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  18. osutennis24

    osutennis24 Rookie

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    I've been playing for 14 years and I'm just now starting to try to change my grip. Been playing with an eastern forehand, and now since I've been playing against better players I've really started to realize I have a low marign of error for my shots since I hit it so flat.

    Been trying to go more SW and it has helped a lot, just got to get used to it and the grip change to BH
     
    #18
  19. deco0028

    deco0028 Rookie

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    Hi Vicp
    Do you have any pictures of this grip? I use what I think is a conventional eastern forehand grip, with 1st MCP joint(base of thumb knuckle) at junction of 1 and 2 o'clock, and middle phalanx of ring finger at between 6 and 7 o'clock. Palm pad is not off the buttcap though. I suspect I need to shift my entire grip closer to the end of the racquet for more of a whipping action, but I am concerned about stability on forehand strokes. Will have to try it out.
    Thanks
     
    #19
  20. 7zero

    7zero Rookie

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    interesting reading.. I have similar issue, I start rally with eastern grip and then after couple of strokes I found out (usually when dealing with low bounce ball or volley/half volley) that my grip gradually moved to more SW/W direction. So I am confused - is this my natural position or mistake? all other things with late swing and hitting not enough in front of the body are my chronical issues I am fighting with..
     
    #20

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