Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Oldracquet27, Jul 23, 2009.
How to get a loose grip. I tend to squeeze it.
wiggle your fingers between shots. some people rotate their grip between shots.
I am confused as heck about this grip business. I thought one was supposed to have a loose grip on serves, but otherwise a very stable wrist throughout the swing until after contact, and squeezing tightly right before and during impact.
Could someone explain exactly at what points during FH + BH swings the wrist is supposed to be loose and when firm? That would be a great help to me. Thanks!
Let's think about this another way...
...a "loose" grip isn't a bad way to think about it, exceptthat it kind of has a connotation that you don't have a lot of control over the racket/stroke. I think it's easier to compare "hard" and "soft" grips. A "hard" grip is basically a hammer grip...fingers together on the handle...where you've got the racket in a death grip. This *sort of* gives the illusion of control, because the wrist is firm. In fact, everything is firm. Go ahead, grab your racket in a forehand hammer grip and squeeze as hard as you can. You not only have a super firm grip on the racket, my guess is that your wrist is firmly locked and so are all your forearm muscles. This tends to lead to muscling or pushing the ball, which is not the way to gain control, pace, spin, placement, or anything else.
Let's contrast that with a "soft" grip, where the fingers are comfortably spread on the handle, and the grip is just firm enough to keep the racket from flying out of your hand. It goes without saying that your grip is totally worn out, your racket is probably headed for the nearest fence with a soft grip. With a soft grip, you can more easily direct the racket face, your wrist is also soft so that it can accelerate the racket face through the ball at impact to impart pace and topspin (which is how you get control), and your arm muscles are relaxed so they can fire through the stroke instead of working against themselves. A soft grip works for all strokes. Yes, I know...on the volley, you don't want to "wrist" the ball. Fine, a soft grip will enable you to better direct the racket face, and since your wrist is firm but not locked, you'll actually have less of a tendency to take a big swing at the ball.
How do you achieve a "soft" grip. I was hitting with one of my buddies last summer who used to coach for Peter Burwash. My pal took a look at my groundies and said they were good, but I tended to muscle them too much. The cure? Per what they used to espouse at Burwash's school, spread the grip, take the bottom two fingers off the handle, and hit a few balls that way. Try it, you'll like it...
I don't know... I'm still confused.
I just came across this in another thread (I've seen hundreds like these over the years):
How does that mesh with the notion of having a soft grip?
Plasma gives relatively awful advice. Take what he says with a grain of salt.
Not only is the death-grip detrimental to your game, as skiracer pointed out, but it is one of the causes of elbow injuries (tennis/golfer's elbow).
I dunno...some of it's just semantics. I don't disagree with the notion of a solid grip, and notice that he's saying the opposite is "held totally loosely." I said I didn't think "loose" was a good way to think about your grip, and to think about it in terms of hard and soft, see what I said previously. I also don't disagree that tennis requires muscles, lots of them. One of the principles of any athletic effort, however, is that for the muscles to fire effectively, they have to relax and then contract, which is what I was talking about with a soft grip.
It's probably one of those arguments that can go on forever. What matters to you is what you do with the whole discussion. What I'd recommend is two things:
(1) Go back and take a look at the overall footworks and mechanics of a stroke, where the forehand might be a good example. A grip that works is part of those mechanics, but there's more to it than just the grip. I see people who are struggling with a stroke, and sometimes they tend to focus on one aspect (grip, for example, or takeback) to the exclusion of all the elements of a clean stroke. Take a wholistic approach, there's no silver bullet.
(2) Second, go out and try the "take the bottom two fingers off the handle" exercise I recommended above. Ya like that? Fine, experiment with it some more. That didn't speak to you? There were some other good suggestions I've heard, such as making sure you take your hand off the racket and flex the fingers between points...
First off, if we are talking about serves, then you can practice holding the racquet just by your ring finger and little finger and let the other fingers ride along. (You will naturally tighten your grip as you start the acceleration phase of the stroke.)
However, be very careful. Holding a loose grip can cause a player to "re grip" in mid swing to a more eastern forehand grip, if indeed they first learned to serve with this less-than-effective grip.
On groundstrokes, once you have developed a reliable and desirable swing path, then a fluid, looseness in the arm, forearm and grip can be achieved by the same advice I gave on the serve. Experiment with different fingers holding tighter and other fingers relaxing.
Hope this is helpful even if it is about three years late in seeing!
I find this discussion really interesting. I see what you mean about the soft-yet-stable vs too-loose grip, and how it's not necessarily the same thing.
I think what you are saying is you are trying to KEEP a loose grip at contact and into followthrough.
The serve grip should be looser than all grips for your strokes.
For volleys, I am of the camp of achieving soft hands but a firm wrist.
For groundstrokes, you want the grip firm enough so the racquet head doesn't flop around but not too firm where you squeeze the handle and tighten.
Some players have a more firm grip than others but all should fall into the range of not losing control of the racquet head and not squeezing the handle. The exception is the serve where you want to acheive a whipping motion for the racquet.
The best way to develop the firmness you want without squeezing, is to hit balls that are slowly fed to you. This way you can relax, take your time, and get that looseness/firmness you want for you. From there you can increase the speed of the ball eventually working it into a rally, etc...
Real History of USA Tennis Instruction
Hi Bill, totally agree with you. Well stated about the grips and different pressures.
I'm doing a timeline of tennis instruction at www.moderntenniscoaches.com in the MTM Library if you would like to take a look and see if I need to add anything. I would love to get your feedback. It's an ongoing piece and gives an overview of who taught what, when, and where, and traces the whereabouts of you know who, that unorthodox Argentinean and I explain a lot of the details so that people know what really happened. I admire you for looking at the evidence and facts and realizing that there is a lot of revisionist history going on regarding who did what when, and where, even regarding Oscar, though his story never changes if you hear from him directly. Even I didn't know that after Oscar left Brazil, Guga was still traveling to the USA to be coached by Oscar when he played the top junior tournaments, not only staying with Oscar in the early 1990s, but helping Oscar put his self published book together in 1989 in Oscar's living room. Then Passos took him over to turn pro a couple years later. As you will see from the Real History of Tennis Instruction, that magazine had a hidden agenda, even ignoring System 5 for several years because it was promoted by Bollettieri. Chris Evert has done a great job moderning the magazine.
Remember that I told you last time we chatted that England was converting all of David Lloyd's clubs to Oscar's method through an MTM certification process. Well, since that time, the LTA is even granting certification points for all coaches trained in Oscar's MTM. This just appeared in the August '09 issue of Tennis Life-UK. http://www.tennisteacher.com/UK-News.htm
Lol, i remember one time i was hitting a forehand and the racket slipped out of my hand, and went crashing into the side fence .
Anyways i agree, spread your fingers out and keep your arm and wrist loose. Just shadow swing a couple times to make sure your racket won't slip off, and your arm feels loose and comfortable.
Ok, had to chime in here. I have been teaching this for years, and you can watch any pro that generates head speed the "secret" to power. During the windup, it is loose, very loose, like a serve loose. Then, at contact, yes, as tight as you feel it takes to control your racket. I then would say, "loose again", after the contact, which only takes a couple milliseconds for the follow through. However, my buddy asked another pro, to POWER the wrist through contact! And, yes, it works! I call it, the "turbo button". Still only figured this out a couple weeks ago, and, still use basically my control forehand and backhand under pressure. But will continue to practice when and where(might be all the time) to utilize this new(to me) stroke. Again, not to confuse, the loop part of the swing should always be loose, and you will gain a much drier racket and hand, as this is basically air drying your grip every time. And, this will also eliminate any tennis elbow issues, for the people who grip their racket like a death grip for the hour or so they play.
Please dont use your wrist to "turbo" through the shot! My god, now we will get a bunch of people running out there and doing different things and increasing their chance to get injured. It is very difficult to time your "wrist" in the shot.
And people do not need to think about being real real loose, tightening up, and then loosening again. This will happen as you maintain enough pressure on the handle to manage the racquet head in a violent swing. Just keep your hand relaxed, maintain good technique, and "loose, tighten, loose" will happen.
I am inclined to suggest Botox.
On the other hand, we have a kind of chicken/egg situation, here that goes something like-- to have a great stroke you need a "loose" grip, but if your stroke is poor you will tend to grip too tightly, so first you need a great stroke or you will never loosen up that grip, so you must improve the stroke before you can loosen up, but you will never have agreat stroke unless you loosen thatgrip... and round and round.
So, you really need to practice the two things together- loosen up your grip, for example on the serve, (but you don't want to stangle your racket on groundstrokes, either).
Try holding the racket (for a serve) with just the thumb and your first two fingers to get a sense of controling the racket withoutforcing it. Concentrate on a smooth, effortless stroke- try it without the ball, first. Now, if you hit the ball poorly, you will get planty of bad feedback- but if the stroke is good, everything comes together, the timing is right, and you hit the ball in the center of the strings- you will notice a sort of effortless power. That is the feeling you are striving for.
You will be looking for something similar in the groundstroke, though your grip will tend to be a bit more firm- the stroke can be fast or slow, but with good weight/balance transfer and timing, you do not have to muscle the ball.
Separate names with a comma.