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10isfreak 01-25-2013 03:21 PM

How about a more extreme grip for one handed backhands?
Henin, to my sense, has presented one of the most
treatening backhands of all time, men included. Her approach to
backhand hitting seems very suitable for our modern game. On
the men‘s side, Gasquet has always have the hang of hitting
extremely powerful strokes.

So, I was wondering. How do one handed players feel about this grip?
And is it a suitable grip for amateurs or the game in general?

Also, well, if you use it and have videos, I would like to hear it and see it.

LeeD 01-25-2013 03:46 PM

Why don't you try it and judge for yourself?
Me, it takes too much energy to always hit a topspin backhand, and while you can slice off the same grip, it needs to be taken very early, something which doesn't seem to happen on every ball during a match.
My best biting slices or hit very late with a conti grip shaded towards eastern FOREhand, so it's a hard slice taken late.
Quite the change to try to hit early with topspin, well out in front of yourself. Too much change in strikezone for my feeble mind to embrace.

10isfreak 01-25-2013 03:57 PM

Oh, but I am still young. Ahahah
I did change back to a nearly eastern grip on my forehand.
It annoyed me to have troubles hitting slower balls for practice
with my former full western. It was easy to hit hard, but hard to
give away a slower balls to help my girlfriend improve her game.

On the backhand, I am tired of hitting with two hands, but since I
always had troubles off that wing to generate spin and keep a slightly
closed face at contact, it seemed like an option.

As for the subject, I wanted to bring people to debate about the above.

One handed backhands are just not well covered online... lol

luvforty 01-25-2013 04:16 PM

better to post a video.... sounds like there maybe other issues.

BevelDevil 01-25-2013 04:27 PM

It's essential to use a "modern" grip of some type, from most rec up to pro.

I'm defining "modern" as where you hold the racket like a mountain bike handle, rather than a steak knife. That's enough for a massive improvement.

Bad grips are probably a major factor in the demise of the 1hbh.

So people need to be educated about the nature of grips, but this requires better terminology.

Current terminology is ambiguous and confusing, and the internet search results unfortunately promote the Eastern "steak knife" grip rather than the grip pros actually use. Unfortunately, even reputable sites like Fuzzy Yellow Balls makes this mistake.

Defining grip purely by index knuckle is ridiculous. Consider that Dimitrov's continental grip and Wawrinka's mild Eastern grip actually play more "extreme" than a rec player's Eastern Steak Knife grip.

And using an Extreme Eastern steak knife grip isn't much better. It's mostly about the heelpad. See the pics in this recent thread:

Index knuckle combined with heelpad positioning would be ideal, and I can't think of a more marketable workaround aside from replacing the heelpad with the little knuckle, which is easier to see.

So ultimately, this is a battle of definitions.

10isfreak 01-25-2013 05:42 PM

Well, when I talk about a grip, I talk about two references in the hand: index knuckle AND the heelpad.

For better precision, you can use terms like distal and proximal applying these terms to specific bones... that would be ideal for accuracy.

mikeler 01-25-2013 06:19 PM

Extreme 1 handed backhand grip like LeeD said requires you to hit it way out in front. If you are young and fast go for it. The topspin is intoxicating with it.

NLBwell 01-25-2013 06:37 PM

A western grip like Henin's is good for hitting topspin on shoulder-high balls. It requires excellent movement and good hand-eye. You must move well not only to keep the contact point way in front of you, but also have the adjustements for balls which are not in the optimal strike zone. There also isn't much margin for error in the swing with non-optimal balls.
I would never teach a new player an extreme grip like that, but if you have a specific reason for going with it, try it out.

10isfreak 01-25-2013 10:22 PM


Originally Posted by mikeler (Post 7165511)
Extreme 1 handed backhand grip like LeeD said requires you to hit it way out in front. If you are young and fast go for it. The topspin is intoxicating with it.

That‘s a slight exaggeration. One handers are typically struck only slightly forward of two handed backhands (that‘s from an actual study which compare 18 top juniors) and, at that point, your arm is mostly as far as it can get with an elbow extension and a 90 degrees angle between the handle and forearm... Henin doesn‘t look like she‘s taking it earlier than anyone else, nor does Gasquet.

As for the contact zone, it never was made sense to me. Of course, there‘s an optimal strike zone for every grip, but I was digging balls bellow my feet with a full western forehand and it wasn‘t problematic at all... I guess practice makes a big difference and, as pointed by many, the set up is crucial, but that‘s also true for any one handed backhand... or, even, dare I say, with any stroke.

10isfreak 01-25-2013 10:23 PM


Originally Posted by mikeler (Post 7165511)
Extreme 1 handed backhand grip like LeeD said requires you to hit it way out in front. If you are young and fast go for it. The topspin is intoxicating with it.

Ps wasn‘t it you who used a semi-western on his 1HBH?

BevelDevil 01-26-2013 01:52 PM

In this discussion there needs to be a reference point for an extreme grip hitting "way out in front."

Way out front compared to what? A 2hbh? Conventional wisdom says yes.

But this thread is about comparing a conventional 1hbh vs. an extreme 1hbh.

Therefore, we should compare the contact points of two these types of 1hbhs.

As it turns out, a switch from Eastern to Extreme Eastern (moving both knuckle and heel pad back by 0.5 bevels) will probably move the contact point by about 2 inches. Not much at all.

In fact, a bigger change is going from "steak knife" Eastern to a "modern" Eastern, which adds about 4-5 inches to the contact point. That's a significant difference, so this deserves some thought.

A "steak knife" has more lateral reach, is easier to flick, and can be easily hit without having to open the shoulders. Combined with a willingness to slice most balls above belly, this stroke can be part of a comfortable tennis style. It might be a reasonable choice for some casual players, older players or someone with a really good slice, etc.

Unfortunately, the steak knife Eastern is not good for even moderately high balls. So if a "steak knifer" wants to drive most his backhands, that means either:

1. He has to hit OTR consistently, which is tough to do; or
2. He has to constantly back up on medium-high balls (or stay back) and/or hit more defensive shots, which is ultimately more physically demanding than hitting with a modern grip from good position.

So in short, using a slightly stronger grip (whether we're talking knuckle or heel pad) shouldn't typically add that much overall physical demand, especially if he/she is already trying to slug it out from the baseline. And it may actually save work.

However, I could see how a big jump from, say, a Federer stoke to a Mauresmo stroke would probably add more work.

luvforty 01-26-2013 02:08 PM

i can never hit henin style...

1) have to bend knees for low balls... no can do.

2) there is no support at the bottom bevel other than the thumb.... that doesn't look like a strong position to me.... I'd have trouble dealing with emergency balls.

mikeler 01-26-2013 03:16 PM


Originally Posted by 10isfreak (Post 7165909)
Ps wasn‘t it you who used a semi-western on his 1HBH?

Back when I hit a 1 hander I used that grip most of the time. Injuries have forced me back to 2 handers. Let me restate that the optimal contact point is further in front.

boramiNYC 01-26-2013 03:38 PM

Almagro vs Wawrinka 2012 Aus Open

Even to the beginners, the optimal technique makes learning much easier and productive.

I recommend,

Grip-E bh (not 'steaknife' nor 'mountainbike', just in between)
Stance-closed and keep the hips and shoulder sideway before and right up to contact
Weigh transfer-back to front foot
Swing path-Almagro, Gaudio, Kuerten (prepare high with elbow up shoulder level and finish high and around the body not start low finish high; for high balls racquet head could be above hand at contact)
Wrist- firmly neutral at contact (neither extended nor flexed) and supinate forearm and extend wrist for finish; this firm but well controlled wrist work with the optimal swing path makes dealing with high balls easier and adds topspin; do not keep it locked extended but do practice locked at neutral

There is absolutely no need for more extreme grip because the wrist control can achieve that. E bh grip with neutral wrist will necessitate hitting out in front. And at contact the racquet and arm angle is way more than 90. more like 120 or so.

The Meat 01-26-2013 04:01 PM

Use this as a good reference for more topspin on the backhands, regardless of whether you use eastern backhand(Dimitrov) or slightly more extreme grip(Wawrinka).

They both hit with some serious topspin, its all about how you hit it and not the grip.

boramiNYC 01-26-2013 04:17 PM

I haven't seen anything that shows Wawrinka uses anything other than E bh grip. His front foot points more forward and wrist control and swing path are slightly different from most 1hbher's, but it's not grip.

10isfreak 01-27-2013 11:53 AM


Originally Posted by boramiNYC (Post 7168420)
There is absolutely no need for more extreme grip because the wrist control can achieve that.

This is not a very convincing point...

1-You want a slightly closed face at contact to get top spin;
2-Some people have trouble getting the right angle with milder grips.
3-The only extensive study I have access to suggest that there is no reason
to think, as common wisdom supports, that grips inherently affect topspin.

Furthermore, there are more than just one isolated case of extreme grip backhand on the pro tours of both genders. Henin is an obvious one... and she's a very telling example, actually. She's 5'-6'', barely reaching 125 pounds and hits that shot consistently.

A common problem for one handed backhands at the amateur level is their consistency. Part of that is an obvious consequence of the player's learning experience, but some of it might be using an unfit grip. Maybe they have troubles generating spin... If you hit a nice stroke, but can't find a safe rally depth, changing absolutely nothing but the angle of the racket at contact would make it a perfect shot.

I think that if amateurs were using a slightly less conservative grip on their one handed backhand, they'd be more easily capable of compensating for these issues. I do not intend to solve all problems with this... the argument I make is that it could solve a problem such as mine -- I can really crack backhands hard, I can rally with them a bit, but the distance is not safe enough and I have troubles getting the extra spin. It's not a ton more spin, but just as with my forehand before I improved it, this little extra is the difference between extensive control and approximate control.

I'll obviously try it this summer (I always thought it would make it hard for me to hit big, until recently) and I will be able to talk about it personally. As for the scientific support, we do have reasons to believe it might actually make some differences, as a matter of comfort and in specific cases. For instance, it can't turn bad swings into good ones and it won't turn a flat shot into a loopy one, but it can affect the spin/pace ratio of a clean stroke given personal habits.

boramiNYC 01-27-2013 12:23 PM

a lot of times rec players using 1hbh extend their wrist on contact as the result of locking the wrist from the prep. This opens up the racquet face at the contact. If you hold your racquet in normal E bh grip and address the contact point and make sure your wrist is not extended but either neutral or slightly flexed, then the racquet face will be closed. Once you put this angle in your muscle memory and practice you'll be able to hit as hard as you want and balls won't fly. And you'll find the neutral wrist can be much more firmer than the extended wrist.

Changing the grip toward more extreme due to racquet face angle instead of adjusting the correct wrist usage is not the best solution and will cause other problems down the road like dealing with low balls. Learning how to correctly use the wrist angle is a much better way.

Cheetah 01-27-2013 12:36 PM

People who don't have a good 1hbh form always talk about 'extreme' grips.

Most of the people mentioned here do not have extreme grips. They are on the conservative side. I define the grip by the knuckle and not the heel pad. These players have small grip sizes. Stan, fed, haas, youzhny, dimitrov all have conservative grips. The knuckle is on the top bevel and in most cases heading towards the first bevel. Youzhny's grip is almost continental. Their 'look' and spin come from wrist control and supination and swing path. A conservative grip allows you to 'whip' it more. Henin's grip is more extreme than avg because she was short. Find a good clear pic of these players and you'll see their knuckle is not on bevel 8 or even the edge. They are getting power from shoulder usage and the swing is more of a 'lift'. a lifting up of the arm. not a 'push' from the palm.

if you look at the wrist and top part of the forearm there is usually no wedge there. their wrist is pointed down (usually). there's a flat line between upper arm and the top of the wrist. they are pointing the wrist down to create the angle.

edit: I see Borami is saying the same thing. He is correct.

Cheetah 01-27-2013 01:02 PM

Here's a good image of almagro. You can tell he's pulling the butt to the ball using his shoulder. And you can see his knuckle is in a pretty conservative position.

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