Hammer grips vs pistol grip on the 1 hand backhand

Ripper

Hall of Fame
#1
Hammer grip vs pistol grip on the 1 hand backhand

First of all, let me explain. The hammer grip is the one that produces a more severe angle between the arm and the racquet. The pistol grip is the one that gives you more reach and helps you maintain the racquet more in line with the arm. The later is the standard for serving, for example.

I believe the vast majority of players use pistol grips for their forehands, because of the superior reach and leverage. However, I'm not sure what the 1 hand backhanders are using for their backhands.

A 1 hand backhanded player who intercepts the ball's flight path to hit his topspin backhand, will be more comfortable doing so with a pistol grip. Hitting the backhand like this could be better for down the line shots or high accuracy shots.

A 1 hand backhanded player who makes contact with the ball towards his left (for right handers) side, will be more comfortable doing so with a hammer grip. Hitting the backhand like this is better for cross court shots and severe angles.

Personally, I went from a pistol grip backhand to a hammer grip backhand. I get a lot more pace and spin this way. For the down the line shots, I just adjust my stance. I could be sacrificing a little accuracy, but not sure. The only times in which I feel uncomfortable with this is when I get jammed in. Under those situations, I compensate by bending the elbow a bit.

Anyway, I want to know if the pros (specially Federer, Gasquet and Ljubicic), like me, go with one or the other. Or do they use both, depending on the situation. Thanks.

Edit: Is there, even, a noticeable difference? It could be all in my head :p
 
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Kevo

Hall of Fame
#2
I would guess that most people with a 1HBH tend more toward the hammer grip if they use spin and more toward pistol if they hit it flat.
 
#3
A 1-handed backhand is MUCH more comfortable with neither. Yikes. I use a continental grip (the one you've referred to as pistol grip - I think) on serves and volleys, but that's all. Most players today do not use either a "pistol grip" or a "hammer grip" on forehands or backhands today.
 

Ripper

Hall of Fame
#4
A 1-handed backhand is MUCH more comfortable with neither. Yikes. I use a continental grip (the one you've referred to as pistol grip - I think) on serves and volleys, but that's all. Most players today do not use either a "pistol grip" or a "hammer grip" on forehands or backhands today.
You got it all wrong. I'm not talking about if it's a continental, an eastern or an extreme eastern. you can hold any of the grips in a hammer or pistol style.
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#5
kingdaddy,
if i understand ripper correctly, than he is referring to a "pistol grip" when the indexfinger is further away from the other ones (like on the trigger) and a "hammer grip" when the four fingers are together (like holding a hammer). usually, at least in europe, you also call the continental grip a hammer grip, so probably it's there wher kingdaddy has been mislead.
 
#6
I understand. I was confused by your post at first. I think with my one hander I use something somewhere in between... not quite as "pistol" as on my forehand, but not fully a "hammer" grip either.

Thanks for your explanation fgs.
 
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fgs

Hall of Fame
#8
jasoncho92,
it is not unusual to have more of a "hammer" grip on 1hbh since it would give you a little bit more stability in the wrist due to the angle of the racquet to hand at impact.
 
#12
Personally, I went from a pistol grip backhand to a hammer grip backhand. I get a lot more pace and spin this way.
This I think may be in your head. The pistol or hammer grip in and of itself won't cause a difference in pace or spin, assuming the swing is the same.
The wrist is fixed before, at, and just after contact. The only thing the hammer grip does is give the wrist slightly more stability as the fingers are bunched together holding the handle.

Anyway, I want to know if the pros (specially Federer, Gasquet and Ljubicic), like me, go with one or the other. Or do they use both, depending on the situation. Thanks.
Most Pro's are using pistol grip. All 3, Fed, Gasquet and Ljubo use pistol.
That pic above is not hammer. Doesn't really make much difference anyways. It's all about what you are comfortable with.
 
#14
I think hammer is when ur fingers are next to each other (refer to pic of federer) and pistol is when ur fingers are spaced out by the slightest bit (<1cm from each other)
 
#15
Hammer is when all fingers are together. Pistol is with the index finger out. At least that's my understand of it. And the picture of Federer is in between a hammer and a pistol, as I stated about my backhand grip (not that I'm comparing my backhand to his - his is obviously much much better).
 
#18
Hammer is when all fingers are together. Pistol is with the index finger out. At least that's my understand of it. And the picture of Federer is in between a hammer and a pistol, as I stated about my backhand grip (not that I'm comparing my backhand to his - his is obviously much much better).
Ding Ding Ding! That is it. That pic is a bad angle to see it from.
Check out Feds and Richie's takebacks. Pistol all the way lol



Ljubo is in btwn.
 
#20
Wow. I never noticed that index finger. That is a pistol grip for sure.

Interesting about the racquet faces there. Federer's racquet face (the one that hits the ball) is facing towards his opponent, where as Gasquet's is facing backward, as I imagine most do.

Ljubo's is in between the two.
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#21
i bet gascquet and ljubicic are going to hit a topspin or at least a drive backhand while fed is going for a slice on those pics.
there are some pics with fed's forehand where the indexfinger seems even further away than on these backhands.
 
#22
I think most 1hbh players would have their index fingers further away on forehands because it would be hard to do the same on the 1hbh because of the angle of the racquet at impact...
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#23
kingdaddy,
exactly that was what i wanted to point out, that you have better stability with "pistol" grip on forehand and more towards "hammer" grip on one handed backhand.
 
#24
i bet gascquet and ljubicic are going to hit a topspin or at least a drive backhand while fed is going for a slice on those pics.
there are some pics with fed's forehand where the indexfinger seems even further away than on these backhands.
I disagree. That looks exactly like Roger's preparation for a topspin backhand.
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#26
kingdaddy,
yes, you are right regarding that "hammer" grip - the fingers don't really stick together, i mean the indexfinger with the other three.

stormholloway,
we most probably will never know exactly - i was thinking of fed slicing because he has a more continental grip on this one as opposed to the very eastern grip in the first pick. but i wouldn't bet on it because things in photos depend so very much on the angle they were shot from that it is much too easy to get it wrong.
 
#27
I think it's deceptive because of the racquet face, the contacting side faces the net as opposed to Gasquet's shot. It looks a bit like one would prepare for a slice.

Nonetheless, the index finger sticking out baffles me. I'll give it a try and see what happens.
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#29
slazenger,
in this pic you definitely see him having a very clear eastern grip, while the other pic, where the racquetface is more towards the net (where i said that it could be a slice preparation) it seems to be more towards continental. but once again i say that i wouldn't bet on it because photos can be very misleading.
 
#30
Wow. I never noticed that index finger. That is a pistol grip for sure.

Interesting about the racquet faces there. Federer's racquet face (the one that hits the ball) is facing towards his opponent, where as Gasquet's is facing backward, as I imagine most do.

Ljubo's is in between the two.
Well Gasquet's grip is a more western than Feds and Ljubo which will close the racquet face more.

I guess the important thing is that at contact all are square with the ball
 
#31
Keep in mind it's not as if both pics are at the exact same points in his swing. Roger starts with his hitting face pointing towards the net. Then he sort of flips it right before he drops the racquet head to make contact.
 
#33
Well Gasquet's grip is a more western than Feds and Ljubo which will close the racquet face more.

I guess the important thing is that at contact all are square with the ball
True, but Sampras didn't prepare his backhand like that. I also see that Haas does a similar thing with his racquet facing forward until the last second.

I'm still most interested in the index fingers. What is the purpose of that sort of grip?
 
#34
slazenger,
in this pic you definitely see him having a very clear eastern grip, while the other pic, where the racquetface is more towards the net (where i said that it could be a slice preparation) it seems to be more towards continental. but once again i say that i wouldn't bet on it because photos can be very misleading.

It's not even so much the grip that makes me know he is hitting a topspin. It is the preparation. That is a topspin backhand prep. Not a slice.
 
#35
True, but Sampras didn't prepare his backhand like that. I also see that Haas does a similar thing with his racquet facing forward until the last second.

I'm still most interested in the index fingers. What is the purpose of that sort of grip?
Ppl who use the pistol config almost always have a bit of the heel of the palm below the butt of the racquet.
Like this.

(PS btw this is clearly a topspin BH prep but if you rotated this pic such that you were looking at Fed from front view, his racquet face would be open in this prep as well)

It just engenders a looser hold of the racquet and possibly a tiny way to get more racquet speed.
Problem is it can cause wristiness in your stroke if you don't know what you're doing.
 
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#36
See I don't have a problem with wristiness. I've been using wrist to impart more action since I switched to a one hander. Only recently did someone tell me that the wrist should remain firm.

I don't really see why. More loose, more action.
 
#38
Not playing against too much pace, though I admit when my opponent brings pace I find the wrist action to be hard to control. It can become erratic and inaccurate
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#39
stormholloway,
the wrist is not loose, there is a controlled wrist motion in the stroke but i don't know how to call it since this has been the subject of controversy in another thread. on the backhand it would be like pulling the racquet over the ball BUT assisted by arm pronation. that is not a loose wrist by any means in the sense of limp and "gravitational" as has been expressed incorrectly (in my opinion) in the other thread, but it is a very controlled action to impart mainly additional spin. it is difficult to coordinat though and usually teaching pros just start working on that after the player has passed a certain level of play. there are some nice videos on the usta website (not all of them!) - coaching - player development - video library. check that out.
 

Ripper

Hall of Fame
#40
Wow! Yesterday, when I last visited this forum, this thread was just a couple of posts long. Today, I was very pleasantly surprised when I came here again and discovered all the activity it has had. Thanks to everyone for your comments. The pics posted here prove that these guys do, indeed, hold their backhand grips like I do (at least, part of the time). I've tried to find pics like this, but, now, thanks to you, I know I was looking for the wrong photo angle. So, again, thanks!

One last thing, these terms "hammer grip" and "pistol grip" really suck, because both can lead you to think that you're refering to one style or the other. So, new terms need to be made up. What do you propose? How about "knuckles parallel to the handle" and "knuckles at an angle to the handle"?
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
#41
ripper,
it's a good proposal but it's hard to get into establishing terms that would later on be valid, understood and accepted by everyone. we had another thread when a wrist snap got a pronation, then an extension, then a supination, then a snap but not a snap as in basketball, then .....
 

habib

Professional
#43
From personal experience, I've found that the pistol grip is simply not stable enough on a one-handed backhand. This is in complete contradiction to the forehand, where the pistol grip is far more stable than a hammer grip, and reduces the amount of wrist you use. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that on a forehand, the hand is behind/below the racquet, providing plenty of support, whereas on the backhand it's generally on top of the racquet, so you need a bit more leverage and strength to keep it steady, making the pistol grip less-than-ideal. Even in all of those pictures, the hammer grip is relatively mild, and in images of contact or near-contact, it's far less pronounced than in the backswing.
 
#44
It also has to do with the position of the thumb on the handle. With the true hammer grip, the thumb is on the outside (above) the fingers, not between the first and second finger. When the thumb is above the fingers, there is the greatest stability.
 

Ripper

Hall of Fame
#45
From personal experience, I've found that the pistol grip is simply not stable enough on a one-handed backhand. This is in complete contradiction to the forehand, where the pistol grip is far more stable than a hammer grip, and reduces the amount of wrist you use. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that on a forehand, the hand is behind/below the racquet, providing plenty of support, whereas on the backhand it's generally on top of the racquet, so you need a bit more leverage and strength to keep it steady, making the pistol grip less-than-ideal. Even in all of those pictures, the hammer grip is relatively mild, and in images of contact or near-contact, it's far less pronounced than in the backswing.
I think I understand what you're saying. However, it's not really about the sense of stability. I should know, because I went from one to the other. Imo, it's about the sense of accuracy, as I already mentioned in the original post. One way of gripping the backhand let's you stand, practically, in the line of the flight path you intend to give to the ball. It's like when you're shooting a gun. If you shoot a gun while holding it to a side, instead of in front of you, you won't be able to aim as well. With all respect, I'll bet that's what you're really trying to describe. However, hitting a ball with a racquet is different to shooting a gun. If we can aim while hitting a forehand to one of our sides, we can aim by hitting a backhand to our other side. Of course, for most of us, everything we do with our forehand seems to be more difficult with a backhand. That's why people come up with solutions; 2 hand backhands, all slice backhands, inside out forehands and hammer/pistol grips (knuckles in line with the handle). However, I'm quite positive any accuracy I'm sacrificing is more than compensated by the extra pace and spin I get this way. My backhand is getting more and more lethal, as I practice this more. Anyway, it works for me.
 
#47
Personally, it depends on what shot I'm hitting. For topspin backhands, I use a full eastern with a hammer. For slices, I noticed that I go to pistol, and in doing so, move down to a modified eastern grip.
 
#48
I use hammer grip during exchanges at the baseline, but i use pistol for short or low balls, and for delicate passing shots. The pistol grip is also makes the transition to slice easier because u just have to rotate the racquet face slightly.
 

Ripper

Hall of Fame
#49
Just wondering. But you use a pistol grip for continental serve grip right?
As I said in one of my previous posts, I don't wnat to use the terms Hammer or Pistol anymore, because they're very confusing. For continental grip, as used when serving, I hold the grip with knuckles at an angle to the handle; in other words, in similar fashion to how I hold my forehand and backhand grips. If you hold it the other way, there will be a far too great angle between the arm and the racquet... Now that I think about it, I don't seem to, ever, hold any grips with knuckles in line with the handle, anymore. Anyway, everyone do whatever works better for each one of you.
 
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