Saturday, September 29, 2012


A few decades ago coaches made a big deal about the grips a player used.  The first step in any lesson would usually revolve around learning the correct grip.  Back then the grip was god.

The function of the grip for beginners and intermediate level players is primarily to provide strength and security between the hand and racquet. For advanced players the primary job of the grip is to allow the racquet-head to perform its purpose. This article deals with eliminating the contamination that can occur when a faulty grip doesn’t allow the racquet-head to perform its desired task.

If a certain forehand grip doesn’t allow the racquet-head to hit a high bouncing ball cleanly, that player has a weakness that can be exploited by their opponent. He/she must find a new grip position or find a technique that helps them adapt to high balls on the fore-hand better.

Often tactics that help you beat an opponent are based on  an opponents inferior grips that fail to adapt to speeds and heights. Extreme western grips have difficulty with low balls. Continental grips have trouble hitting high balls cleanly.

If the racquet-head can’t pass through the contact zone for an appropriate length, contamination will occur. The contact zone can be affected either by the racquet-head angle being incorrect or the contact zone being too short. This contamination can be caused by poor technique, balance or a faulty grip position.

If the overall goal is to eliminate contamination of the racquet-head caused by a faulty grip, the best method I have found is to use the non-racquet hand or opposite hand to change grips. If you are a right-handed player then consider using the left-hand to prepare the correct grip.

Use the finger-tips for greater sensitivity

Between strokes the opposite-hand dominates the racquet-hand

Here’s how to use the opposite hand…

  • Between strokes and during stroke preparation, the player’s awareness is fixed on the opposite-hand (not the racquet-hand).

  • Allow the racquet-hand to relax. Dominate with the opposite-hand!

  • Prepare the racquet-head with the opposite-hand, using it to take the racquet back (backswing) and set the correct angle of the racquet-face.

As you do this, allow the racquet-hand to change grips and into its natural position. If the ball is high, allow the opposite hand to rise to the height of the contact point, while allowing the racquet hand to change position. At every height the opposite hand will assist the racquet hand to find its natural grip position.

    Holding the racquet shaft is also acceptable as long as grips are
    changed and angles are set

  • Once the stroke is finished, re-establish the opposite-hand back up on the throat of the racquet.

By creating accurate grips and following these opposite-hand steps you will be able to positively affect the quality of the contact, probably the most important fundamental in tennis.  Any time you improve contact quality you also:

  • improve a players feel and control of the ball
  • Create more penetration at the other end
  • Become much more efficient with your stroke production

It is therefore well worth eliminating the source of the poor contact by “cleaning up” the grips through the use of the opposite-hand.

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