Your Master Grip

Unless you are from the Old School and play all shots with the Continental grip, you use the Continental for your backhand and some “more clockwise” grip for your forehand. But which grip do you use when waiting to return serve?

There are several schools of thought on this one…

1) Wait for return of serve with your stronger return of serve,
2) Use the grip where you think the server will be serving you,
3) Or, use what you feel is the most efficient.

If the server is really booming in hard serves – especially on a faster surface – which gives you minimal time to react, you probably have to guess the side and stand ready with that grip.

But since I play mostly on slower HarTru (and against seniors who don’t regularly overpower me), I choose to wait to return serve with my Continental/backhand grip.

Even though I will try to hit my forehand return of serve given the chance, I hold the racquet in my left hand at the throat and my right hand loosely in the backhand grip. This allows me to return backhand, if that is where a faster serve goes; or to quickly use the left hand to rotate the racquet to the semi-western forehand grip … so I can take a rip!

What do you do?

6 thoughts on “Your Master Grip

  1. I always wait with a forehand grip. Since I have a two-handed backhand, I automatically turn my racquet to the Continental grip on my dominent hand and a semi-Western grip on my non-dominant hand while taking the racquet back to hit a backhand. Also, if the serve was so fast to my backhand that I had no time to change grips, I could get the ball back better with my dominant hand in a semi-western grip on my backhand than trying to hit a forehand with a Continental grip.

  2. George – I use Eastern forehand, Eastern backhand, & Continental for volleys….I thought that was “old school”….But I always wait for everything in my forehand grip, because I have been doing it so long I can change from forehand grip to backhand grip much faster, and as I teach my beginners, I believe you hit ~75% of your shots in the match with your forehand…but of course, there are always exceptions, like I can “tell” it’s gonna go to my backhand because of circumstances or trends…etc..

  3. I use a variation on #2, i.e., it depends on how good the server is. If I am facing a very strong server, I anticipate his serve (on critical points) going to my weaker backhand, so I protect it by waiting in the backhand grip. If I am facing an average or weak server, I wait in a forehand grip so I am prepared to attack.

  4. On the same topic, it is a good idea to pay attention to how the returner is holding his/her racquet prior to serving.

  5. I’m with Jeff on this — wait to return with forehand grip. But then again, I’m Eastern forehand, one-handed backhand, California, pretty much total hardcourt experience.

    I was taught that it’s much easier to change from forehand to backhand grip, as it’s more natural to use non-racquet hand to help make that change. Also, if the serve is ultra-fast to the backhand, it’s not that hard to hit a chip backhand return with an Eastern forehand grip.

    Still, as George points out, clay has a different set of challenges-opportunities.
    – I will say, though, that noting the opponents’ return grip can have significant implications — incredibly helpful to pay attention to that.

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