Tennis Grips explained

The grip is the fundamental to all shots. Grips dictate the the way a stroke will be produced. The grip affects:

The type of backswing.

Some players have a high loop on the backswing while others tend to take the racket straight back.

The swing pattern of the racket just prior to contact.

All players (when hitting topspin) should have a racket trajectory from low to high. However the grip dictates on what angle the racket must travel upwards to produce an effective shot.

The contact point of the racket with the ball in relation to the body.

Depending on the grip contact points change. Contact points can be in front of the body while others can be in line with the body.

The racket’s path length and direction in the follow through.

A rackets path after follow through can travel in many ways. The racket can finish across the body, over the left shoulder or even on the same side of the body. Once again the grip has a major influence on where the racket finishes.

The stance a player maintains throughout the shot.

Players can hit a tennis stroke with a closed stance, semi open stance, or open stance. The grip dictates what stance a player must use to be able to perform a stroke effectively.

Note – It is important to discuss the above points with a trained club professional. The professional will be able to guide you, in what grip best suits your style of play.

The basic shots of Tennis

Tennis has 6 different shots – with 3 major grips used:

FOREHAND – Eastern (BLUE LINE), Semi–Western (GREEN LINE)
SINGLE HANDED BACKHAND – Continental (RED LINE), Semi-Western Backhand (BLACK LINE)
SERVE – Continental (RED LINE)
OVERHEAD – Continental (RED LINE)



The most common grip taught by tennis professionals to beginner tennis players, because it is the simplest grip to use and learn. The grip is also known as “ the shake hand grip.” This is because the grip is obtained by shaking hands with the tennis racket. The grip offers versatility on all surfaces.


  • Easy to learn for beginners.
  • Most comfortable for new players.
  • Generates power.
  • Ideal for waist high and low contact.
  • Small grip change required for volley and backhand shots.

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Difficult for above shoulder height contact.

Players who Use Eastern Forehand:

  • Roger Federer
  • Pat Rafter
  • Lindsay Davenport


The Semi-Western grip is the power, control and topspin grip preferred by many professional and club tennis players. All players feel relaxed with this grip as the racket fits comfortably into the palm of the hand. With this grip heavy spin can be imparted to the ball and yet the ball can still be driven through the court with great pace.


  • Greater margin for error over the net.
  • Spin and speed can be generated.
  • Generates power.
  • Shoulder high balls.
  • Contact allows for disguise of shots.

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Hard to apply slice or backspin.
  • Lower Balls.
  • Low volleys are difficult
  • Requires a greater grip change to backhand and volley grips

Players who Use Semi-Western Forehand:

  • Andre Agassi
  • Martina Hingis
  • Venus Williams


The grip used for the volley and overhead is commonly known as the Continental grip. A player holds the racket as if they were holding a hammer. This grip allows backspin to be imparted on the ball. The grip is the same for forehand volleys, backhand volleys and smashes. If you can get comfortable with the Continental grip, you’ll have an advantage in never having to remember to switch grips, especially in quick exchanges at the net, This grip is not natural and often takes a player a while to get the feel and control to feel confident. A player who wants to play tennis to the highest level, must master this grip.

Note: the continental grip has many other uses. It can be used to hit extremely low balls, returning big first serves and as a defensive groundstroke.


  • Under spin on volleys.
  • Greater range on motion in smash.
  • Increased control.
  • Drop shots.
  • Many different shots can be played.
  • Allows variation in shots.

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Uncomfortable when first used.
  • Lack of power and control initially.
  • Hard to generate topspin.

Players who Use Continental Grip for Volleys:

  • All players.


The Continental grip is used for the serve. Once again this grip is not natural for players to get a feel for but once they do there are many variations of spin that can be imparted on the ball. There are three common styles of serve:

  • Flat – 1st serve
  • Slice – 1st and 2nd serves
  • Kick – 1st and 2nd serves

All these styles of serves can be hit using this grip. Players often use the eastern forehand grip when initially learning to serve. The main problem with this is it limits a player’s ability to apply spin to the ball. The continental grip on serve is an essential grip for those wishing to excel in the game.


  • Increases control.
  • Allows for variations of spin.
  • Increased control.
  • Allows for greater range on wrist motion.
  • Increased power and racket head speed.

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Uncomfortable when first used.
  • Lack of power and control initially.

Players who Use Continental Grip for Serves:

  • All players.


The Continental grip is used for the slice backhand and most of the specialty shots such as drop shots and defensive lobs. Most people begin to play tennis by hitting an underspin backhand but tend to use the eastern forehand grip to do so. When players do this the hand is in a weaker position to support the racquet handle under the forces exerted by the stroke. Not only does this make the shot less effective but also it causes stress to muscles, which can result in injury. To hit an effective slice backhand and avoid injury it is important to change the grip to the continental.


  • Increases control.
  • Allows for variations of spin.
  • Increased strength.
  • Injury prevention.
  • Disguise in shots

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Uncomfortable when first used
  • Lack of power and control initially.

Players who Use Continental Grip for Slice Backhands:

  • All players.


This is the classic grip for those wishing to hit a single-handed backhand. The grip allows players the strength to produce topspin drive backhands with power.


  • Easy to generate power.
  • Easiest grip for beginners to use.
  • Topspin created with this grip.
  • Waist high contact.

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Takes practice in getting use to changing to grip.
  • Uncomfortable when first used.

Players who use Single Backhand Grip:

  • Roger Federer
  • Pete Sampras
  • Alicia Molik
  • Justine Henin-Hardene

DOUBLE HANDED BACKHAND GRIP – BLACK LINE (non-dominant hand) and RED LINE (dominant hand)

Players who find they do not have enough strength when hitting a single-handed backhand often choose to hit the shot with two hands. It is important to understand the role of the two hands. While there are many variations on the position of the two hands the most common position, for beginners, is the dominant hand is on the red line and the non-dominant hand is on the black line. The bottom hand plays a guiding role in the stroke while the top hand becomes more dominant and produces the power and spin.


  • Easier to generate power for younger and beginner players.
  • Adds disguise to shots.
  • Aids in creation of Topspin.
  • Waist high contact.

Challenges with the Grip:

  • Takes practice in changing grip.
  • Uncomfortable when first used.
  • Understanding the use of non-dominant side.

Players who use Double Handed Backhand Grip:

  • Williams sisters
  • Lleyton Hewitt
  • Andy Roddick
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Volley Assistance Guide



GripCoach also has a volley assistance guide to help players learn to make contact with the ball on the correct side of the racket for forehand and backhand volleys.

When players first start playing the game they often hit the forehand and backhand volley on the same side of the racket. Commonly known as the “Windscreen Wiper.”

GripCoach has installed an F (Forehand) and a B (Backhand) on both sides of the aid to help players master the volley and prevent the dreaded “Windscreen Wiper.”

How it Works

The volley technique requires a short movement of the racquet from the body, similar to that of a punch. In the early stages of learning to volley, a player would hold the racket in the position where contact with the ball was made.

After each shot a player can look at the racket and if correct contact has been made then they will see the F if a forehand volley was hit and a B if they have hit a backhand volley.

Players will quickly understand the importance of using both the sides of the racquet when volleying. Now the only time a player will use the windscreen wipers is when they are in a car.


Grip Coach Stickers
“A great time saving device and a significant teaching and coaching aid for Coaches.”Ross Pritchard, Accredited Coach, Melbourne Australia