Tennis Grips | Types of Grips Explained

Different Types of Tennis Grips And How To Chose The Right Ones For Your Playstyle.

Along with skills, mental state, and equipment, tennis grips have always been a major factor in a player's development. Many think there is only one way a tennis racket can be held. In fact, there are many effective ways you can hold it. In this article, we'll show you the pros and cons of each one, as well as which ones to avoid to enhance your gameplay and not injure yourself.

Tennis Grips | Types of Grips Explained

Forehand Grips

Forehand tennis grips have the most variety, and each one can serve you differently on the court. As you can see on the graph below, each side of the racket's grip (bevels) is numbered and each number is associated with a different grip. We have the Continental, the Eastern, the Semi-Western, and the Western grip.

How to Hold a Tennis Racket

To properly hold a tennis racket the index knuckle of your dominant, hitting hand must be on the preferred bevel of the racket's grip. Make sure to always hold the tennis racket from its lowest point.

Continental Grip

To be described most simply - the continental grip is the most conservative and least "extreme" one out of all forehand tennis grips. This is because, in the past, tennis rackets were not as developed as they are today and the variety was almost minimal. Also, it didn't matter how you gripped the racket, as there was not much diversity in the model of the racket.

Instead, players held their rackets most safely and conveniently (in which the continental grip certainly wins). However, with the increasing use of topspin nowadays, this way of gripping the racket is less and less common, especially among the best players on the tour. For beginners, this is definitely the best tennis grip to start. 

  • Easier to hit low-bouncing balls
  • Almost no grip change
  • Easier for beginners

  • Hard to hit topspin balls
  • Lower power compared to other tennis grips

Eastern Grip

According to several sources, this approach was used the most in the 80s and 90s, but gradually it also started to disappear, especially among top-level players. At the end of the last century, particularly effective was the serve-and-volley tactic and the best grip to perform it was exactly the eastern grip.

This brings us to the next fact about this approach - the eastern grip is best suited for playing on fast-court surfaces (grass or outdoor hard). However, the eastern grip can allow you to hit shots with high topspin, but if you rely on topspin a lot, it might not be the right choice for you.

  • Perfect for serve-and-volley tactic
  • Good for fast-court surfaces
  • Easy for beginners

  • Not good for topspin players (still better than continental grip)
  • Not recommended for baseline players

Semi-Western Grip

The semi-western grip is for sure the most used nowadays. This grip is so "popular" these days because it is the most convenient one. Using it, you can easily perform shots with higher topspin and quickly change the grip in your hand, preparing for your next stroke.

Also, this grip is probably the best that can be used at the moment, because it is neither conservative nor too extreme, as the western grip for example. And not to forget - if you're aiming to be a good baseliner, this is certainly your right choice. Some of the best baseliners currently, and perhaps in history, use the semi-western grip – like Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev for example. 

  • Most convenient grip right now
  • Excellent topspin
  • Quick grip change

  • Not that effective near the net

Western grip

The Western grip is the last of all forehand grips (except Hawaiian, which has almost no usage nowadays) and certainly the most extreme one. By hitting the ball using this grip, the ball spin can reach incredible heights - over 3,500 rpm (rotations per second). However, many experts say that the wrist is not in a natural position with this grip and injuries are much more common.

Another big disadvantage is that beginners often need a lot of time to get used to it. 
On the other hand, players who are good on clay can achieve excellent results using this grip, as it is most effective on this surface. As we know, the clay surface is the slowest one and the ball bounces higher on it. 

  • The best for clay courts
  • Effective for high-bouncing balls
  • The best for topspin players

  • Increased possibility of injury
  • Ineffective for grass surfaces
  • Difficult for beginners

Backhand Grips

Many times, the backhand is much more important than the forehand in tennis, as there are basically two techniques for executing it - one-handed and two-handed. Each of the two techniques can contribute differently on the court. The Two-Handed backhand gives more power and is much more effective from the baseline, while the One-Handed backhand gives you more flexibility, allows you to get to difficult balls, and is also more effective on the net. 

Two-handed Backhand

Statistically speaking, the two-handed backhand is far more popular than the one-handed. About 90% of the players in the ATP tour and more than 98% in the WTA tour use this technique. Its main advantages are the power and efficiency from the baseline.

The two-handed backhand is also easier to control and, especially on return, you have more power to send a difficult ball into the opponent's court - something that is much harder to achieve with one-handed. Let's not forget the fact that among beginners, the two-handed is much easier to master.

  • More power
  • More control
  • Gives more aggressiveness from the baseline
  • Easier for beginners

  • Harder to catch balls that are far out of the player's reach
  • Slower in grip changing (for example in moments when a slice is needed)

One-handed Backhand

Despite the huge superiority in terms of the use of the one-handed backhand versus the two-handed, the more beautiful and enjoyable to watch will always remain the one-handed backhand. In terms of its effectiveness on the court, however, it has some pros such as better topspin due to more explosiveness and added reach, but overall, the two-handed is used by more players for a reason. 

However, it is a fact that one of the greatest legends of the game, Roger Federer, used to play backhand with one hand, so if a player is confident enough that he can master the control and execute a good backhand stroke using this approach, he/she is free to go and succeed. 

  • Bigger reach in catching longer balls
  • Added topspin
  • More effective on the net
  • Quicker grip change

  • Less control
  • Harder to master
  • Higher chance of wrist injuries

Serve, Volley, Slice – One answer: Continental Grip

We have already said in the text that the continental grip is barely used in the forehand position, as almost no topspin is involved with it. Most often, hitting with the continental grip results in so-called "flat shots" (shots without rotational motion). 

As for the other important strokes in tennis, such as the serve, volley, and slice, the Continental grip is usually the only option. That's why it's very important to master the skill of changing grips quickly in the rally. 

How to choose a grip for your playstyle:

The best grip for you will depend on your playing style, strengths, and weaknesses. For example, if you are a more aggressive player who likes to hit hard and flat shots, the Eastern Forehand grip may be a good choice. On the other hand, if you are a more defensive player who prioritizes control and consistency, the semi-Western forehand grip may be a better fit.


As we said, tennis grips are one of the most fundamental factors for a successful tennis player. We've seen that each of the grips has its pros and cons and everything comes down to the individual choice of every tennis player.