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Get a Grip on your Game

Posted on May 01, 2017 in Seaside Tennis , Tracy Townsend , May–June 2017

One change can improve you game? Really? Yes, really. So how about making five changes? Can you get five times better? Maybe! How you hold the racket is one of the most basic and important aspects of your game. The problem is there is no one correct grip that creates every shot.

Beginners usually pick up the racket, swing it and get stuck with the grip they chose that first time. Depending on the success they have with that initial swing, their game forms and develops. That swing is one of your most important. Swings are hard to change, and every different swing should probably have a different grip for success.

Let’s talk about the basic grips. The continental grip is about as basic as it gets. Today’s modern game rarely ever uses this grip except for a serve and maybe an overhead or volley. Swinging volleys have changed that, too.

Other variations are eastern, western, semi-western and grips that don’t really even have a name. Grips are produced by shot selection, court position, choice of pace or power, choice of spin and any number of variables. If you ask me to show you my forehand grip, I have to ask you what spin you want me to hit at what pace from what court position. Complicated, right?

That is why I think you may get five times better if you are willing to work hard and adapt to grip changes. Players unwilling to change grips for various shots are limiting their ability to improve. Look on tour at the extreme grips players have to use to produce certain shots. Now is a great time to watch all the different players and the shots they produce. Really notice their preparation and the grip changes they make.

Here is what I think you should do, and this is what I have my students do when they come for a lesson. “Tweak” your grip a little bit, either way. And watch the outcome. Figure out how to the get the ball in the court in various ways with various spins. Do it consistently and watch how much you improve. It’s easier said than done, though. Grip changes are difficult and take a lot of practice and time to change and master.

Making five changes at once would most likely destroy your game. So I would never do that to anyone at one time. But if you are serious about getting better, come see me or one of my pros and let us help you make one good change. And then maybe another one another time. And somewhere down the line you might just be five times better than you are right now. See you on the courts.

Tracy Townsend is the Director of Tennis in Seaside. A resort tennis expert, his company 30A Tennis manages Seaside Tennis on behalf of Seaside Community Development Corp. You can reach him at or call (850) 231-2214. For news, events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook.

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