Written by Ian Westermann
Grips — 05 March 2014
Tennis Grips Explained and Demonstrated

Don’t feel badly if you ever get confused by all of the different tennis grips. There’s a ton of them!

Today’s video lesson is going to demonstrate each of the following grips:

  • Continental
  • Eastern Forehand
  • Semi-western
  • Full-Western
  • Eastern Backhand

Not only will I show you how to find each of those grips but I’ll give you a few thoughts on what each of them are best for as well.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below. Thanks for watching! 

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  1. Hi Ian , good video . I would thank you a lot if you do a video , showing how to hit a forehand with an eastern grip.

  2. Best explanation ever for grips. Thank you !!

  3. Hi,

    i highly appreciate these videos, started playing tennis again, and all those forehand , back hand, grip videos really helps.
    before this video, i though there was only one grip for forehand…:-)

    all the best,

  4. Very Informative and helpful to my play

  5. Ian,
    Great job explaining the different grips you made it very simple for everyone to understand. Some pros have to many checkpoints as far as the positioning of the hand on the racquet. The knuckle of the index finger is very easy to understand and makes it simple for everyone. I also enjoyed the Federer and Nadal grip sequence videos. I guess that just goes to show that even with an eastern forehand grip we should all be able to generate a little more topspin on our groundies. I would have thought that all of the men on the tour were using semi-western grips on their forehands since most of them get so much topspin. At any rate bravo for a job well done!

  6. Hey Ian thanks for the vid. Very clear and concise as usual.

    One problem I have is finding exactly the right grip during real play. Me, I hit a SW forehand and an Eastern backhand, veering slightly toward bevel 8 (ie quite extreme). These both work well for me because they allow me to hit the ball well out in front which makes it easier for my eyes to track the ball. However in a real rally when I switch from my FH to BH grip in real time I often don't rotate the racquet far enough and end up hitting my BH with something close to a Continental… and of course the ball flies straight into the back fence!! I sometimes have a similar issue when switching from the BH over to the FH. Is there any specific drill I can do to address this or is it simply a matter of being aware and hitting a ton'o'balls?

    • Ed, check out my reply to Robert's March 5 post. Would that work for you? The only two grips I use are the nearly identical SW grip for my forehand and one-handed backhand and a continental grip for slice, volleys, and serves.The change between the two is pretty simple.

  7. Hi,
    I use Eastern forehand Grip for forehands. Should I use a different grip for server. I kind of fine eastern forehand grip a little uncomfortable while serving.

  8. Thanks for the video which can remind me of a basic tip for grips.

  9. Great video and explanation. After playing for years, I now totally understand the various grips.

  10. Sorry to say but Federer does not use eastern grip but rather somewhere between eastern and semi-western. To proof my point take a look http://youtu.be/Wh6cJfrcQJY

  11. im a new tennis player thanks for a great tips on grips im a retired employee age 61 from the philippines

  12. hi

    regarding the grip I starte to play many years ago when top spin was still not so popular and used.

    Now I desided to learn top spin .

    for this I need to change my grip from continental to Estern .

    My insterctor does not like my idea of changing the grip after so many years.

    please advice.



  13. Will the video on two -handed backhand grip be out soon?
    Also could you make a in depth video on how to get more topspin? I have watched your mythbuster as well as your other video on topspin and was really curious as to what else I could do to generate more topspin.

  14. I use Continental for a variety of one hand backhand slices and flat drives, but I like to go a little beyond Eastern BH to roll the ball. Does anyone else do what I sometimes do — maybe in the heat of the moment roll the racket a tad too far so I am in Eastern BH position when I want to play a knifing slice (e.g., returning serve in deuce court) and instead just hit it into the net?

    • Robert, I’m not sure what you mean by “a little beyond Eastern BH,” but what you describe sounds like how I hit my one-handed topspin backhand. Ian showed two backhand grips: one with the index knuckle on bevel #1 and the other with it on bevel #2. I hit my TS backhand with the knuckle on what Ian would call bevel #8 and with the fingers closed down toward the butt cap. In other words, my index knuckle is on bevel #8, and my pinkie finger knuckle is on the ridge between bevels #8 and #1. It’s nearly the same grip as I use for my TS forehand (Ian’s semi-western FH grip) with the fingers spread more open than for my BH.

      The main reason I chose that BH grip was to avoid developing tennis elbow ever again. The grip forces me to hit the ball with my wrist extended (Google wrist extension) in order to hit in front with a slightly closed face. Hitting one-handed backhands with wrist flexion is a sure way to develop tennis elbow, particularly if you hit a little late. An extended wrist is much stronger. Also, some research I found showed that high level players hit one-handed backhands with neutral or extended wrists, and lower level players often hit with flexed wrists.

      I mentioned that my TS forehand and backhand grips are very similar except for how I spread my fingers. Because I strike the ball with the same side of the racquet for FH and BH, the grip similarity means that switching between FH and BH requires very little grip adjustment.

      Because of stroke differences, this may not work for you. But I’m able to hit heavy TS off of both sides with it. The only limitation I’ve found is hitting low balls in front of me, but that’s when switch to a continental grip to slice or chip those. And I haven’t had a hint of tennis elbow in nine years!

  15. I've been waiting for this video! thank you so much. Are there drills that I can do to learn to change from one grip to another quickly during a game?

    Thanks again

  16. Ian, I join the chorus of praise for another great instructional video: clear, concise, well made.

    In a future video, you many want to illustrate how choice of forehand groundstroke grip affects contact point.

    Using the continental grip allows you to take the ball only when you are sideways to the net, and you can meet the ball only when it is almost past you. It is the old-school grip from the McEnroe and Connors era, if I am not mistaken.

    The eastern forehand grip allows you to contact the ball when it is slightly in front of your body; the semiwestern grip when the ball is a bit further in front than that, and the full western grip dictates a contact point well in front of your body.

    • hey bob, try to cock the wrist at contact with any grip & you'll see that no matter what grip you use the contact point is more in front compared to the later contact point (further back) when your wrist is in a neutral position. if you ever used rafa's extreme sw grip you may have noticed that it's possible to scramble for balls (playing half volley groundstrokes) when they land even a bit behind you – the wrist is then curled somewhat inwards.
      also it's perfectly possible to hit open stance fh with continental and the torso parallel to the net. it's rarely done because the continental is not about power, it's rather about touch and precision, which in turn complies well with the neutral stance and a bit more closed torso at contact.
      give it a try & let me know how it works

  17. Good stuff as usual, Ian. A similar way of describing the grips uses the same numbering system for the eight facets of the handle. I first saw it on John Yandell's tennisplayer.net web site, which requires a subscription (free for USPTA members). I no longer subscribe, so I can't post a link. It uses a number for the index finger knuckle, as you do, but also a number for outside heel of the hand. So it would describe the eastern backhand as a 1-6 grip, if the knuckles line up along facet 1. The extreme variation is a 1-7 grip.

    I like your description just fine. Thanks for posting it.

  18. Hi! Great video, I was wondering how come you did not mention the semi- western single bh grip? I use this grip and and although it can be tough to drive the ball hard and flat its a great grip to generate top spin, and pros like Justine Henin and Gustavo Kuerten used the same grip to great effect.

  19. great video.
    angling the hand is a great idea even with the eastern backhand – offers better variety for the shot and for the angle between the torso and the racquet at contact.
    can't wait to see the spectrum of the double hander grips and their influence on extension, rotation & hand dominance.


  21. good as usual

  22. when do you use the eastern backhand grip?


  23. Until the last year, I used the Continental grip for everything. I've recently changed my forehand to the Eastern Grip, and my backhand to the Eastern backhand grip. I've found that this has given me significant topspin on both shots so I can hit with greater pace and angles and this is the single most important factor in improving my game.

  24. Ian, excellent video as usual. I have read and watched many instructional products re: the grip. This was up there with the best of them and a great refresher. Especially appreciated the comments/tips re: the angle of knuckles across the racquet, i.e. angled for continental and forehand, but straight (more like a fist) or only slightly angled for the backhand.



  25. Thanks, Ian, for the review. Funny….I've played tennis for 37 years (now 4.5) and the whole Western, Continental, Eastern 'thing' just clicked. :)
    Enjoy the Paribas.
    Bham AL