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Tennis Grips Explained and Demonstrated

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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! 

Leave A Comment


  1. John July 5, 2015 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Ian- best explaination on grips I have ever seen! Thanks John

  2. Mario June 28, 2015 at 11:30 am - Reply

    as you are probably well aware tennis pros grip tutorials differ. You suggest focusing on the placement of the knuckle on a particular bevel, other pros suggest focusing on the placement of the "V" made by the thumb and Index finger, yet others focus on the placement of the heel of the hand. I suggest to you that all these tips are incomplete and hence confusing. For example, when I follow your instruction for the eastern forehand (knuckle of the hand on the third bevel), the feel and stability of the grip changes depending on where I place the heel of my hand (should it be placed on the third or the second bevel?). Depending on where I place the heel of the hand, the feel of the grip, and the tilt of the face of the racquet changes.
    As anybody that has take a course on calculus knows. Infinite lines pass through one point, but only one line passes through two points. So my suggestion to all tennis pros is that when teaching how to grip a racquet they need to indicate both where the knuckle and the heel of the hand should be placed. Thus, the alignment of the hand on the racquet now is fixed and leaves no room for confusion. Cheers.

  3. Kallol Mitra June 23, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I really liked your tennis lessons. simple, short and very effective!

  4. Marlon March 10, 2015 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    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.

  5. I malik February 6, 2015 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Best explanation ever for grips. Thank you !!

  6. Tp October 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm - Reply


    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,

  7. John Ward April 3, 2014 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Very Informative and helpful to my play

  8. Terry Fugate March 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    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!

  9. Ed B March 10, 2014 at 5:18 am - Reply

    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?

    • Brent March 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      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.

  10. puneet March 10, 2014 at 5:08 am - Reply

    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.

  11. Sang Hoon, LEE March 10, 2014 at 1:24 am - Reply

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

  12. Wil March 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm - Reply

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

  13. Peter March 7, 2014 at 1:36 am - Reply

    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

  14. nestor candava March 6, 2014 at 8:02 am - Reply

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

  15. schuster dan March 6, 2014 at 4:31 am - Reply


    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.



  16. John March 6, 2014 at 12:01 am - Reply

    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.

  17. Robert March 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Brent March 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      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!

  18. kathy March 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    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

  19. Bob C. March 5, 2014 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    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.

    • tomi March 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      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

  20. Brent March 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    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.

  21. Denbeigh March 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    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.

  22. tomi March 5, 2014 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    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.

  23. Ron March 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm - Reply


  24. eric March 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    good as usual

  25. jack March 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    when do you use the eastern backhand grip?


  26. Dennis Bryan March 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    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.

  27. Lou March 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    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.



  28. Michele Packard March 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    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