western grip in tennis

The evolution of tennis games gradually became hard-hitting baseline rallies, which made the western grip in tennis famous among millions of tennis players for its benefits. 

The advancement of tennis gear, such as the racket and strings, made the western a feasible choice. 

Learn more about the western forehand tennis grip in today’s article.

Going back to a hundred years ago, tennis players clung to the continental grip in matches. Games were slower. The rackets, tennis balls, and strings did not have the technological advancement we have today. 

As tennis gained popularity, players are using the western grip as it gives them the benefit of topspin in the match against the opponent. We have evolved away from the conservative continental way to the extreme western grip, of all things.

Today, the western grip is used by world-class athletes and recreational players. It’s popular for producing topspin in each swing.

western grip

How to Hold a Western Grip

The way a beginner naturally holds a tennis racket is far from the western grip. On the other hand, you can speed up the timeframe by using the handle of the racquet.

The racquet handle gives off an octagon’s shape, similar to a stop sign that sports eight sides. 

Put the palm side of the knuckle of your index finger against the fifth bevel. You may find this a little challenging at first. If so, hold the racquet with the semi-western grip or eastern grip at first.

Keep in mind there is no such thing as the right or wrong one to hold the racquet. It’s all about finding one that brings you comfort as you swing the racquet.

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Advantages of the Grip

advantage

Develops your heavy baseline game 

The western grip has high popularity among heavy hitters with big groundstrokes as it produces plenty of top spin on the court and over the net, although it is not for a beginner. 

It enables you to hit the ball aggressively within bounds to score a point against your opponents as one of its main benefits. It brushes over the ball to make it spin fast.   

Consistency 

A player that uses it can hit the ball a few over the net, and because of the topspin, it still falls into the tennis court. In other words, you can hit the ball with consistency over the net on the court, giving you the advantage against the opposing player. 

Springs Back Upward

Using the spin makes the ball jump or spring back upwards when the ball hits the ground, which is out of the optimal striking zone for groundstrokes, limiting the rivalling player’s power.

Bounces Waist-High 

Another benefit is that the ball typically bounces waist-high, which forces the opposing player to step into the ball, so they can catch the ball on the rise. Or it causes some to step away and catch it when it drops the ground, comprising their shots in the game.

No Hitting A Winner

The chances of your opponent hitting a winner in the game drastically lessen as they are forced to stand farther back. It only gives them a couple of angles that they can hit, and their shots are easier to return as well. It helps in keeping your opponent on defense.

Are There Drawbacks?

draw backs

Switching Grips Is Hard

When a player is changing grips, you may find it awkward. It may cause you to miss hitting slice shots or volleys as it needs you to considerably rotate your arm, which is one of the major drawbacks. 

It takes time to become comfortable in the switch, which requires more hours of practice. Athletes with high skill levels prefer using this one.

Not For Beginners 

The western grip indeed allows you to dominate the court and the game with your aggressive playing style at high levels. However, it’s not the type of grip designed for beginners. 

The grip may cause injuries to the ulnar area of the wrist for less experienced players (1).

Low Bouncing Balls 

Players who fancy using the western grip find it challenging to hit balls that give off an extremely low bounce during the game. Players who are hitting with the use of a western grip have to go underneath the tennis ball and over the top, which is no easy feat for many beginners.

Who Uses The Western Forehand Grip?

It is for experienced players, like Jack Sock, who are in the intermediate to advanced level. You need to have a sufficient skill set to win a match with the western grip in the game. 

Timing is essential when using the western forehand grip to make use of the grip’s full potential. What’s more, it causes wrist injuries for less experienced players as it is difficult to switch in the middle of a fast-paced game. 

If you have just started out playing tennis, it’s best to avoid using this grip until you have garnered enough experience.

FAQS

Experienced tennis players prefer using the western forehand grip as it gives them the ability to generate excellent topspin in their swings.

The most common tennis grip is the continental grip. Athletes use it because it gives them an explosive and versatile shot with lesser stress on their arms. 

The continental grip is the go-to option for volleying as it delivers underspin and control.

Roger Federer uses an eastern backhand grip, which is known as the standard backhand grip. Learn more about Federer and the racquet string tensions he uses here. 

The semi-western grip is where you put the palm side of your knuckle’s index finger against the racket’s fourth bevel for right-handed athletes and sixth for left-handed athletes.

Our Final Thoughts On Using the Western Forehand Grip

In the end, it is the best option for players who are aggressive baseline hard hitters who like to have a lot of spin in their swings. However, one of the drawbacks is that it is only for experienced players who can use the grip effectively without risking an injury. 

It takes time before one can master the western forehand grip, but it’s definitely worth the effort. The western forehand grip can make your opponent miss opportunities, and it allows you to keep them playing on defense with your topspin.

References:

  1. https://theconversation.com/get-a-grip-the-twist-in-the-wrist-that-can-ruin-tennis-careers-90318

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