Welcome to my Simple Serve Tips series! In this series, we're getting up close and personal with the tennis serve. We all know that there are so many moving parts to the serve and it can be hard to get a handle on all of them. So, in this series, we're going to looking at the entire serve picture – every little bit of it and how each piece can be improved upon to make your serve a better, more reliable tool in your game. In this second episode, we're talking about how to hold the racket when you serve. Specifically, I'm going to tell you exactly what type of grip you should use when you serve. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
What Grip Do You Use On Your Serve?
How do you hold your racket when you serve? Are you using on Eastern forehand grip? A Continental grip? Do you not even know or care what grip you're using?
Definitely, when you first start playing tennis, the grip you use on your serve is the grip that gets the ball in. Since the purpose of the serve is to get the point going, you initially need to make sure that you have a serve that goes in the service box consistently. Because if you can't get your serve in, things like power and spin are pretty irrelevant.
Using The Continental Grip On Your Serve
But once you do develop a pretty consistent serve, adding more power and spin to that serve is definitely worth working on. And a great way to add power and spin to your serve is to use the Continental grip. In fact, for the vast majority of tennis players, the best grip for serving is the Continental grip.
So, first, let's talk about exactly what the Continental grip is and how you get it. Now, I know that for many of you, any discussion of grips is pretty basic stuff and you are way beyond that. But for a lot of players, no one spends much time talking about what grip they are using for their serve and how and why they might want to change it. This was definitely true for me when I first took up tennis. I was playing for several years before my pro recommended that I change my grip on my serve to a Continental grip. It made a big difference in my serving and I wish someone would have brought it up with me a lot earlier. And we are looking at everything involving the serve in this Simple Serve Tips series, I think talking about something as basic as the grip is important.
How To Get The Continental Grip
Okay, so how do you hold your racket using the Continental grip? It might help you to know that the Continental grip is occasionally called the “hammer grip” because you hold the racket just like you would hold a hammer to pound in a nail. When holding the racket with the Continental grip, the face of the racket will be straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground. You can get a better idea of what the grip looks like in the photo below. As the photo shows, to get the Continental grip, you just do this:
- Hold the handle of your racket so the knuckle on your index finger that is closest to the palm of your hand is on Bevel 2 for righties(see the photo below). Lefties will put this knuckle on Bevel 8.
- The heel of your hand should just about rest on Bevel 2 at the end of the racket. That will be Bevel 8 for lefties
- The “V” formed by your thumb and index finger should be on top of the racket, on Bevel 1.
If you want to download a PDF version of the diagram to look at more closely, just click here: Continental Grip Diagram.
What The Continental Grip Can Do For Your Serve
So just why is the Continental grip a good grip to use when serving? If you just stick with your forehand grip, as most of us do when starting out, you can definitely get the ball in and get the point started. But pretty much the only serve you can hit with this grip is a flat, straight serve. You really can't put spin on your serve with a forehand grip.
By switching to a Continental grip, which requires you to shift your racket just a little bit, you will be able to add spin to your serve. You will also be able to add more power by pronating your arm on your serve.
I'm going to save the topics of spin and pronation for another episode. Just know that, if you want to progress with your serve, you need to examine your grip and you most likely need to change it to a Continental grip.
Initial “Issues” With The Continental Grip
So if you make this change, without any instruction on how to use it, what can you expect? Well, just like with most changes you make in tennis, things are going to feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. Your grip on the racket with of course feel different and wrong. When you hit the ball, the sound will be weird and you may notice that your serve is less powerful. You might even notice that, when after your ball lands in the service box, it curves off in one direction or the other. This last one is actually a desirable result and is one of the big benefits of using the Continental grip on the serve – it adds spin to your serve.
Yes, when you switch your grip, you're not going to like it. You may not see any positive results for quite some time and you will want to go back to your good old forehand grip right away. But I encourage you to stay with the Continental grip if it's new for you. Take some balls out and practice serving with the Continental grip. After hitting a few baskets of balls, I think you'll start to see just what this new grip can do for you and it will start feeling much more comfortable. Making any change to any part of your tennis game, especially your serve, can be challenging at first but the results will ultimately be worth the effort.
Let me know what you think about the Simple Serve Tips series by leaving a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE:
Check out the other episodes in the Simple Serve Tips series:
Click here for a PDF download of the Continental grip diagram: Continental Grip Diagram.
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