Since the 1970's at least 3 new grips have been introduced and changed the game of tennis. In the 70s and 80s, the eastern and continental grips were the most popular for all strokes, as these grips generated the most power, but did lack variety and spin. However in the 1990s players introduced a combination of power, spin, and placement, by exaggerating the grip on the racket. This produced the western, semi-western, and continental - semi-western grips. Just by changing the placement of the hand slightly on the handle gives the racket face a new angle, and creates spin on the ball. In today's game, players use topspin when hitting the ball with power to bring the ball down faster after clearing the net. Backspin is used by the players to stop their volleys closer to the net, making it difficult for opponents to chase down and return the ball. The players can also use sidespin or slice to slow the ball down, meaning a lower bounce when it hits the court, making it difficult for the opponent to pick up and generate power.
Apart from the different hand placements, the palm and digits of the hand also have 2 ways to hold the racket which can determine which type of shot is played. If a player wants to play a sharp crosscourt shot or serve with control and placement the forefinger and thumb should tighten on the racket. However, when a player wants to play deep forehand and backhand shots in a baseline rally, the little, ring, and middle fingers should squeeze the handle harder. Learning, using, and understanding all of these grips takes much time and patience, but after all the best grip is the most comfortable grip.
This combination of the continental and semi-western grips is usually preferred on a two-handed backhand or forehand because it allows a player to have maximum control, power, and topspin of their groundstrokes.
How: To execute this grip, players should put the strong hand in the continental grip, and then place the weaker hand above on the handle in the semi-western grip. Both hands should just touch each other on the handle. The hands should stay in position until a stroke has been fully executed.
Other players do use slightly different approaches when completing a two-handed stroke. These include the basic eastern grip, with both hands, and then other combinations such as the eastern - semi-western, and continental - eastern grip.
Explanation: This grip is suitable for all abilities, as there is only a very slight change from the standard eastern grip. The semi-western can gain a player extra control over the ball and add topspin.
Another advantage of this grip is the allowance for quick grip changes, as the hand position is situated between the eastern and western grips a slight movement in either direction and the grip changes.
How: Start this grip as for the western grip, then turn the racket back slightly towards the eastern grip. This means back to the left for the right-handed and to the right for left-handed players, but be careful not to turn it all the way back to the standard eastern grip position.
With the semi-western grip, it is important to follow through and end with the non-playing hand (left for the right-handed) on the grip as well. This allows the non-playing hand to switch the grip if needed before the next shot reaches the player.
Explanation: This is another grip for the more advanced player, and is generally used on forehand and swinging volley shots.
The western grip allows for good power generation alongside topspin, but the amount of power and spin depends on how quick players can swing and brush up the back of the ball.
The disadvantages to this grip are that the racket face is closed, meaning facing down towards the floor, which makes it harder to get the ball up and over the net. The ball must be hit from low to high to counteract the closed face.
How: Again start using the eastern grip but then turn the racket in the opposite direction to the continental grip. So for the right-handed player, the racket should be turned to the right, and to the left for the left-handed player.
Fingers should stay slightly spread, and the thumb should lie across the top of the handle. The grip should stay loose to create a smooth swing, but tighten when the racket makes contact with the ball.
Explanation: This grip is often used by players who have mastered the eastern grip and want to start adding to their game. So mostly intermediate to advanced players. The advantages of this grip include creating topspin, slice, and backspin.
However it cannot be used on forehand strokes as it leaves the face of the racket open, and to try and correct this can cause injury to the wrist.
How: Start by holding the racket in the same position as the eastern grip. Then whilst keeping the hand holding the racket still, twist the racket slightly to the left (right-handed) or to the right (left handed).
The fingers should stay spread slightly, and the thumb and forefinger V shape should still point back at the player. The forefinger should now almost be resting on top of the handle, with the thumb running the length of the handle.
Common Fault: Using this grip, players often tighten the grip at the wrong time, and as a result lose the ability to place the ball. Concentrate on tightening the grip as the forward motion of the swing begins.
Explanation: This is the most basic grip and used by the majority of beginners and amateurs, possibly because it is known as the most comfortable and easiest to use. Another advantage of this grip is that it is very versatile as it can be used for the forehand, backhand, serve, and volley.
How: For the eastern grip players hold the racket out in front of them in the non-playing hand (left hand for a right-handed player) and make sure the racket face (strings) is sideways, not facing the sky or floor.
Once in this position players can then place the playing hand (right hand for a right-handed player), on the racket face, with the palm against the strings. The next stage is to slide the playing hand down the racket shaft all the way to the bottom of the handle, then wrap the thumb and fingers around the racket making sure the fingers are spread slightly.
To ensure players are doing it correctly the forefinger and thumb should form a V shape on top of the handle, which in turn should point all the way up the arm to the same shoulder.