If you have experience playing tennis, ping pong, or any other racket/paddle sport, you understand the importance of your grip. The right grip can enhance specific shots and allow you to capitalize on your strengths, but it can also present challenges for other shots. Therefore, Pickleball grips plays a crucial role due to the fast-paced nature of the game. With limited time between shots, players generally rely on a single grip to execute a variety of shots effectively.
So in this guide, we will delve deep into the types of Pickleball grips, their significance, and tips for a better hold.
What Are The Basic Pickleball Grips?
To achieve the correct grip while holding a paddle, it is important to position the base knuckle, which is the top knuckle, to determine the grip. The rest of the hand should be placed diagonally across the handle, not straight across. Additionally, the knuckles should be at an angle across the handle, and the paddle should be held more on the fingers and top of the hand.
- Continental Grip – Hold the paddle with your base knuckle at the 2nd position of the bottom of the butt cap.
- Eastern Grip – Hold the paddle with your base knuckle at the 3rd position of the bottom of the butt cap.
- Semi-Western Grip – Hold the paddle with your base knuckle at the 4th position of the bottom of the butt cap.
- Western Grip – Hold the paddle with your base knuckle at the 5th position of the bottom of the butt cap.
Continental Vs Eastern Grips
Continental and Eastern grips are the most popular in Pickleball due to their neutral positioning which makes it versatile when transitioning from backhand to forehand shots.
Both grips, the Eastern and Western, offer versatility for various shots like dinks, volleys, and serves, without requiring grip adjustments. Additionally, both grips provide a flat paddle face, making them well-suited for those shots.
Continental Grip (Hammer):
- Base knuckle on the 2nd position of the bottom of the butt cap.
- Hold the paddle as if you were holding an axe or hammer.
- Ideal for backhands.
Eastern Grip (Shaking Hands):
- Base knuckle on the 3rd position of the bottom of the butt cap.
- Hold the paddle as if you were shaking hands.
- Ideal for forehands with more spin.
Tips for a Better Pickleball Grip
How Much Grip Pressure?
Maintain a firm wrist, allowing the looseness to flow all the way up your arm, from your wrist to your elbow, and continuing up to your shoulder.
Should I Have My Finger On Or My Finger Off?
When you place your index finger on the paddle face, it creates a firmer wrist and paddle grip, allowing for better control in dinking, drops, and resets. This grip, similar to how I hold my ping pong paddle, provides a superior hold for enhanced feel and touch.
On the other hand, when you take your finger off the grip and allow more wrist movement, it enables you to execute flick shots and powerful forehand drives. The increased wrist action will help you hit quicker shots, making it a technique favored by more advanced players.
Can You Switch Grips During A Point?
Not typically. Switching hands in Pickleball is usually not recommended due to the fast pace of the game. However, a slight transition of the back fingers is possible when switching from forehand to backhand or vice versa.
Have A Relaxed Grip
A tight grip can lead to fatigue and decreased control. Keep your grip relaxed, allowing for wrist movement.
Ensure the grip size matches your hand. A too-large grip can cause strain, while a too-small grip can decrease stability.
Overgrips or grip tapes can be used to increase comfort and reduce slippage. They also allow players to customize the grip thickness to their liking.
Regularly Inspect Your Grip
Over time, grips can wear out, become slick, or deteriorate. Regularly inspect and replace when needed.
Why Are The Western And Semi-Western Grip Not Used In Pickleball?
The Western and Semi-Western grips are more commonly associated with tennis, especially due to the nature of stroke production in that sport. While these grips might have been experimented with or used by some Pickleball players in the past, they aren’t as prevalent in the current game for several reasons.
Using a Western or Semi-Western grip can make hitting a backhand challenging when the wrist is facing the net. To overcome this, some players opt for a two-handed backhand for added power. Alternatively, they may switch to their opposite hand and hit a forehand, although this is not ideal for pickleball due to its fast-paced nature.
Nature of the Sport
Pickleball shots, especially dinks, volleys, and serves, require a more straightforward paddle face than what the Western or Semi-Western grips typically offer. These grips naturally close the paddle face, which isn’t ideal for the short, soft shots that are prevalent in pickleball.
Paddle vs. Racquet
The structure of a pickleball paddle is different from a tennis racquet. Racquets have strings and a longer handle, allowing for a different kind of ball contact and whip-like action, which the Western grips can capitalize on for topspin. This isn’t the case with the solid face of a pickleball paddle.
While topspin is valuable in tennis, especially for groundstrokes, pickleball doesn’t rely on it as heavily. The nature of pickleball points, with a focus on dinking and strategic placement, means that heavy topspin isn’t as crucial.
Paddle Face Control
Using a Western or Semi-Western grip in pickleball can make it challenging to maintain a consistent open paddle face for volleys and dinks. This can lead to more unforced errors, especially at the net.
Quick Hand Changes
Pickleball often requires quick hand adjustments, especially in fast volley exchanges. The Continental (or Eastern) grip offers a more neutral hand position, making it easier to switch between forehand and backhand without major grip adjustments.
Evolution of Techniques
As with any sport, techniques evolve based on what’s most effective. As pickleball has grown in popularity and competitiveness, players have gravitated towards grip styles and techniques that offer the best mix of power, control, and adaptability. The Continental grip, for instance, has proven to be versatile and effective for a range of shots in pickleball.
In Pickleball, as in many racquet and paddle sports, the grip is the bridge between the player and the game. By understanding the types of grips and the nuances associated with each, players can not only improve their game but also enjoy the sport more fully.