The Complete Guide To Finding The Best Tennis Forehand Grip For You

Forehand Grips

Today we are going to go over The Complete Guide To Finding The Best Tennis Forehand Grip For You.

The main thing to keep in mind is that there are different grips for different playing styles and nobody can tell you which one is the best for you.  It is your choice and you need to find the one that feels the best and works for your game.

For example, the tennis pro at your club may suggest that you have to use a full western grip.  Then you might go on a trip down south and the club pro at the resort you are staying at says that full western grips are terrible.  You should be using an eastern grip.

This is confusing, right?  Especially when you are starting out.  You're gonna hear all these different opinions.

That is why we want to go through what each of these different types of forehand grips mean, and then you can try them out for yourself, and pick the absolute perfect forehand grip for your game.

What Are Bevels On A Grip?

To start off, lets talk about the bevels on the racquet grip.

If we're putting the racket on its edge, the top bevel is the flat part on top of the racket and this will be bevel number one. Moving along at 45 degrees to the next bevel, that's number two.

Number three is on the side.

Number four is the next one at 45 degrees and number five is at the bottom.

Why does this matter? This is where you are going to put the knuckle of your index finger on the grip to determine which grip you use.

Continental Grip (John McEnroe)

Let's start out with the continental grip. With this grip, your index finger knuckle would be sitting on bevel number two. 

If you put your index finger knuckle right on that bevel and slide your hand all the way down to the bottom of the racket, with your pinky finger near the butt cap, or the flared-out piece of the racket. 

It's important to note that no matter which grip we talk about, you are holding the bottom of the grip with the pinky finger spread out on the taper. 

The continental grip is going to be the lowest spinning type of grip.  This is the grip we recommend when you are just starting to play tennis.  It allows a beginner to try all shots in tennis without focusing too much on the grip.

Once you get the basic fundamentals of a stroke sorted out, we would hardly ever recommend someone use this as they try to improve their game. 

Another way to think about how the racquet should feel in your hands when holding a continental grip is to think about how you would hold a hammer when hammering in a nail.

This grip was very popular with the older style of play, when tennis players were using wooden rackets and the swing paths on all shots were very flat and players were more pushing/deflecting the ball back. 

With the spin that is used in today's game, we don't really particularly want to use this grip, unless we're strictly a player that just wants to get the ball back over the net without much spin at all.

There are definitely some disadvantages with the continental grip.

If you watch legendary tennis player John McEnroe in the video below, you can see how the racquet face is fairly open when he makes contact with the ball using a continental grip. The position of the racquet caused by this grip will make it very difficult to move the racquet head in an upward brushing motion.

This grip makes it almost impossible to create topspin with the continental grip while having your index finger knuckle on level two.

If you are a recreational player that plays every once in awhile and is happy with getting the ball back over the net and generating a flatter ball flight, then I would recommend you use the continental grip.

Eastern Grip (Roger Federer)

The next one we will go over is the eastern grip.  This is when you would cover bevel number three with your index finger knuckle. 

This is the grip that Roger Federer uses, so it is good for certain players. The advantage of this one is you can still get your racquet to drop and the angle of the strings are pointing slightly down. As you swing up to make contact with the ball the racquet face will automatically help generate more topspin when comparing it to the continental grip.

This grip is not going to generate aggressive topspin like the semi-western and western grips, but it will allow you to create some topspin on your forehand shots. 

The advantage of not having as much topspin is that your ball will move through the court much quicker.  This means it is going less up and down and it's moving flatter through the court. Almost like a rock skipping on water.

The disadvantage is consistency. If you hit a flatter ball, there is a greater chance you will hit the net or your ball will sail long.  Having more topspin on your ball will allow you to hit six or seven feet over the net, and the ball will still drop into the court on the other side.

Meanwhile, a flatter more eastern grip may give you more pace and it can still generate some topspin as long as you get your hand low and brush up through the ball with the angle of the racquet strings slightly angled down. 

He doesn't create tons and tons of topspin, but he can when he needs to. 

He wouldn't create nearly as much topspin as Rafa Nadal, but not many humans do.

One reason why a player like Federer has an eastern grip is because he likes to play and attacking game.  Federer is known for taking the ball early and on the rise and then moving forward to the net to try and finish points off with a volley.

Having an eastern grip allows for hitting flatter balls inside the court and makes a quick transition from an eastern grip to a continental grip so he can hit his volleys.

Semi-Western Grip (Rafa Nadal)

With the semi-western grip, you place your index finger knuckle on the number four bevel, which is the next one 45 degrees down from bevel 3, which you use for the eastern grip. 

To get this grip right, you can place your racquet flat on the ground with the strings pointing down and grab it like you would grab a frying pan.

That's your semi-western grip. 

What this grip does is it forces the racquet head to be tilted forward or closed a little bit more.  To compensate for the racquet to be closed more, we would swing our racquet lower to higher, so the racquet head will automatically generate more topspin.

The semi-western grip is what most pros use, which helps generate spin and hit balls that bounce higher up on you.  Cade would also use a semi-western grip.

Here you can see Rafa hitting his forehand in slow motion.

Western Grip (Jack Sock)

The final grip we will cover here would be having your index finger knuckle on the fifth bevel, which would be all the way on the bottom. 

If you scroll up to the bevel photo at the top of this post, this would be the bottom bevel.  By using this grip you are putting your hand completely underneath the racket. 

To get the feeling for this, place the palm of your

hand towards the sky and your fingers pointing to the left if you are a right-handed player and set the racket in there.  This is how a full western grip would feel. 

Again, your hand slides down to the bottom and your fingers are spread apart. 

This is how Jack Sock would grip his racquet to hit a forehand. 

This is a grip for somebody who's big and strong, has a lot of power and can create a lot of racket head speed, which Jack Sock can definitely do.

You can really see how Jack's elbow is pointing completely down to the ground prior to making contact.

Most people would find this to be an awkward angle here, but if you want to create topspin, there is no way to not create tons of topspin with this grip. 


Give all of these grips a try... continental, eastern, semi-western and full western.

Go out with a friend and have them feed you about 50 balls for each grip. If you don't have a friend to play with you can use a ball machine or hand feed to yourself.

When you are hitting them, notice how the ball flight of the tennis ball changes and with the western grips how it drops down more after you hit it.

Which grip do you think will work for you or which forehand grip do you prefer and why?

Try These Drills With Your New Forehand Grip

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