TAG Tennis Coach Michael Mantua with a semi-western grip Forehand

Essentials to ensuring Best Tennis Fundamentals for Competitive Tennis Junior Players to Develop them for Top Level Tennis: Eastern Grip, Semi-Western Grip and the Continental Grip – The TAG Definitive Guide Series

TAG Tennis Coach Michael Mantua with a semi-western grip Forehand
TAG Coach Michael Mantual uses a semi-western forehand

The most important stage in a competitive junior tennis player’s development pathways is when Junior acquires his tennis fundamentals, or tennis basics. While there are several ways to grip a tennis racquet or swing the tennis racquet to hit the tennis ball, there is a long of research to support that there are optimal grips for each of the tennis shots and the most ideal swing path for each shot so as to enable Junior to have long term success in the tennis game. This article explains the best grips: Eastern forehand grip, semi-western forehand grip, eastern backhand grip and continental grip for each of the strokes – the Forehand, the single-backhand, the double backhand, the slice and the volley and overhead smash.

TAG Tennis Coach Israel Abarquez with a semi-western forehand grip Forehand
TAG Tennis Coach Israel Abarquez with a semi-western forehand grip Forehand

1. Forehand – The best tennis basic for the Forehand grip is to be within the range of Eastern forehand to Western Forehand.

Forehand – Do not use a continental grip/ Hammer grip/ chopper grip

On the forehand, we begin by emphasising that while it is very possible to hit a decent ball with a continental grip (hammer grip/ chopper grip), and because of the ease of which juniors can first hit a tennis ball with this group as it results in a fairly open racquet face at contact point to enable the all to clear the net, it should be avoided. Junior’s short term success will eventually give way to the inability to hit the ball hard due to the weakness of continental grip forehand to hit the ball very hard while imparting topspin, limiting the tennis player’s ability to attack with a high level of consistency. As such, finding the best tennis coaches in Singapore to important the ideal tennis fundamentals to Junior as he starts out on his tennis journey is very important.

Ideal grips for forehand

 TAG Coach X uses a semi-western forehand grip
TAG Coach X uses a semi-western forehand

The ideal grip for a forehand would be the eastern forehand group (Pete Sampras), the strong eastern forehand grip (Roger Federer), the semi-western forehand grip (Novak Djokovic), and the western forehand grip (Rafael Nadal).

Eastern Forehand

The eastern forehand grip results in a very “square’ and flat impact with the tennis ball off, resulting in tremendous power and a very straight ball that has a high chance and struck well, for a lot of winners and forced errors from the opponent. When struck well, it is a fairly straight ball in flight through the air and very fast with a lower spin rate. For single-backhanded players, on the return of serve, the eastern grip is also much nearer to the various backhand grips when rushed for time on the return of serve.

The disadvantage of the eastern forehand grip is that due to its square racquet face on impact, there is a high tendency for the ball to fly straight to the fence when mistimed .

Western Forehand

 TAG Tennis Coach Dave Regencia with a western grip Forehand
TAG Tennis Coach Dave Regencia with a western grip Forehand

This is a very common grip for Juniors who start out early because the strongest part of a swing at impact of a forehand stroke that utilizes this grip is above the shoulder to head height of the forehand shot. As Juniors start out early in the game, the height of the ball bounce means the Juniors are often hitting the ball at shoulder to head height. While this grip is very good for high balls, it has a disadvantage that it is unable to pick up low balls very well. Which is why as Junior gets older and starts to grow taller, the balls that were once at shoulder height would now be between their knee and waist, of which the full western grip is not an ideal grip to hit such lower balls effectively, resulting in a lack of penetration on the shots. It is also a grip that results in a very “brushy” stroke and spinny, high-bouncing shot. At this point of time, it might be necessary to engage tennis coaches to gradually re-work Junior’s tennis fundamentals to “evolve” his grip gradually back to a semi-western forehand.

Strong eastern forehand or semi-western forehand

 TAG Tennis Coach Bo Alburo uses a strong eastern grip Forehand
TAG Tennis Coach Bo Alburo with a strong eastern grip Forehand

The eastern forehand or semi-western forehand is the ideal grip to hit the forehand for its balance between the ease of returning a serve, it’s ability to hit the ball powerfully, and yet with an ease of accessibility to topspin to provide the ball with sufficient spin the ball to land within the court with effective penetration and sufficient topspin to land in the court. It also allows the player to “bypass” the side of the ball to it the shorter angles where needed, resulting in the player possessing both a “long” game, and also a “wide” game.

TAG Coach Jeremy Maniago uses a semi-western forehand grip

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