While not as popular as it once was, the eastern grip is among the three most common tennis grips used by recreational and professional players.
In this article we’ll take a look at the eastern forehand grip in detail and explore the pros and cons of using this particular grip.
The Eastern Tennis Grip
The eastern forehand tennis grip was a rather natural evolution from the popular continental grip used by most players prior to the 1920’s.
While the semi-western and western tennis grips are comparatively more extreme, the eastern grip allowed players to move from the continental grip without radically changing how they held the tennis racquet.
Similar to other forehand grips, the eastern grip evolved as the sport became more competitive and players wanted to hit more aggressive shots, while still maintaining a high margin for error.
While still used by professional and recreational players, it has become less popular as more and more players have adopted the semi-western or western grip.
Holding an Eastern Grip
Holding an eastern forehand grip is rather simple. In order to understand how to hold an eastern grip it can be helpful to recognize that all tennis racquet handles form roughly the shape of an octagon, which is a shape that has eight sides, or bevels as their referred to in tennis, similar to a stop sign.
If we label each side with a corresponding number, as in the diagram below, we can easily pick out the eastern forehand grip. Simply place the palm side of your index fingers knuckle against the third bevel of the tennis racquet if you’re right handed, or if you’re left handed against the seventh bevel, and then firmly wrap your fingers around the handle.
For most players, and in particular beginners, the easter grip will feel pretty comfortable. As a result, the eastern grip is still taught by many instructors when players first start, especially if the semi-western or western tennis grip feels uncomfortable.
Benefits of an Eastern Grip
One of the advantages of an eastern tennis grip is it’s proximity to the continental grip. This can be beneficial as it allows players to quickly transition from a forehand to volleys and vice versa. In particular, a player transitions from the baseline to the net, which is usually done by hitting an approach shot, it’s rather quick and easy to change grips they’re ready to hit a follow up volley.
Similarly, when hitting a return of serve, the eastern grip may afford some players the advantage of more quickly transitioning grips to hit a forehand or backhand return.
For example, if you’re returning and you have a two handed backhand, you can very easily hold your eastern forehand grip while you’re waiting for the serve, and then transition your grip with two hands to hit your backhand if the ball ends up traveling in that direction.
Rather, comparatively speaking, players transitioning from an eastern to a continental grip to block the ball back, chip and charge or to hit a backhand, may find the transition more quick and easy.
Lastly, the eastern grip can also allow players to flatten out the ball, hitting with less topspin. In most cases this wouldn’t be a major advantage for beginners, as flattening out the ball usually results in a shot where there is little margin for error.
However, in highly competitive matches the ability to flatten out the ball can be beneficial when hitting a passing shot or closing out a point with a crisp down the line or cross court shot that doesn’t bounce high as with much topspin, making it more difficult for your opponent to get to the ball on the run.
Drawbacks of an Eastern Grip
Overall, the primary drawback for an eastern grip is that it is more difficult to generate large amounts of topspin. For some players, this may not be looked at as major drawback, however hitting with more topspin allows players to hit the ball aggressively while maintaining a high level of consistency with their shots.
This is not to say players with an eastern grip can’t hit the ball aggressively. However, players using a semi-western or western tennis grip can usually generate more topspin, hit higher over the net, and ensure to ball drops back into the court because of the topspin.
As a result, many big hitting, grinding baseliners will tend to use the semi-western or western grip rather than an eastern grip.
Should I Use an Eastern Grip?
While there’s no simple answer to this question, the eastern grip can be a great grip to start out with as a beginner. It’s typically a rather comfortable grip for new players, although in most cases it will depend on your desired style of play.
Regardless, the eastern grip, while less popular than it once was, remains a staple grip in tennis continuing to be used by many players. The best thing you can do is be flexible and allow your grip to evolve with your game as you advance and your skillset grows.
Have questions about the eastern tennis grip? Feel free to ask us in the comments below.
Photo Credit: FedererFan07
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