Get a better grip on the Continental Grip

The following is a transcript from OnCourt OffCourt’s Game Changers webinar series, a free educational series for players and coaches of all ages. To see the whole series, click here

Joe:

Let’s just start off by covering what is a continental grip. 

So, in tennis, you’ll have a forehand grip for topspin. You’ll have a continental grip for; we’ll list all the shots; it’s just amazing for many, many shots. 

And then, if you’re a more advanced player, you may nudge it back towards a backhand grip for a topspin backhand, on the one-handed side. 

Most players will use the continental grip for serving and volleying. But it’s also used for a lot of other shots. So let’s just cover them and why. 

I’m going to give the whole picture then we’ll talk about the benefits on the serve and on the volley. 

Okay, similar to the serve is the overhead. That’s another shot you’ll want the continental. 

All Chips. 

All returns of hard-hit shots, because you don’t have time for grip changes. 

All volleys. 

All drop shots. 

Defensive logs. 

You can play a whole match with a continental grip; you can’t play a whole match well with any other grip. 

So, that’s for tennis, and the primary thing we’re using it for, and I want to explain it, is A to serve, and obviously that ties into the overhead because it’s the same motion and then B- on the volley. 

So, let’s get through this a little bit. 

This molded handle gets a big question – who’s it for? – because it’s a shorter tennis racket. 

It’s perfect for all junior players unless they were born with humongous Michael Jordan hands. 

Even I can use the continental grip, and I’m six-two with fairly large hands. I can get used to the continental grip by just keeping four fingers on and letting the pinky hang off, which helps us be more relaxed and have more wrist flexion. 

Now, with this racket, whether it’s a regular tennis racket or this, same thing. If you’re serving, you know, we’ve all seen people serve like they’re serving pizza or a tray, like a waiter’s tray. And then they go like this, and the challenge is it’s kind of easier to start that way, and you see it all over the world, bar none. 

The problem with this is that it’s self-limiting. So, the question is, do you want to end up being a weak or intermediate player on the world scale or have the potential to grow past that level? 

And to grow past that level, the continental grip is really necessary. 

It can take a little bit of work, and that’s why we created this. There’s a large investment into the mold.

And we can explain why.

Instead of a patty-cake serve, watch my wrist. I’m relaxed, and then when I go here, I can’t bend more because my wrist will literally break. 

So, this range of motion. Here’s 90 degrees from horizontal to vertical, and another 45 for 135 degrees. 

That’s the amount of swing you can get out of your wrist. Obviously, you got a backswing, and you can swing further, but the wrist is the fastest in the body, and that wrist action on the serve, and the overhead is what gives power. 

And power is not just in a vacuum. Faster racket swings can also create more spin which adds control to that power. 

So, now we’re going to shift over to the continental grip with this, and we’ll see it starts 45 degrees below horizontal, and it goes up. 45 degrees. Then it goes up to vertical. That’s another 90. And then it goes past. So, we actually got 180 plus another 90, so we got 270 degrees compared to the 135 degrees if we serve “pizza” and hit the tennis ball with a frying pan or western style of grip. 

So, that range of motion gives us so much more opportunity for velocity going into the shot, into contact. You’re only going 45 degrees. 

But with a continental grip, you have 135 degrees. 

You’re expanding pre-contact from 45 degrees to 135. And then you’re expanding post-contact from 45 to also 134. 

It’s huge. Huge. There’s no question. You don’t see anyone on the professional tour, hardly anyone at a High School serving like this. Certainly, you’ll see it. 

Kinesthetic training aids like the Start Rite Grip Trainer dramatically reduce the time it takes to become proficient with all kinds of important tennis shots like chips, lobe, volley, overhead, and serve. 

Watch the rest of this Game Changers webinar by clicking right here