GETTING A GRIP ON YOUR SERVE
by Dan McCormick
Having the “correct” grip is essential in all racquet sports. A perfect swing with an “incorrect” grip results in missed, weak, and inconsistent shots. In fact, a poor swing is often the only way to make an incorrect grip work. This is true with every shot in the game.
One stroke which needs the correct grip more than any other to get the desired result is the shot that starts every point…the serve. The best servers in clubs, leagues, and tournaments across the country have one thing in common…SPIN! Spin increases consistency by allowing the ball to clear the net by a greater margin and still land well inside the service box. Spin also gives the ball more action off the deck, making it more difficult to return. In order to get the needed spin, it is essential to use a grip which allows a natural, smooth, and up-tempo swing to impart spin on the ball.
When talking about the correct grip for any shot it is important to know that there is no exact “correct” grip for any shot. A player needs to be flexible when finding the best grip for a given stroke and situation. The “best” grip for the serve is between the continental and eastern backhand grip. This grip will allow the paddle face to “brush” the ball. This results in putting the desired spin on the ball. Once you have found your best grip a better serve will soon follow.
If you feel comfortable with your grip and the spin on your serve and are still having serving challenges here are a few more thoughts that might be helpful.
• Lift your arm slowly as you release the ball.
• Do not toss the ball to get much higher than you can reach with your paddle.
• Keep your grip relaxed and be sure your wrist gets laid back.
• Contact the ball in front of and to the right of your body (for right handed players).
• Swing up & over the net, not down into the court.
• The best time to practice your serve is before you play. Practice will give you the confidence to believe in your swing
during a game.
• During a weekly game, try playing the first set with all players allowed 2 serves. This will deter the “got to get it in”
nerves and allow you to practice your new grip.
Continental Grip (pictured): For right-handed players, top knuckle of index
finger on right bevel, index finger slightly separated and
the “v” created by the thumb and index finger
should rest on the left bevel. For lefties, top knuckle of
index finger on left bevel, index finger slightly separated
and the “v’ created by the index finger and the
thumb should rest on the right bevel.
Eastern Backhand Grip: From the Continental grip position, the hand rotates one bevel so that the index finger is on the top bevel.