The Complete Guide to Pickleball Grip Techniques (How-to Clips Included)
Like any racquet sport, pickleball requires the right kind of grip to hit the ball correctly.
There are some different grips that you can choose from, each offering their pros and cons. Some people will use multiple grips in one game, switching between a few favorites depending on the type of shot they’re attempting.
Here’s the deal:
If you are new to pickleball you’re probably more concerned about the proper grip techniques.
More so, pickleball is still a young sport in terms of popularity, so grip knowledge is still in more of a developmental stage than it is for other sports like tennis or racquetball.
The Continental Grip
Also referred to as the hammer grip, this is a popular grip that most players use in pickleball. It used to be popular in tennis, too. To properly achieve the Continental grip, you pick up your paddle by the handle in the same way you’d pick up a hammer when looking to hammer in a nail (using the edge of the paddle as the hammerhead). To check your grip, look to see if a “V” shape is made with your thumb and pointer finger. This “V” should be in the middle of the top edge of the paddle.
According to many experts, the advantages of the Continental grip are:
- Good for hitting lower balls
- Good for slice shots
- Appropriate for touch shots
- High degree of versatility
There are some disadvantages, however. Some of these are:
- Tough for people with weaker wrists/forearms
- Harder to get more power on your shots
- Harder to get a good topspin
- Not very good for higher balls
The advantages outweigh the disadvantages here, especially because the grip is so versatile. Most players will find that it’s a good grip to use when playing at the net where there are more quick volleys. This fast-paced action makes it harder to change grips mid-play, so the Continental grip is your best option here. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about switching between a forehand grip and a backhand grip for different shots as you have to do with other grips.
More so, the disadvantages of this grip seem to be more important for tennis players and less important for pickleball. For example, in pickleball, there aren’t many high balls as most shots are hit low. Also, people with weak wrists or forearms might not have as much of a problem here since pickleball paddles are lighter than other racquets that might be more taxing on the body.
This grip is best for beginners who are still getting used to playing the game. You can hit most shots with this grip and won’t have to worry about developing a backhand grip if you aren’t ready to do so. The Continental grip is so good that there are also a lot of higher level players who use this as their favorite grip. That being said, a lot of players tend to move away from the Continental grip as they develop a more advanced gameplay due to the grips lack of power and topspin.
Eastern Forehand Grip
To properly achieve the Eastern Forehand grip, put your flat hand on the paddle’s face and slide your palm down the paddle toward the handle and grip the handle. This is also a versatile grip, but it allows for more of a topspin when you brush the back of the ball. You can also hit the ball with more power. As you gain more experience, you’ll also see that you can easily switch between this and the Continental grip when you play at the net.
This grip is great for beginners but is used by experienced players, too, since it allows for more power and topspin. If you’re just learning how to volley in pickleball and are still mastering your forehand stroke, this grip is great for you. In general, it works for the following strokes:
- Forehand groundstroke
- Forehand volley
- Overhead shots
- Some backhand slices
The problems with the Eastern Forehand grip comes into play for backhand groundstrokes. While some players seem to have decent enough backhand slices with this grip, it is more the exception than the rule. More so, there are rarely good topspin drives made with this grip. Most players will tell you that backhand volleys are a struggle with this grip, too.
Eastern Backhand Grip
To properly achieve the Eastern Backhand grip, hold the paddle in the Eastern Forehand grip then rotate your hand so your pointer finger’s knuckle and the heel of your hand land on the handle grip so your thumb is diagonally extended across the grip. This is simply used for backhand shots. You can switch between this and the other forehand grips during the game once you get used to playing and feeling comfortable switching between grips.
Hopefully, the above explanations were enough to tell you how to achieve each one of the popular pickleball grips properly. To further help you, here are some frequently asked questions that come up when discussing pickleball grips.
1. How can you tell the difference between the grips?
The best way to do this is to look at the grip of the paddle. They’re octagons and can be numbered as seen in this picture.
For the Continental grip, the “V” created by your hand should be on the 1. When you rotate your hand counterclockwise to the 2, you’ll get the stronger Eastern forehand grip. For the Eastern backhand grip, your “V” should be on the 8.
2. What are ways to help switch from backhand to forehand?
As you get better at pickleball you’ll want to switch between a forehand and backhand grip while playing. As described above, you can rotate your hand from one position to another. Another option for those who are ambidextrous or can train themselves to be is to switch hands for each grip during gameplay. This is harder if you have a hand that is significantly weaker, however. You have to do this quickly, so you don’t drop the paddle and can get into position to make your shot. That being said, there are a lot of players who train themselves to do this instead of switching grips with one hand.
3. What are the dimensions of a pickleball paddle?
For some people, knowing the size of the paddle you’re using can help you understand the grips better. A pickleball paddle approved by the USAPA can’t be bigger than 24 inches including the edge guard and butt cap. This is the maximum size, but manufacturers can work below that maximum. The most common dimensions are 8 inches wide by about 16 inches long.
There are other paddles known as elongated paddles or blade paddles that are a little longer and a bit narrower. Currently, there are no limits to the thickness of a pickleball paddle.
These are the most common pickleball grips, but as more people pick up the game, it’s possible that different grips will be developed and taken up by others. This is especially true as experienced tennis players and other racquet sports players move over to pickleball and use their tennis grips in their play. If you’re a beginner, you’ll soon find what works best for you the more you play. You’ll also be able to switch between grips as you gain more experience. Hopefully, this helps you develop your grip and improve your pickleball game.