In recent years, the western forehand grip has become widely popular. This is due to the evolution of tennis, with players moving further and further from the traditional game styles of serve and volley. Nowadays, the game has moved to aggressive baseliners that hit heavy topspin. This led to the perfection and the dramatic increase in popularity of the western forehand grip.
If you are interested in learning how to master the full western grip, you’ll be happy to know that you have just landed on the right site. In this guide, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about the techniques, the pros, the cons, and everything you should consider. With my instructions and a little bit of practice, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.
How To Hold An Western Forehand Grip
Let’s face it, holding a western forehand grip is not exactly the easiest type of grip. This is considered the most extreme grip, and rightly so because it is very uncomfortable. Most players find it awkward and difficult, especially those who are first-time practisers. With that being said, it’s not impossible to learn, and you shouldn’t let doubt interfere with your goals. You need a lot of practice and, of course, the mastering of the right technique.
Make sure to place the palm side of your index finger’s knuckle on the fifth bevel of the racket, and then wrap the rest of your fingers around the handle. The same technique should be applied if you are left-handed too.
Advantages of a Western Grip
The western forehand grip is becoming more and more popular for some very good reasons, which I’ll discuss in this section of the guide.
- Easy access to heavy topspin – more than any other type of grip there is. When practicing a western grip, the racket’s “face” is relatively closed at contact; that’s why it allows players to generate a massive amount of topspin while hitting higher over the net.
- Big groundstrokes – heavy topspin means added weight for the groundstrokes and a higher bouncing ball. This will definitely put any opponent in great difficulty, forcing them to get out of their comfort zone and try hard to keep up. And yes, it’s easier for you to close off the points.
- Higher bouncing balls – I already mentioned this, but it’s important, so it deserves to be highlighted again. Due to the big groundstrokes you’ll be shooting, you’ll be able to generate higher bouncing balls to put your opponent in a great deal of trouble. Not only that, but you’ll be able to deal with higher bouncing balls much better, too, thanks to the naturally closed-at-contact racket’s face. You’ll be able to take more advantage of this if you play on a high bouncing surface, such as a clay court.
- More aggressive game style – heavy topspin, crazy speed, and big groundstrokes are only a result of a very aggressive game strategy. As a matter of fact, the western forehand grip works best for aggressive baseliner, who tend to hit powerful shots while still managing to keep the ball on the field. These types of players love all the advantages mentioned above that the western grip has to offer. They can also manage the fair share of difficulties it comes with it.
Drawbacks of a Western Grip
It would be naive to think that this extreme grip would not come with some serious drawbacks. Here are some of them.
- Difficult to switch to continental grips – this is a real struggle since the continental grip is used for hitting slice shots and volleys. To make the switch, the player should rotate the handle, which might take some precious seconds to do so, considering that the distance between the bevel is relatively large. However, most players get more comfortable with this as they begin to master the western tennis grip and their level advances.
- Awkward low bouncing balls – hitting a tennis ball that bounces extremely low might be dreadful, but it’s something you should deal with western tennis grip. The racket will be facing the ground, so the player must get underneath the ball to save a point. This can be an even bigger problem if you play on low-bounce surfaces or against an opponent who intentionally keeps the bounce low by hitting with backhand slices.
- Flatting groundstrokes can be difficult – This comes as a surprise to none, and it really makes it hard to hit a winning shot from the baseline.
- Risk of serious injuries – the western forehand grip is awkward and extreme and as a result, can lead to a lot of injuries. The risk is very high because this grip puts a lot of pressure and stress on the arm’s muscles, which can cause some serious damage if you are not careful.
Which Pros Use the Western Grip
Since this is a grip mastered mostly by highly advanced players, it might come as a surprise that there aren’t many professionals who use this. Yes, it’s popular, but it wasn’t until recently, and as I explained above, there is a serious reason it is called the extreme western grip.
However, as tennis is evolving, there are some world stars tennis players that have adopted this grip into their game style. Kyle Edmund, Jack Sock, Kei Nishikori, and Karen Khachanov are only a few professionals that are contributing to the increasing popularity of the western forehand grip. It’s worth mentioning that there are some players that use similar variations, such as semi-western grip, but it’s not the same as the western grip.
If you are determined to master the western forehand grip, then my best advice is that you should first and foremost master the technique. Knowing how to hold the handle is the bare minimum but a very important step to avoid any risk of possible injury.
My second best advice is to practice. Practice whenever you can, wherever you can. The western grip is difficult to master and requires a lot of patience and hard work. It can be very beneficial for you to master it if you are naturally an aggressive baseliner with powerful shots. If you manage to take hold of it, the many advantages it offers will make you unstoppable on the court.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a grip suitable for beginners or recreational levels. If you are not advanced enough, stay away until you are ready for it to avoid some serious potential injuries that will leave you in pain and out of the courts for a long time.
After reading about the western forehand grip, some questions may linger. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about the western forehand grip.
Q: Does Nadal use a western grip?
Rafael Nadal is one of the most popular professional tennis players in the world and he is known for his aggressive baseline play. Surprisingly, Nadal actually uses a semi-western grip on his forehand side.
Q: What is an extreme western grip in tennis?
The extreme western grip is a western grip that is used mostly by professional and highly advanced players.
It is considered to be an extreme grip because it puts a lot of pressure and stress on the arm’s muscles, which can cause some serious damage if you are not careful.
Q: What is the most popular grip in tennis?
The most popular grip in tennis is the eastern forehand grip. It is used by a majority of players because it is considered to be the safest and easiest grip to learn. Additionally, the eastern grip provides more control and power than the other grips.
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