Without the correct grip on your forehand, you will not have a good forehand.
There are several options for your forehand grip in tennis. Roger Federer uses what is called an eastern grip while Nadal uses a semi-western grip.
This comes down to personal preference but most recreational players who have good forehands use an eastern to semi-western grip. Below you’ll learn how to find the best tennis forehand grip for you.
The Eastern Forehand Grip
This used to be the most common tennis forehand grip. Roger Federer and several other pro tennis players still use the eastern forehand grip. It allows for a good combination of power and spin on your forehand.
To try the eastern grip, lay your dominant hand out with your palm facing up. Then, lay the racquet in your hand with the strings facing up. Close your hand around the grip, and you’ve got the eastern grip for your forehand.
Your palm should be on the side of the grip when you are in ready position – strings facing to the side.
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The Semi-Western Forehand Grip
The Semi-Western grip is the most common forehand grip in tennis. Andy Murry and Rafael Nadal have some of the best semi-western forehands on the pro tennis tour.
If you’re looking for more spin than an eastern grip, then this might be the best fit for you.
How do you know you’re using a semi-western grip?
The Full Western Forehand Grip
The full western grip is a difficult grip to use for recreational tennis players. Although it is used by some pros, you need to play a lot of tennis to use this grip because it requires excellent timing and precision. This grip will provide the most spin of any grip in tennis.
To grip the racquet with a full western grip, hold the racquet with your left hand at the neck of the racquet with your strings facing down. Grip the side of the racquet. When you make contact with the ball on your forehand using a full western grip, your hand will be under the racquet with your palm facing up.
It is awkward for most players, so I don’t usually recommend it unless it’s a natural motion for you.
The Continental Grip
The continental grip is almost never used on forehands in today’s game. It used to be the standard, but as more players developed topspin during the late 20th century, the continental grip died out. It is still used by teaching pros to feed balls, but in match play, you almost never see it.
To grip the racquet with a continental grip, grab the neck of the racquet with your right hand. Then slide your hand, without rotating the racquet, all the way down to the grip. If you’re hitting a slice forehand then, the continental grip is a great option. It is also used for volleys and the serve, but not recommended for forehand groundstrokes.
>> Next, read about proper technique, tips, & drills to improve your forehand!
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Which Tennis Forehand Grip is Best?
When deciding which grip is best, you’ll want to do what feels most natural for you. Go out on the court and hit several forehands with each grip to see which one you prefer. Use the images on this page or watch a video on forehand grips will help you know which kind you are using.
Typically a more western grip will result in more topspin while an eastern grip will have more power and be a little flatter ball. I do not recommend a continental grip or a full western for recreational tennis players.
The continental grip doesn’t allow for a lot of topspin on your forehand, so you will struggle to make them consistently. A full western grip does allow for topspin but it does not usually have much power, and it is difficult to time the shot. To master a full western grip, you need to practice for hours a day which most players don’t have time for.
I recommend the semi-western grip for most forehands and expect it will feel most natural for you as well.
Nadal actually hits a semi western
Will Boucek says
You’re right John. I’ve updated the post.
Thanks for the correction 😉
Paul Jessop says
Eastern Grip most common among the pros??!! I think it’s more like 80% of them use the Semi Western grip!! Only Federer, Del Potro and Batista-Agut spring to mind that use Eastern. I’d go as far as saying more people use Western than Eastern these days.
Will Boucek says
Thanks Paul! I’ve updated the post. This was written a few years ago, but I think you’re right that most players use semi-western.
Bob Moylan says
Thanks for the tennis 🎾 tips on forehand
Chris Turner says
You can cite John McEnroe with his continental forehand grip. He also has a much more classic forehand all round, more linear than the modern, so-called ATP forehand.
Will Boucek says
Great points Chris! The game has evolved a lot since McEnroe and the forehand grip & swing path have changed with it.
Joann Christian says
How about Elena Rybakina forehand grip? She’s incredible!! Thanks !
Will Boucek says
Hi Joann, she has a great forehand. I haven’t studied it specifically so I’m not sure exactly what grip she uses. If you have some close-up pictures, I can take a look. I imagine it’s somewhere between semi-western and eastern.