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Modern Two-Handed Backhand: Grip Combinations

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  • DougEng
    replied
    Hi Pedro,

    As opposed to wrap-around?
    It depends on the tactical situation.
    A vertical finish is result of a more compact, flatter swing and today's pros
    generate too much racquet head speed and spin to inhibit the swing naturally.

    No pro currently pre-dominantly uses the straight-up finish as their rallying stroke but you can still see shorter follow-throughs in emergency situations...for example a defensive blocking return on the run. Just as you might see lobs, slices, serve returns, etc, you will see still see shorter flatter swings.

    Doug




    Originally posted by privas View Post
    Doug, Thanks for your reply with regards to Borg. I look forward to future articles on the two-handed backhand, specifically with regards to "the finish." For example, do any top pros today use a vertical finish?

    Also, it would be nice to see a detailed look at Novak's two-hander, the hottest shot in tennis, as well. I appreciate your passion for the game, and for this website. Pedro

    Leave a comment:


  • privas
    replied
    Thanks!

    Doug, Thanks for your reply with regards to Borg. I look forward to future articles on the two-handed backhand, specifically with regards to "the finish." For example, do any top pros today use a vertical finish?

    Also, it would be nice to see a detailed look at Novak's two-hander, the hottest shot in tennis, as well. I appreciate your passion for the game, and for this website. Pedro

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Borg Backhand Grip

    Hi Pedro,

    Here are a couple photos of Borg and I include Chris Evert....many of the earlier two-handers were more similar to one-handed backhands (eastern backhand grips or close to that) with the top (non-dominant) hand acting as support. Wrist flexion and variations in the continental grip have become more popular in recent technique. Therefore, Borg was bottom hand dominant and swung it like a hockey stick (his other sport as a youth), as commonly described.BorgBH.jpg

    chris-Evert-backhand.jpg

    Leave a comment:


  • privas
    replied
    Borg backhand grip combination

    Doug, Would you happen to know what Borg's backhand grip combination was back in the 70s? Since it wasn't a true two-hander, I am wondering if his grip combination led to his unique technique. Pedro

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Open Racquet Face and High Loop

    Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
    Interesting point about the open racket on the forehand backswing with some players who use a semi western grip, girls do it all the time it seems. I try to suppress it if becomes extreme...also the loop often takes place above the their head and not to the side of it...I guess this is something that is governed by the grip too?
    I also try to limit it but it depends on the player. Some players look like they can pull it off at a high level (check many touring pros) so this is a matter of associated technique and coaches learning from players. It does have some purpose with the higher bouncing balls and junior players feel they need to set up higher. Yes, it is with the semi-western grips and western grips. An advantage is that it clearly gets the wrist into the L position (one of the 2-3 bends in the forehand swing) with the racquet face. A lower shorter loop with an eastern grip tends to promote more wrist flexion as with Andre Agassi so if the player is a bit off...he's way off...ala Federer. On the other hand, these players with open racquet faces don't develop as good feel and they rely on a large degree of rotation around the elbow joint in order to close the racquet face (much like pronation) which also leads to inconsistent results.

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Open racket face

    Interesting point about the open racket on the forehand backswing with some players who use a semi western grip, girls do it all the time it seems. I try to suppress it if becomes extreme...also the loop often takes place above the their head and not to the side of it...I guess this is something that is governed by the grip too?

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Originally posted by bowt View Post
    I thought this article was brilliant

    In my opinion grip combination is the most important thing with hitting an effective shot

    I'm interested in the heel pad thing rather than using the index knuckle / thumb approach to defining grips because of differences in hand size etc.
    Thank you. In addition, different players have the hands at slightly different angles which change the heel pad and index knuckle relative positions even if described as the same grip.

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
    Doug, if you're checking into this thread, aside from grips, are there any associated techniques to be aware of on the forehand side? I'm aware of how different grips effect the forehand, but what about the initial early part of the backswing? I teach a kid who initiates the backswing like Nadal; racket head pointing upwards, and another kid who swoops the racket head downwards first (like Sampras, Borg). Are there any associated techniques to be aware of with these different types of forehands...just curious.

    By the way, the kid with racket tip pointing up has a semi western grip; the kid who drops the racket head down has an eastern grip.
    Hi LicensedCoach,

    Even if you didn't have the last sentence, I would have guess (correctly) who had the semi-western and eastern grips. There are associations with the backswings, but its not 100% foolproof. The eastern grip usually is hit at a lower contact point, so the backswings tend to be lower. The western grips have a higher natural contact point, so the backswing tend to be higher. In addition, because of the higher contact points, the follow through tends to be lower (aka windshield wiper follow-through at the elbow or triceps). Many pros still teach follow-through over the shoulder, but this is generally true for only eastern grips with medium-high rally balls (baseline). Semi-westerns often vary depending on the height of contact and amount of spin intended. Think of the stroke with the highest contact point....it's the overhead or serve and they have follow-throughs going downwards. The swing with the highest follow-through is the reverse or buggy-whip and the contact point is usually low (knee high or even lower). Also spin is a factor, of course.

    For example, many juniors now take the backswing with an open racquet face. They use a semi-western and take a high loop with a extended wrist position (aka cocked) which actually opens the racquet face in the high loop. The tip of the racquet literally folds backwards. Compared this with Andre Agassi who has a closed racquet face. Andre has a more relaxed wrist than most players and he doesn't force it into a cocked position
    Attached Files

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  • DougEng
    replied
    Originally posted by privas View Post
    Doug,

    I look forward to the day when we eliminate the archaic terms "continental" and "eastern backhand grip" and "western" and the like, from tennis jargon. When we say Djoko uses continental grip with his right hand on the bottom of the two-handed backhand and eastern forehand with his left hand on the top I want to know if his backhand grip is therefore (knuckle/heel pad):
    1. L (7/7) R (2/1) or 2. L (7/7) R (2/2) or 3. L (6.5/7) R (1.5/1) or 4. L (7.5/7)
    R (2/1).

    Because of the prevalence of hybrid grips, I look forward to the day when you create an App called "Get A Grip" where you input your hand size and your grip size, and then the App gives you the correct grips (numbers only) to use for the different strokes, ranked in order from beginner to advanced! You can also input your height, if this is relevant. Much time and money is wasted on tennis lessons because people aren't talking about the same thing.

    I hope you can develop this in the future! Pedro Rivas
    Hi Pedro,

    Yes, quite a good idea and it would be a more precise description. However, most people have simple non-quantitative schemas. That's how they mentally organize their world. A sunny, warm day with a slight breeze is more precisely described as 77˚F, 10% humidity, 10 mph wind from the SW, and a UV index of 8. The latter is great for research and comparison but most people can't think that way...even if you simplified it.

    Doug

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Originally posted by privas View Post
    Doug,

    I look forward to the day when we eliminate the archaic terms "continental" and "eastern backhand grip" and "western" and the like, from tennis jargon. When we say Djoko uses continental grip with his right hand on the bottom of the two-handed backhand and eastern forehand with his left hand on the top I want to know if his backhand grip is therefore (knuckle/heel pad):
    1. L (7/7) R (2/1) or 2. L (7/7) R (2/2) or 3. L (6.5/7) R (1.5/1) or 4. L (7.5/7)
    R (2/1).

    Because of the prevalence of hybrid grips, I look forward to the day when you create an App called "Get A Grip" where you input your hand size and your grip size, and then the App gives you the correct grips (numbers only) to use for the different strokes, ranked in order from beginner to advanced! You can also input your height, if this is relevant. Much time and money is wasted on tennis lessons because people aren't talking about the same thing.

    I hope you can develop this in the future! Pedro Rivas
    Hi Pedro,

    Might be a tough proposition. Although it is useful to quantify or codify things, not everyone thinks that way. It is more precise, but often people have different schemas to character something. For example, most people might think warm, sunny with a breeze day which is a nice description of weather, but more accurate for records and comparison might be 77˚F, 10% humidity, 20% shade, 5-10 mph wind.

    Doug

    Leave a comment:


  • bowt
    replied
    I thought this article was brilliant

    In my opinion grip combination is the most important thing with hitting an effective shot

    I'm interested in the heel pad thing rather than using the index knuckle / thumb approach to defining grips because of differences in hand size etc.

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Doug, if you're checking into this thread, aside from grips, are there any associated techniques to be aware of on the forehand side? I'm aware of how different grips effect the forehand, but what about the initial early part of the backswing? I teach a kid who initiates the backswing like Nadal; racket head pointing upwards, and another kid who swoops the racket head downwards first (like Sampras, Borg). Are there any associated techniques to be aware of with these different types of forehands...just curious.

    By the way, the kid with racket tip pointing up has a semi western grip; the kid who drops the racket head down has an eastern grip.
    Last edited by stotty; 11-06-2011, 05:06 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • privas
    replied
    Get a Grip!

    Doug,

    I look forward to the day when we eliminate the archaic terms "continental" and "eastern backhand grip" and "western" and the like, from tennis jargon. When we say Djoko uses continental grip with his right hand on the bottom of the two-handed backhand and eastern forehand with his left hand on the top I want to know if his backhand grip is therefore (knuckle/heel pad):
    1. L (7/7) R (2/1) or 2. L (7/7) R (2/2) or 3. L (6.5/7) R (1.5/1) or 4. L (7.5/7)
    R (2/1).

    Because of the prevalence of hybrid grips, I look forward to the day when you create an App called "Get A Grip" where you input your hand size and your grip size, and then the App gives you the correct grips (numbers only) to use for the different strokes, ranked in order from beginner to advanced! You can also input your height, if this is relevant. Much time and money is wasted on tennis lessons because people aren't talking about the same thing.

    I hope you can develop this in the future! Pedro Rivas

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
    What a great article. The Associated Techniques paragraph was certainly an eye-opener for me - fascinating.

    I'd like to point out one of my observations about grips in general:

    In my opinion, the heel of the hand is the only "true reference point" when teaching or ascertaining players' grips. This is because everyones hands are shaped differently so although the knuckles can sometimes "appear" in the right place, a quick look at the heel of hand often tells a more true story.

    Remember, the length of peoples' fingers and their knuckle locations can vary dramatically from person to person - so those knuckles can never be counted on as a "true reference" point. Contrast that with the heel of the hand which is in pretty much the same position for every human being.

    For me, when teaching, I start by positioning the heel of hand correctly then fine tune the knuckles after that. Very often the knuckles fall into place naturally once the heel of the hand is correctly placed.

    Fabulous article, Doug! I gleaned a lot from it.
    That is one way of doing it! For example, I was measure the hands of one student compared to mine and it was the same length but he cannot grasp the grip like myself so his hands are 1 or 1.5 grip sizes smaller. He has longer fingers but a shorter palm.

    Yes, we take associated techniques for granted and often teach them as if they are unrelated. But definitely, more coaches are realizing you need to teach them together. For example, some grip styles allow for higher contact points on the two-handed backhand and the elbows on the finish may finish higher for certain grips. Very top-hand dominated backhands tend to let the elbow of the bottom hand stay down. A continental backhand or eastern backhamd grip with the bottom hand tends to make that arm dominant. In that case, if the bottom hand controls the racquet a bit more, the follow-through tends to be more compact and the elbow doesn't stay down as much.

    A player with two eastern forehand grips will usually let the bottom hand elbow stay very close to the body on the follow-through and wrap the top arm around. But sometimes I hear pros say, let both elbows come up. Maybe if the ball is quite low and the student is adding extra topspin for a more vertical swing, this makes sense. Otherwise, maybe not.

    Leave a comment:


  • DougEng
    replied
    Originally posted by privas View Post
    Greetings from San Antonio, TX. Thanks very much for writing this article. I called you on the phone the day I saw it, and I thank you for returning my call.

    The greatest teaching point, I believe, is the necessary concept of the Hybrid Grip. As you mentioned, when these big pros with huge hands hit with smaller grips, it's tough to pin-point exactly where the index knuckle, and where the heel pad truly are, and many times they are on adjacent bevels, not the same bevel. My hand is size 4 and 1/2 but I use 4 and 3/8 grip.

    Like many folks who take lessons, I was taught the L eastern- R continental combination. But as I advanced, this became inadequate very quickly. After reading your article, I began using a hybrid grip with both hands: semi-western/eastern on the left hand (6/7), and right hand with knuckle between eastern backhand and continental (1-1/2) and heel pad eastern backhand (1). For me, it is very difficult to get full extension unless the heel pad of my right hand is on the top of the frame. When the heel pad of the right hand is on bevel 2 it feels like the right hand and the left hand are fighting against each other at the end of the stroke...regardless of what the left hand grip may be.

    For several years, continental with the right hand meant (2/2) only, not (2/1) which many people now use as the Hybrid version to slice, serve, volley and, some one-handed backhand-types (God bless them!) in the ready position to return serve.

    Thanks for clarifying this important teaching point with regards to the two-handed backhand. I think this is a major contribution made possible by Mr. Yandell's filming techniques. I look forward to the next segment. Pedro

    Pedro, it was great to chat on the phone. The smaller grips indeed allow non-conventional hand positions. Incidentally, also I noted more men place the top hand in a non-convention grip. Women tend to place the top hand in conventional grips. Part of the reason is that the racquet manufacturers make the length of the grips too short for men to hold it fully. Most women can easily place both hands on the racquet. One of the unconventional finger positions with men involve the thumb which is often placed above all four fingers rather than the classic three finger, thumb, index finger alignment. Its more of a power, rather than finesse, position so perhaps indirectly resulting in men tending to use straighter arms and elbows. Yes, often we can't describe the grips on the two-handed backhand using exact forehand terminology. Hybrid grips are more likely due to extra support, racquet tilt, and distance from the shoulder joint. That is the racquet is not positioned like the forehand and the top hand is not exactly distally placed like the forehand.

    Leave a comment:

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