The Lansdorp Forehand
By Robert Lansdorp
Click photo to hear the legendary coach Robert Lansdorp's views on the extreme grips in junior tennis.
The foundation of the forehand is the grip. One of the biggest problems in American junior tennis is the poor foundation so many young players have because of their extreme grips.
Under the handle, extreme western grips are incredibly common in high level junior tennis. Kids have great success early in their careers because they can hit topspin and get a lot of balls in play. If the ball is high and not too fast, these kids actually look pretty good.
The limitations don't show up until later, in the older age divisions or when a good young player first tests himself in professional tennis. Now these same kids suddenly don't look so great. They have severe problems handling the pace in the pro game, especially when the ball is low and skidding.
But nobody talks about these problems. Kids hold the rackets with the extreme grip and think it's alright. Nobody stands up and says that teaching extreme western grips are actually ruining these kids.
Nobody explains to the parents that if you take your 8-year old to a coach who let's the kid hit with an extreme grip, you're already up the creek - you just won't know it for another 8 years. This is what I call the disaster of teaching methods in American junior tennis.
The great players in the history of the game (with very few exceptions) have always had the ability to hit through the ball - to drive the ball with topspin and to handle great pace. It's no different today for a player like Maria Sharapova.
Classical grips, the grips I taught players like Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras, and Lindsay Davenport, allow young players to handle the ball when it is hit hard and is skidding.