The Right Way to Hold a Racquet When You Serve

Top servers come in a wide array of shapes and sizes, and their motions can often be just as unique. However, at the higher echelons of the game, players use one exclusive technique: the Continental grip. 

The Continental grip is found by placing the base knuckle of the index finger on the northeast (northwest for lefties) bevel of the racquet handle. 

This grip provides numerous benefits for server, including amplified service speed, increased spin, variations of serves, and sharper service angles into the service box. Perhaps most important, the Continental grip decreases the chance of arm trauma or injury due to poor technique.

More: Two Basic Grips Every Tennis Player Should Know

Beginners and intermediates often start serving with an Eastern forehand grip, and they have a difficult time switching to the more advanced Continental grip. This is primarily because of the pronation of the forearm needed to square the racquet face with the ball at contact. 

The Eastern forehand grip—also known as the "frying pan" grip—promotes a  squared racquet face but limits the arm and wrist action needed to apply added pace and spin on the ball. The two forces that help bring a serve down into the opposing service box are gravity and spin. Players who use the Eastern forehand grip to serve must rely on gravity. As a result, their second-serve strategy is often to decrease arm speed and push the serve into the box. This type of serve is unreliable under pressure and easy prey for solid opponents.

Once players are ready to take the necessary steps to develop a spin serve using a Continental grip, they must also accept the possibility of setbacks. 

More: 5 Myths on Correct Serving Technique

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About the Author

Frank Giampaolo

Frank Giampaolo is a 25-year tennis industry veteran, founder of The Mental/Emotional Tennis Workshops, recipient of the USPTA Southern California Tennis Director of the Year and author of The Tennis Parent's Bible and Championship Tennis. To learn more from Frank or to order his books, visit tennisparentsolutions.com.

Frank Giampaolo is a 25-year tennis industry veteran, founder of The Mental/Emotional Tennis Workshops, recipient of the USPTA Southern California Tennis Director of the Year and author of The Tennis Parent's Bible and Championship Tennis. To learn more from Frank or to order his books, visit tennisparentsolutions.com.

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