If you're a lefty Nestie tennis player who struggles with right-handed gadgets, you'll be happy to know that tennis rackets are designed for both righties and lefties. You might think that as a southpaw you have to grip your racket differently. Well, you do, but the grips are simply a mirror image of the right-handers’ grips. Once you know how to locate the grips, experiment with them to find the right ones to best fit your playing style.
Method for Finding the Grips
To find the different grips you’ll use two key points of your hand and of course your racket. The points are located on your palm -- the base knuckle of your index finger and the heel pad. Now, hold your racket on edge with its head pointing away from you, perpendicular to the ground. If you look at the bottom of the butt cap, you should see that the handle has eight sides, also called bevels. Refer to the top bevel as No. 1, the next one to the right as No. 2 and so on, moving clockwise around the handle -- a total of eight bevels. The two points of your hand will be positioned on one of the bevels according to the grip you are using.
Depending on your style of play, you might use a Continental, Eastern, Semi-Western or Western forehand grip. If you're a lefty and play with a Continental grip, your two hand reference points are on bevel No. 8. Sometimes this grip is called the "chopper" grip -- it's the way you would hold an axe when chopping wood. You can locate the Eastern grip by putting your two hand points on the seventh bevel. This grip is usually taught to beginners because most of the hand is behind the handle for support. If you move your hand counterclockwise to bevel No. 6, you'll be gripping the racket with a Semi-Western grip. The Western, an advanced grip, can be found by putting your hand reference points on bevel No. 5.
As with the forehand, lefties have a few backhand grip choices -- a one-handed or a two-handed. The basic one-handed grip is the Eastern backhand grip. This versatile grip allows you to hit flat or with spin. To locate this grip, simply put your two hand points of the top bevel, No. 1. Although there are several two-handed backhand grip combinations, a standard combination is with your left hand using a Continental and your right hand, positioned higher up on the handle, using an Eastern forehand grip. With the Continental, your left hand reference points are on the eight bevel and the same points on your right hand are on the third bevel.
Serve and Volley Grip
The Continental is the most commonly used grip for hitting serves and volleys. When serving, this grip generates a good wrist snap and allows your forearm to naturally pronate as you make contact with the ball. You can also serve a flat or spin serve with this grip. While at the net hitting volleys and reacting quickly to incoming balls, you don't always have time to switch your grip. With the Continental you can effectively hit forehand and backhand volleys without changing your grip.
- Bollettieri Classic Tennis Handbook; Nick Bollettieri
- Julian Finney/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images