Recently we posted a video with Glen Peterson discussing how he holds his paddle. We thought we would dive into a more detailed discussion on the topic.
While this quick video is a great guide for pickleball players of all skill levels to consider, it is important to fully understand the different aspects of how the way you hold your paddle affects your shots so that you can make a choice that best compliments your game. In this post we discuss grip types and grip pressure so that you can continue to progress as a pickleball player.
While there are many variations, grip type is typically broken down into Continental and Eastern. These two grips are the most popular because they hold the paddle in a neutral position that allows you to hit both forehand and backhand shots without changing the position of your hand on the paddle. As Glen discussed in the video above, the majority of advanced players have started to drift towards the Eastern grip that he displays in the video.
The Continental grip may likely be how you first picked up a paddle, and is a great choice for beginners. To visually understand this grip, think of picking up a hammer, with the edge of your paddle being the mallet on the end that you strike a nail with. Holding your paddle like this situates the paddle neutrally in your hand, giving you great control near the net, but making it slightly more difficult to hit passes and drives from the baseline.
Often described as “shaking hands” with the paddle, the Eastern grip shifts the paddle slightly in your hand to allow you to add power to both your forehand and backhand shots. Basically, you rotate your hand slightly clockwise as a righty, or slightly counterclockwise as a lefty, to hold the third bevel instead of the second bevel of the handle. This grip provides a little leverage and positioning that will help you impart power and spin on the ball.
For a more detailed dive into these grip styles, check out our previous blog on Continental vs Eastern Grip - PickleballCentral.com
Regardless of your preferred grip style, you have the option to either extend your index finger up onto the paddle, or leave it wrapped around the handle with the rest of your hand. Again, it is a matter of preference that you can experiment with to find what feels most comfortable and best suits your playing style.
Placing your index finger on the edge of the paddle or even on the lower part of the hitting surface locks your wrist in place, much like a golf grip. The result is a cohesive lever from your elbow down that helps you be more precise with drop shots, resets, and dinks, but gives you a bit less leverage for drives. Also, with the index finger placed up the back of paddle face, occasionally when hitting backhand shots the ball might bounce off the finger causing a potential miss-hit or discomfort, but this doesn't happen very often.
Situating your hand lower on the handle and wrapping your index finger around the grip does the opposite of the finger up grip and lets you manipulate your wrist more. This wrist manipulation helps add leverage to your drives, allowing you to put more power and spin on your shots, making it a great choice for power shots.
Another variable in pickleball grips is grip pressure. As players progress in their pickleball skills, they typically discover that altering grip pressure depending on the type of shot can help with successful execution. For example, when hitting serves and powerful drives, holding the paddle with a firmer grip helps engage more of your arm and overall strength to deliver a more powerful shot. By contrast, when playing at the net and hitting softer dink shots or blocking drives your opponent may be delivering, holding the paddle with a softer grip (around 50% of full tightness) helps to deflect your opponent's power and pace, and allows you to respond with a softer shot. Exploring how grip pressure affects shot execution is an important step in improving one's pickleball skills.
Now that you understand the different grip styles and how they can help your game, it's time to head out to the courts and experiment! Whether you are using the tape method from our video above or simply moving the paddle around in your hand throughout a session, you should be able to find a comfortable grip that helps you excel.