Continental Grip in Tennis
Holding the racket might seem like the easiest part of a tennis game.
After all, how could you possibly hold the racket incorrectly? Very easily is the answer.
Gripping the tennis racket requires a bit more thought than many people initially believe.
Many different grips can be used, for example, to Western, the Semi-Western, the Eastern or the Continental 😊.
All these are slightly different and have their own sets of benefits and drawbacks.
👉 This article will focus on the Continental grip, giving an overview of its origins and then a deeper analysis of how to use it and the differences it can bring to your play.
Table of Contents
Watch free tennis training videos & Get tips from pro players
History of the Continental Grip
Although no exact origin of any grip is found in any book of this sport, prominent English tennis players from the early 1900s are reported to have used a similar grip style to that of the modern Continental Grip, commonly referred to as the ‘English Grip’.
Bill Tilden, the former world number one, claims in his book ‘Racket Making’ that the term Continental Grip first appeared in 1926 and was used as an alternative for the English Grip 🥰.
Considering this, this may be the oldest grip being used in the sport.
This fact is justified by the historical conditions of tennis playing.
The Continental Grip was much more suited to England’s classic fast-paced grassy conditions.
This grip was favored in situations where the ball stayed low and rarely went above knee height.
The Continental Grip was the most popular forehand grip during the 1970s.
Although it was used by most top players in the early 1990s, including John McEnroe, it’s usage soon started to fade as the game was being played on different types of courts and conditions across the world 😊.
When to Use a Continental Grip?
The Continental Grip proves to be very helpful during more fast-paced games.
A player might prefer this style when playing deep, flat shots or when waiting for the opportunity to get a pass nearest to the net.
👉 The following shots are examples of when the Continental Grip can be best adopted.
The Continental Grip is arguably the best grip choice for hitting an effective serve.
A player can easily switch between a flat, slice, or kick with minor adjustments to the original grip.
A flat serve doesn’t include any spin, so a stable, firm hand with the English Grip can help achieve it.
The biggest advantage of this grip is the power that can be generated, which in turn helps with this type of flat, yet very effective serve 😊.
If you want to slice the ball, either by spinning or swinging it, this grip can be easily used to a great advantage.
Although the Continental Grip doesn’t really help create topspin, the Continental Grip can certainly help during serves when the goal is to hit the ball clear of the net.
👉 Here’s a quick tutorial on using the Continental Grip for a serve.
The Continental Grip also helps a great deal when playing at the net.
Net volleys seem easier with a neutral racket face, where it’s possible to cut the ball accurately without any added strain to the wrist.
The type of hit a player uses at the net requires the opponent to wait for the ball to bounce 🥰 before returning it.
This is the essential time for you to get back into a good position, ready for the final winning shot.
The instant backhand return and block on the net are also nicely compatible with this type of grip.
#3. Slice and Drop Shots
The natural hand positioning of the Continental Grip helps with neutralizing and changing the pace of the ball after it contacts the racket.
A softer backhand or forehand takes the pace off the ball and tries to convert it in a slow curve 😊 with a bit of backspin applied to it.
The same applies to the drop shot.
The Continental Grip can be used to execute this challenging shot by taking the opponent off-balance, thus making it very difficult to follow the return.
#4. Defensive Lob
The most vulnerable position a tennis player can be in is when they get very close to the net. This is where it is essential to be very selective with every shot to successfully keep the rally alive.
The defensive lob comes in handy in such conditions and can be executed well with a Continental Grip 🥰.
The player needs to remain vigilant, to give the ball a flight with a little topspin and to pass it over the opponent’s head.
This gives the much-required time to get back into position and play a highly effective, bold shot.
No matter how much we talk about the shots, almost everyone has their own way of gripping and changing the pressure points on the handle.
Having a general idea of how the Continental Grip works can make a player’s life much easier, especially for beginners.
Every coach has their own way of describing the Continental Grip. Some might say ‘pick the racket like soda’ or ‘hold it like a girl’s hand’.
You might even be told to ‘shake hands with your racket’.
It is very important to feel comfortable and natural when gripping the racket.
Still, these little anecdotes can be a very effective way of helping you visualize what to expect from the racket when gripping 👌 it in a certain way.
You can see a visual representation of using this grip for a defensive lob shot.
How to Hold the Continental Grip?
A typical tennis racket has an octagonal-shaped handle, meaning it has 8 sides.
The two longest sides are comparatively longer, the other alternating shorter ones, and the rest are unequal to give a better grip and feel when rotated in the hand.
These uneven sides prevent the racket from slipping in your hand by offering more surface area to grip.
To use the Continental Grip, pick up the racket with its edge parallel to your height.
The short bevel on the top is bevel number 1 😊. The rest can be numbered in any direction.
For a right-handed player, the index finger should be placed in between the second and third edge.
For a left-handed player, the index finger should be between the seventh and eighth edge.
The bottom inner knuckle of your index finger should be on the second and eighth bevel, respectively.
When all set, the top edge of the racket should be between your eye line.
Some players like the index finger going all the way down around two to three edges.
Others like to have the finger a little raised so as to have better control of the rotation and rebound, but there are no ideal criteria.
Everyone has their own adaptation of the typical Continental Grip.
You can have a bottom grip or a somewhat higher grip, but it all comes down to what seems more controlled and easy-going 🥰 for the individual.
Why Use the Continental Grip?
The Continental Grip has many advantages, as well as a few disadvantages.
The salience of these points will vary according to the individual, but it is safe to say that the benefits far outweigh any negative aspects.
👉 The following points are a few of the reasons why using the Continental Grip is favorable:
- If you are a beginner and want to develop your style of play, you should start with this type of grip.
- If you are trying to take your basic shots to the next level of accuracy, then the Continental Grip acts as a very good starting point.
- If your natural gameplay is a little laid-back and you prefer shots that are slightly more defensive than hard-hitting, this grip position is ideal
- If you are more of a backhand player who tends to slide the ball, the Continental Grip might potentially be the best option
- The Continental Grip offers an excellent disguise if you execute the shots properly with it.
- It helps a lot in drop shots, which help break your opponent’s momentum and focus 😊.
Why Avoid the Continental Grip?
Although there are many benefits to using this grip, it is also important to consider the downfalls of it, allowing for a much better understanding of the grip.
- If you are on the defensive end and want to handle groundstroke topspin shots, the Continental Grip might not be the first choice.
- If you are playing on a harder surface, this grip might not be ideal
- The Continental Grip doesn’t help generate much power, so can be argued as unsuitable for modern gameplay.
- Being close to the body, this grip makes it harder to get to the ball by causing a slight delay.
👉 Now that all the possible consequences of using the Continental Grip have been discussed, let’s see what you can do to improve the classic.
Every Tennis Grip entirely depends on the hand’s position on the handle of the racket.
The Hypothenar Eminence, which is the group of muscles in your palm, is comprised of small muscles from your little finger to the index.
The Hypothenar Eminence determines the wellness of any grip.
Where you put the Hypothenar Eminence, will be your reference point, will prove vital in understanding the continental grip.
To do this, place your dominant hand on the ground, with your palm side down.
Now rotate it with the back facing the ground and loot at your palm 🥰.
From the base knuckle of the little finger, start going down towards the elbow.
You should find it at a right angle between the bottom knuckle of your little finger and the bottom of your thumb.
You must be able to feel a small bump towards the left of your palm if it’s your right hand, and on the right side if it’s your left
Place this part of your hand in between the first two edges.
Now let the other fingers get in a comfortable and stable position 😊.
Once you get the feel of the handle. The rest must come naturally to you.
Now take a ball and start tapping it with the edge downward.
If you are feeling super confident, do this on the upper edge and keep it in the air as long as you can.
The Final Verdict
For a novice tennis player who has just started taking up the game, this article will prove to be a very big help when first learning how to use the Continental Grip 🥰.
Many different types of shots can be successfully executed using this grip, so it is an important one to master.
It is important to note it will always be a slight challenge to learn the nuances between the different grips.
The Continental Grip requires a little more time to get used to, so patience is a necessity.
The best thing to do is take your time and use this grip during every practice exercise until it starts to feel very familiar and easier.
The more time you give to learning and playing with a certain grip, the more you get used to it, because your body has more chance to adapt to that wrist position.
Practice is key, and with every passing session, using this grip will feel much easier and more manageable 😊.