Semi Western Tennis Grip
Get a complete overview of the semi western grip. This article will act as a go-to guide to help you learn how to effectively use this grip.
You will also discover the main advantages and disadvantages of using the semi western grip.
Table of Contents
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Exploring the Semi Western Grip
The semi western forehand grip is one of the three most used tennis grips used for holding a racket while hitting a forehand. It has risen in popularity over recent years.
How to Hold a Semi Western Grip
To form the semi western grip, a right-handed player will have to place the palm side of their index finger’s knuckle against the fourth bevel, whereas a left-handed player will have to do it against the sixth bevel.
Beginners might feel awkward at first using the Semi Western tennis grip
The following steps will help you understand how to hit and play tennis well using the Semi Western forehand grip:
Step 1: The Grip
The way the racket is held is important for having a successful forehand.
The grip transfers the impact from the ball, contacting the racket strings to your hand, and therefore helps you handle it accordingly.
The most common mistake a player makes is to hold the hand perpendicular to the handle, where the racket cannot be supported properly due to the index finger not being spread out.
This technique makes the racket head feel heavy, and to control it, the player will tense up the wrist muscles.
When using the grip correctly, the fingers are spread out slightly so that the player can see the index finger under the racket .
Step 2: The Ready Position & State
After the grip is set, the ready position must be assumed.
Simply standing and remaining in one place does not make a player truly “ready” for the game.
In a ready state, the player should be moving, almost like a little dance.
This can be shifting from one foot to another or performing mini-split steps, but it’s essential to be doing something.
This is because movement helps you move faster with your first step, especially when landing into a split step.
Also, it allows for faster reactions because body movement helps keep the mind more alert .
Step 3: The Preparation
As the game starts, when you see the ball coming to your forehand side, you should turn to the side instead of moving the arm too much and traveling backwards.
You should also prepare your racket, mostly with your non-racket holding hand.
When turning to the side, the right hand essentially rests on the racket, whereas your left arm does all the work preparing.
When preparing the Semi Western grip correctly, the racket face and non-dominant hand should point to the side.
The wrist of the hitting hand should remain just below the height of your shoulder, and the arm should be slightly bent.
Step 4: The Drop
Right from the preparation phase, the racket must be allowed to drop, with the face pointing downwards, so gravity can assist with accelerating the racket .
This maneuver helps relax the wrist completely before quickly bringing the racket forward.
The key to mastering it is to drop the racket in the direction of the back edge.
When this is done well, the wrist is almost laid back, and it falls into the exact position it must be in relation to the forearm when contacting the ball.
The most important part of this drop-on-the-edge technique is to let the racket drop fully as soon as the wrist starts turning, and then gradually take over and accelerate it .
Step 5: The Acceleration
Once you go through the preparation and the tipping point, you start releasing the racket on the edge.
As gravity takes over, the acceleration of the racket kicks in.
For the racket to start accelerating or the arm to start moving forward, there must be a little but if a lag at first.
The next thing that should happen here is the hips should begin rotating when the arm starts to drop.
This action creates a “stretch” effect in the forearm, which will help effortlessly accelerate the racket head into the ball.
Step 6: The Swing Path
As the racket starts to accelerate forward, it must be steered into the right swing path that will help with controlling the ball well .
The swing path should be a straight line both before and after contact because by swinging in a straight line, you can ensure your racket head is directing the ball towards your intended target, even if you hit the ball slightly too late or too early.
Step 7: Contact & Extension
Now that you have reached the ball in your swing, you have to contact the ball. If you want to apply some control to the ball, you have to spin it a little .
To obtain this spin, it is better to roll the ball instead of brushing up against it.
When approaching the ball with the racket, if you only brush it with an upwards motion, the ball doesn’t really get any forward force and ends up short.
The compress and roll approach allows an exaggerated way of hitting the ball.
Step 8: The Follow-Through
Up until this moment, you have been directing the ball, as well as extending through the contact zone.
Now you need to finish off your stroke with the follow-through.
On the forehand, it’s advisable to catch the racket with the left hand somewhere above the shoulder because when you do so, your left arm and your left shoulder will naturally move out of the way.
The most common mistake players make on the forehand follow-through is their left arm just drops dead, and their right arm ends up acting alone .
Consequently, the shoulders tend to fight each other, meaning they effectively block each other, and the hitting arm cannot swing easily through the ball.
Beneﬁts of the Semi Western Grip?
- The primary benefit of the Semi Western grip is that it allows the player to produce a nice topspin.
- With this grip, the angle of the racket face is either closed or pointed towards the ground , meaning that upon swinging and contacting the ball, it becomes much easier to brush up and over the top of a tennis ball to generate topspin.
- Players using a Semi Western grip can hit the ball much higher over the net.
- They can also ensure the ball drops back into the court, because of the topspin generated.
- This essentially permits the player to hit more aggressively and with a higher margin for error.
What are the Drawbacks of the Semi Western Grip?
- It can sometimes become challenging for the players to transition quickly from a forehand to a volley. However, through practice, they can easily overcome this drawback.
- It can also become difficult for the players to hit an extremely low ball only a few inches above the ground, because this grip forces a player to hit over and under the ball to generate that topspin.
- However, over time, most players get used to hitting a low ball or adjust their grip accordingly for that particular shot.
Should you Use the Semi Western Forehand Grip?
There is no such thing as a “perfect” grip in tennis.
A grip that some players may find comfortable using might make another one uncomfortable.
However, it is worth practicing the Semi Western grip, as it allows you to win points and stay ahead of the game consistently.
This grip offers a greater pace and fantastic spin opportunities. It is somewhere in between the Eastern and the Western grip, where the natural contact point lies between the waist and shoulder .
Furthermore, by using this grip, you can easily join the players who are hitting the ball with increased topspin in the modern game.
However, it is advisable to work with a tennis coach and have them assess you to provide you with specific instructions.
You could easily have one of our top players help you with this.
Lastly, using the Western or Semi Western grip results in fewer wrist injuries, and usually, ulnar-sided injuries are actually more frequently associated with these two grips.
A cross-sectional study of 370 nonprofessional division III and IV tennis players shows that only 13% reported injuries to the wrist, of which only 8.1% were found to have extensor carpi ulnaris lesions.
Other Grips in Tennis?
In tennis, the grip is used to describe how a player holds the racket to hit the shots during a match.
During a match, most players prefer to change their grips, depending on the type of shot they are hitting, and this can be a very effective way of keeping the game dynamic and interesting.
How is the Handle of a Racket Designed?
Before knowing the different types of grips, it’s necessary to become well acquainted with the handle of a racket.
Every handle is octagonal, thus having 8 sides, which are called bevels 😇.
Each bevel is numbered, and the bevel that faces upwards when the blade of the racket is held perpendicular to the ground is bevel number 1.
For a right-handed player, when you rotate the racket clockwise, the next bevel that faces up is bevel number 2.
For a left-handed player, you have to rotate it counter-clockwise. This way, all 8 bevels can be identified. The octagonal design of the racket allows a better grip of the handle and prevents slipping while hitting.
What are the Different Types of Forehand Grips?
#1. Eastern Grip
The Eastern grip allows for a good combination of power and spins when using the forehand.
You have to lay your dominant hand out with your palm facing upwards to use this grip.
Then, you have to place the racket in your hand, keeping the strings facing up.
Close your hand around the grip, and you will be left using the Eastern grip for your forehand .
When in the ready position, your palm should be on the side of the grip, and the strings should also be facing the side.
In previous years, this type of forehand grip used to be the most common type of grip in tennis.
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#2. Semi Western Grip
Currently, the most common forehand grip in tennis is the Semi Western Grip, which helps generate more spin compared to an Eastern grip .
To use this grip, put your palm on the right side of the grip and rotate your palm one-eighth of the way around the racket, towards the base of the grip.
This grip can be considered the go-to grip for beginner-level tennis players who are still trying to develop their groundstrokes.
#3. Full Western Grip
The Full Western Grip is fairly difficult for recreational tennis players, as it requires heavy practice to perfect this grip and use it efficiently.
This grip requires excellent timing and precision and is also designed to be the grip that provides the most spin.
To use it, get a grip on the side of the racket, hold it at the neck with your left hand while facing your strings down.
Using this grip, when you contact the ball on your forehand, your palm should face up, and your hand ☺️ should be underneath the racket.
To conclude, there is no such thing as a “perfect” grip in tennis.
Every individual is built differently, therefore, each forehand grip is more likely to feel different for every single player.
However, the Semi Western grip can be an ideal starting point for players, as it isn’t too conservative nor overly extreme.
Although it might take some time to perfect this grip, if you can work with a tennis instructor, they can help you work through the process more efficiently ☺️.
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Review by Marc Peppin – Won 40+ International Titles – Canadian #1