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Hardscrabble Scramble
May 2000 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Do You Have A Skillet Grip?

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

Many players today use a semi-western or western grip for their forehand. This is a great grip to generate topspin and handle high balls. You will see many of the tour professionals use this grip to perfection. It is great to watch a player rip baseline groundies with heavy topspin and drive an opponent crazy. However, this isn't always a wise choice for a service grip. We jokingly refer to it as the skillet grip on the serve!

In my opinion, the most important shot in tennis is the serve. You may have a powerful forehand but you will only have the opportunity to hit it on receiving games if you can't make your serve. What good is a weapon if you don't get to hit it! Many players at the beginning level use the semi-western or western grip. Although this might be comfortable and give you plenty of power, it will make it easier for your opponent to see the type of serve you are going to hit and it also usually limits you to only a flat serve. Learning to hit a continental grip on the serve will still allow you to hit a flat serve but also will allow the wrist to move properly to hit different spins. Since you will have a bigger arsenal of serves with a continental grip, it will be tougher for your opponent to decide which you will be hitting.

It can sometimes be difficult for a player to make a change in their game especially when it concerns something major such as a grip change. It will take some time to use the continental grip but you will be happier in the long run I think. Each grip in the game has its advantages and disadvantages. Changing grips for different shots allows you to benefit from these advantages. Being able to place a spin and flat serve with a continental grip is a huge advantage and an integral part of the game. In addition, you'll keep your friends from calling you skillet grip. Give the continental grip a try on the serve and see if you can learn to fry those serves!

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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