Tennis Grips: The Key To An Awesome Tennis Backhand And Tennis Forehand (Video)

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Last modified on Saturday, 18 May 2013 10:12

      In this segment, we have accomplished tennis player Phil Whitesell going over advanced tennis strategy and technique. Phil Whitesell graduated from the University of Southern California where he helped his team to three NCAA tennis championships in 1991, 1993 and 1994. Some of his teammates included Byron and Wayne Black, both of whom held a top 50 singles ranking in the world and who held the number one ranking in in the world in doubles. Whitesell is no stranger to the game of tennis, having played in the main draw satellite, challenger, and qualifications for the ATP tour events, where he maintained a world ranking. Whitesell coached on the women’s professional tennis tournament from 1995-98 and worked with Brenda Shultz-McCarthy, who was a top 10 player of the world. Whitesell coached division one college tennis at College of Charleston for over 6 years. Two as an assistant and then six years as the head coach. He also is nationally recognize for his success in beach tennis. Whitesell coached Meredith McGrath, who made it to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Phil discusses the proper strategy and technique needed for successfully executing an offensive attack towards the net. Keep checking back for more advanced instructional videos, tutorials, workouts, and interviews as we show you what it takes to play at the professional level in tennis!



 Tennis Video Transcription: 

So, there's three different really major strokes right now. You've got the octagon on the bottom of the rackets, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. So, I'm going to teach you the Eastern grip first of all. My big knuckle is on the number two, so kind of the line there if you can see that. My big knuckle is on the two, and as you can see, when I hold the racket, my racket isn't held like a sledgehammer or a hammer. It's held with my knuckle slanted downward, so this was where Sampras was, Sampras is one of the best players in the world. When he hit the ball, the ball was in the plane a little bit more, and as he made contact, his racket was a little bit underneath the ball, and then he would brush up over the ball to make the top spin.

Now, you've got Federer. Actually, I'm going to show you four different grips. Federer is in between two and three here, so he drops the racket so he is in between Eastern and semi-Western. He drops the racket a little bit more, so when he makes contact, he's going to have a little bit more spin than a Sampras shot. Also, the ball is going to clear the net more. All right, and Sampras' follow-through, sorry for going backwards here, is going to be a little bit more right here where the shoulder is. Federer is going to come up a little bit more over the shoulder. Then, we go to Agassi, where he's on number three, and then he drops his racket head even a little bit more, so he produces more spin and clears the net a little bit more, and his follow-through is different. He comes all the way up, and the racket hits him right between the shoulder blades.

 Now, you've got where Nadal is, Nadal's almost on number six, he's almost on the opposite side. That's full Western grip and when he makes contact, his elbow actually does not fully extend. Now, he really drops the racket head, so when he makes contact, that ball has got a lot more heavy spin when he's making contact, plus the ball goes over the net a lot higher. He's got even higher margin for error, and when the ball bounces, it's going to kick up more. When he follows through, he actually follows through on the same side of his body. He does not come up above his shoulder or his back and makes contact with the racket with his body, but actually follows through right here.

The advantages and disadvantages; with the Nadal grip, the most spin compared to Sampras. The ball is going to kick up and get out of the strike zone more, so that's more conducive to a clay court, which is very difficult to take a ball on the rise. So he'll back you up, back you up, work you, it's kind of like a body blow, body blow, body blow, and then goes for the knock-out. Whereas Sampras, his ball is going to penetrate more so that's going to be more conducive for a grass court. That's why he did so well at Wimbledon, I think he won six in a row. His ball kind of skids when it hits, so again that ball is going right through so his knock- out punch is going to be a little bit quicker with that forehand, and that's really basically it.

Now, for the serve. You've got three different types of serves. When you're making contact, you want to make sure that you pronate out at point of contact. Now, the grip for most guys on the serve is going to be at number one, all right, where the octagon is, so grip set at number one and you can hit three different types of serves. You can either hit at the slicer, so again, you snap over the ball at the point of contact and it slides out and away from your opponent or into their body.

The next serve is the kick serve. You're going to go from 7:00, if you have a clock, 7:00 to 2:00 and then come through with a follow-through out in front of the body, so your follow-through is actually out in front. You don't go around the left side of your body if you're a righty. Now, the flat serve, you're going to pronate a point of contact, but you're going to flatten it out. So, you're not going to hit any slice, any kick, but completely hit a flat pronating shot, and when you hit that ball, you're going to come right through like you're putting a Samurai sword into its sheath. You want to really come through on that on that shot, so these are all the different grips.

And then, your volley grips are also on number one. Basically, you're only going to have two different grips. You're going to have the service grip which is also the volley grip, which is also the backhand grip. Then, you're going to have your forehand grip which could be anywhere from an Eastern to semi-Western to full Western grip.

The grips, here you go, you've got Eastern which is Sampras' grip, and then you've got in between Eastern and semi-Western, which is Federer's grip, and then you've got semi-Western which is on number three, which is Agassi's grip. Then you've got Nadal who's all the way down between, let me see here, one, two, three, four, five, so he's in between four and five, so he's way down here.

I would break my wrist if I tried to hit a ball like that, but again, even when I play, my racket will go more Western on the clay because I'm trying to hit more spin, and when I play on faster courts, my forehand grip will actually move a little bit more to where I'm hitting more Eastern. Actually at my older age, I find I'm hitting more Eastern because my ball doesn't penetrate as much.


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