As a player, and a coach for that matter, I was always told that so called extreme grips such as
‘western’ forehand grips should be outlawed and discouraged as soon as possible.
Even the semi western was taboo before players such as Borg, Wilander and Agassi made them
won majors and because of that the ‘grip bigots’ had to concede their point to these rising
You see, the
one quality that sets a champion’s mind set from the others is that they are totally resilient.
Sure they take advice, but in the end they do what’s right for them.
qualified as a coach in the mid 1990s, I had (and still have I might add) a semi western forehand grip, I may
even slip round to a full western on shoulder height balls which I can ‘rip’ as a favourite shot.
Yet I was
told by my tutor, that I had a ‘grip problem’, and would have to change in order to pass! Eastern with
occasional semi western grip would only be acceptable. I was told that these grips would never work on
So I limped
through the course feeling very unsure of my forehand when I was happy before.
enough, I was also told and I’ve heard this advice on a recent coaching DVD that players with semi western grips
should never have a shoulder follow through.
was….semi/full western grips + shoulder finishes + grass = failure. They only work on clay. Oh and they can hurt
your volley game!
watch this video and please notice the grip plus the finish.
Who has just
won Wimbledon? Oh and who did he play in the final? Thankfully, Novak and Rafa didn’t have the same
amongst the bigots is that the extreme forehands have too much spin and will land short in the service box and
therefore be attacked.
Novak had multiple rallies when their forehands landed inside the service box. Even Federer does. But you have
to maintain your acceleration to make sure that the ball ‘kicks’ deep when this happens.
To be honest
with you, a slow three quarter ball is more attackable than a fizzing service box ball.
The Importance of footwork and movement – work your heart out!
However, Rafa and Nole are two of the greatest movers on the court in the game at the moment,
and if you do hit with a lot of spin then you could be drawn into a lot of rallies. Which means
that you will need plenty in the tank.
Work on your endurance and mobility training to enable you to not only defend against the
bigger hitters but also to wear your opponents down into making forced and unforced
So, having an extreme grip does NOT necessarily mean that you can’t hit winners! Nor that you
can’t win on grass? Nor that you can’t volley properly.
Some people advise against these grips purely on the basis because they consider them
Many players adapt their grips depending on the situation anyway.
If they are lunging for a low bouncing ball, a player may even adopt an eastern or even
continental grip to loft the ball.
Be flexible and remember to do what’s right for you.
Andy Magrath (Pictured right)
Andy Magrath is the Head MTI Tutor. He has tutored all over the world and coached county and
national players whilst mentoring many young coaches. He has also co authored the book; ‘Tennis
Strokes and Tactics. A former county swimmer, he is also a dan grade in