An Overview & Guide to the Continental Grip

How to Hold the Grip

If you’re new to tennis, one of the first grips your instructor will teach you is the continental grip. It’s the one grip that virtually all tennis players use for their serves and volleys.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the continental tennis grip, how you should hold it, and why it’s useful to have in your arsenal.

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The Continental Grip

Back in the day, when dresses and pants were common on the tennis court, the continental grip was the predominant grip among tennis players for all tennis shots.

The continental grip was convenient in that players didn’t have to change their grip as they moved from stroke to stroke. However, the grip was extremely limiting because players could generate little or no topspin when hitting.

While it’s hard to imagine using this grip for groundstrokes, it was appropriate for the times considering the available racquet and ball technology as well as grass serving as the dominant court surface.

Of course, as the game of tennis evolved and play became more aggressive, the continental grip became less popular for groundstrokes, but it’s still the gold standard for many tennis shots.

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Holding the Continental Grip

When you first learn the continental grip, you’ll likely receive instruction to “shake hands with the racquet,” or to “hold the racquet like it’s a hammer,” to form the proper grip.

Nine times out of 10, these suggestions will get you pretty darn close to the correct grip. Perhaps more important, these sayings provide new players an easy way to remember the grip.

However, to get more specific, it can be helpful to recognize that tennis racquet handles form an octagon. More specifically, the racquet handle has eight sides or bevels, just like a stop sign.

If we label each bevel of the racquet handle, as we’ve done in the diagram below, we can easily find the continental grip. If you’re right-handed, place the palm side of your index finger’s knuckle against the second bevel, or if you’re left-handed against the eighth bevel.

In many cases, especially after you’ve been playing with a continental grip for a while, you may notice that raising your index finger about ¼ to ½ inch up the handle can provide more control and stability when moving the racquet.

Why Is The Continental Grip So Effective?

One of the main reasons the continental grip is so effective lies in the angle of the tennis racquet when holding the grip.

When you change grips, what you’re really changing is the angle of the face of your racquet when you’re hitting the ball.

With the continental grip, the angle of the tennis racquet is neutral, which means the frame of the racquet when you hold it in front of you is perpendicular to the ground.

An open racquet face angles up toward the sky, while a closed racquet face angles toward the ground, such as with a semi-western forehand grip.

Ultimately, this neutral angle affords players a significant amount of flexibility when hitting different types of tennis shots.

Tennis Shots Using The Continental Grip

The continental grip is easily the most versatile in tennis, as it can be used for a wide range of tennis shots. While it’s common for serves and volleys, it’s also the ideal grip for half volleys, overheads, slice, and chip shots.

On your serve, you can use the continental grip with its neutral racquet face to hit either a kick serve, which involves hitting up on the ball to generate spin, or a slice serve, by brushing the side of the ball. The same is true for hitting overheads.

Similarly, the continental grip is handy for volleys because it allows you to block the tennis ball back with a racquet face that can easily be adjusted slightly open to ensure you don’t dump the ball in the net or pop the ball up in the air.

The continental grip is also crucial for volleys, as it allows players to hit a forehand or a backhand volley without changing their grip. This ability to quickly transition from side to side can be critical, as things happen quickly at the net, leaving you with very little time to react.

Lastly, the continental grip is excellent for slice and chip shots, as the neutral racquet face allows you to hit slightly under the ball to generate backspin.

Should I Use a Continental Grip?

Yes, without a doubt. If you’re looking to develop your game, it’s essential to take the time to become familiar with the continental grip, as it is fundamental to many shots in tennis.

However, it’s not a recommended grip for hitting a forehand. It’s challenging to generate topspin with a continental grip, so you’ll want to introduce yourself to the eastern, semi-western or western tennis grip for your forehand.

Have questions about the continental tennis grip? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to help!

Photo Credit: FedererFan07

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2 replies
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hello there Dennis! Welcome to the world of tennis and congratulations on checking it off your bucket list – that’s super exciting!! ???

      I’m glad you found the articles helpful and appreciate the kind words. Good luck and if you have any questions along your journey in learning our sport please join us again. We’d love to hear from you and your progress.

      ~All the best, Jon


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