Get a Grip! Your Pickleball Grip & Proper Sizing
The Differences Between The Pickleball Grips
Your pickleball grip position refers to how you hold the paddle while playing. How you grip the paddle determines how the ball will react off the paddle face. Certain grips will enhance spin or slice on the ball or make it easier to hit forehand / backhand shots.
You can also devise a strategy of play to your advantage depending on your opponent’s grip.
Continental Pickleball Grip:
(Right handed - Index knuckle on the #2 edge / Left handed - Index Knuckle on the #8 edge). The Index finger is above the thumb and the butt of the paddle grip sits in the heel pad. Also called the Hammer grip.
The Continental pickleball grip is perfect for players who want to keep their grips the same for both forehands and backhands. It is the best all around grip but master of none.
It is the perfect grip for beginners to start with because it keeps things simple and there is no worrying about grip changes during play.
However, as you advance you may find it challenging to hit spin on the ball with a continental grip, especially when the ball is below the net line. Look to the Eastern Forehand or Backhand grips to increase the spin revolutions on the ball.
If you are playing someone who always uses a continental grip their weak spot is on the forehand side from hip to shoulder close to the body. It is tough to get the paddle in position to return or hit a ball in this area.
Eastern Forehand Pickleball Grip:
(Right handed - Index knuckle on the #3 edge / Left handed - Index Knuckle on the #7 edge) The Index finger is above the thumb and the butt of the paddle grip sits in the heel pad. Originally called the Shake hand grip.
The Eastern Forehand is for the advancing player looking to get a bit more spin on their forehand shots.
Hold your paddle in the non-dominant hand, place your dominant hand on the paddle face and slide the hand to the handle to “shake hands”. You will notice the paddle face is more closed and angled down towards the court more. Now when you are hitting the ball on the forehand side you are more able to brush up on the back of the ball and impart more spin. Be sure to swing from low to high on the ball and aim slightly higher to get the ball over the net and dip down on the other side.
For more even more spin you can look at the Semi western grip (Right handed - knuckle on #4 edge / left handed - knuckle on the #6 edge). This is for more advanced players though.
When playing an opponent who has just used an Eastern Forehand you should aim for their backhand side. It will be tough for them to quickly switch grips. Be cautious though - some players can compensate for their weak backhand by using a double-handed backhand grip.
Eastern Backhand Pickleball Grip:
(Right handed - Index knuckle on the #1 edge / Left handed - Index Knuckle on the #1 edge). The Index finger is above the thumb and the butt of the paddle grip sits in the heel pad.
In this configuration the wrist is in a very stable position to hit a natural backhand with spin as well as spin / slice on volleys as you advance to the net.
To achieve maximum spin be sure to swing from low to high as well as aim higher over the net to get the ball over the net.
To achieve even more spin check out the Semi-Western Backhand (Index knuckle on the #8 edge).
Typically you want to have a loose grip on your paddle. Don’t do the “Death Grip”. If you are tight the wrist, arm, shoulder are all tight as well and won’t swing as easily through the stroke.
Hand position on grip:
This is personal preference. Players looking for more control can “choke” up on the handle and closer to the paddle face so they can quickly and easily change paddle direction. Players looking for more power should grip lower down on the handle, creating a longer lever and thus more power.
Firm up your wrist:
Playing with a firm or locked wrist will help you control the ball. Too much wrist action creates too many variables (force, angle, etc) and it is harder to get consistent results from your strokes especially on dinks and kitchen shots.
How To Measure A Paddle Grip Size
There are two main ways to measure for pickleball paddle grip size, which are:
Index Finger Test:
This is a very accurate method of measuring a paddle grip size, but it requires you to use a paddle to test. The perfect grip to use for an index finger test is the eastern grip. Once you have your hand in the appropriate eastern grip position on the paddle, slide the index finger of your other hand down through the palm and middle finger of the hand on the paddle.
If it runs through smoothly without encountering any difficulty, then the paddle grip is perfect for you. However, the space that the index finger runs through should not be too broad because if there’s too much space between your middle finger and palm, it means the grip isn’t quite the right size. Playing with such a paddle will affect your gameplay and may even cause wrist pain after playing for a long time.
The Ruler Test:
This measurement can be quickly done because it doesn’t require a paddle. All you need is a ruler to accurately measure the gap between the tip of your middle finger and your palm’s bottom lateral crease.
Place the ruler carefully on your palm, such that it aligns with your middle finger with the end of the ruler laying perfectly on the center palm crease. Usually, the length measure ranges between 4-5 inches.
Why You Should Choose A Paddle With The Perfect Grip
Using the right grip size will not only provide you with comfort while playing the game, it will also help your game performance, and reduce the chance of injuries.
A grip size that is too small may result in injuries to your hand, wrist, and arm due to the additional energy you will need to exert to hold the paddle firmly. A small grip size may also cause the paddle to slip from your hand regularly.
On the other hand, a grip that is too large will cause more stress to your hand because you will struggle to keep your hand comfortably placed around the paddle grip. It may also be challenging to switch grips easily during a game when the grip size is too large.
If you ever have to choose between a large or small grip size, it is advisable to opt for the small grip size because that does give you the option of building it up to a better size with an overgrip.
Pickleball is a great game that’s a ton of fun to play, and to get the most out of it you should make sure that your equipment is right for your body and play-style. Interested in our grips? You can find some in our pickleball grips collection here: Pickleball Grips
We also provide re-gripping services which you can find out more about here: Stringing Services
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