Photo Tour of the One-Handed Backhand Grips

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Full Eastern Backhand Grip

Full Eastern Backhand Grip

The Full Eastern backhand grip (sometimes confused with Western or Semi-Western: see below) centers your palm on the top plane of your racquet handle. (To place your palm on a given plane of your handle, place the base knuckle of your index finger on that plane.) This grip offers the most solid support for the racquet, whether you're hitting topspin or slice, but it requires a point of contact well in front of your body, which causes some players to meet the ball too late. Such players often find the Eastern (sometimes called Modified Eastern) grip a little easier.

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(Modified) Eastern Backhand Grip

(Modified) Eastern Backhand Grip

The Eastern (sometimes called Modified Eastern) grip centers your palm on the right edge of the top plane, just slightly clockwise of the Full Eastern. Compared to the Full Eastern, this grip is a bit less solid for topspin but equally good for a slice. It allows a point of contact several inches farther back than the Full Eastern, and for many players, that little bit of extra time makes it significantly easier.

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Continental Backhand Grip

Continental Backhand Grip

The Continental grip places your palm on the upper right slant bevel, 45 degrees clockwise from the Full Eastern. This makes the racquet face tend to tilt upward, which is appropriate for hitting a slice. Hitting flat backhands with the Continental is fairly easy despite the weaker support of the racquet handle, and you can meet the ball through a wider range of points of contact, either farther back than you could with either Eastern grip, which gives you more time to prepare your shot, or as far forward as Eastern, which gives you more power than you would get farther back. Meeting the ball with a Continental grip at an Eastern point of contact requires a slightly awkward wrist position, though. The big drawback of the Continental grip is its limited suitability for hitting topspin, but many advanced players, including some pros, like to slice most backhands anyway, so Continental backhands are still fairly common.

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Semi-Western Backhand Grip

Semi-Western Backhand Grip

The Semi-Western backhand grip centers your palm on the ridge between the top plane and the upper left slant bevel, counterclockwise from the Full Eastern, with which it is sometimes confused. Designed for hitting heavy topspin, it's awkward for flat shots and even more awkward for a slice. The Semi-Western backhand also requires a point of contact several inches farther forward than the Full Eastern. All of these limitations account for its rarity.

The Full Western backhand grip (not pictured) centers your palm on the upper left slant bevel. The few players who use it switch grips to hit anything but topspin.