The Eastern Forehand Grip Ultimate Guide

Used by the likes of Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer, there’s no doubt the Eastern forehand grip is one of the best ways to grip a racket.

It’s that good; the grip helped Roger Federer go on to become the world’s most decorated tennis player, winning 20 grand slam championships in his career.

And although a difficult grip to master, once perfected, you’ll see your ability to hit flat and powerful shots improve drastically.

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the Eastern forehand grip specifics, its pros and cons, its application, and of course, how to properly apply this grip.

We’ll also compare it to other grips and how it might be better to help you smash aces over the net.

What types of grips are there?

A tennis grip is essentially how you hold your tennis racket.

Your hand’s positioning on the racket will change the way you impact withe ball and the different shots you can play during a match. 

There are many different types of grips: Western grip, Semi-Western, Continental grip, and Eastern grip. 

Starting at the top, the Continental grip sees a player grip the racket with their knuckles almost facing horizontally up at them. This grip has grown out of fashion in recent times, with players like Rod laver and Margaret Court using the grip on the grass courts of old.

As rackets and player skills developed, the Eastern grip came to fruition. Here your knuckles are rotated around to align with the side of the racket. This means you can swipe your racket through the ball at a lower trajectory, allowing you to hit driving shots at your opponent. 

As you rotate your hand clockwise further around the racket, pushing your knuckles to the bottom of the racket, you start to form a western grip. This allows players to get greater topspin on the ball. Take a look at how Serena Williams hits her shots. 

Compared to other grips, the Eastern grip places the least amount of strain on your wrist and gives you greater ability to hit through shots at power.

Eastern Forehand Grip History

Also known as the ‘handshake grip,’ the Eastern has notoriously been used by players wanting to give more power than spin to their forehands. When using this kind of grip, the base stance allows you to hit the tennis ball with more force without breaking a sweat.

According to the New York Times, Bill Tilden was widely known for inventing the Eastern grip in the 1920s. 

But along came eleven-time grand slam winner Bjorn Borg. In the 1970s, Borg revolutionized the Eastern forehand grip by aggressively hitting the ball harder and faster than his opponents. 

Borg was able to add more topspin on the ball compared to his opponents, who still used the old-fashioned Continental grip. Stunning opponents with his power, pace, and spin, Bjorg was able to crush opponents with this new grip and etched his way into tennis history books.

How Do You Hold An Eastern Forehand Grip?

To execute forehands with the Eastern grip, place the base-knuckle of your index finger on bevel three and close your hand on the racket handle.

Don’t keep your grip too tight, as you’ll find the more flex you have in your wrist, the more spin and whip you’ll be able to get on your shots.

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For first time players, this grip should feel really comfortable and quite natural compared to a Western grip, where players would reach around to bevel four or bevel five. 

The Eastern grip is the simplest to learn, especially for beginners, since it fits naturally with the shape and formation of your wrist.

Benefits Of The Eastern Forehand Grip

Consistancy

This grip allows beginners to easily and consistently hit quality shots. 

As it puts the least strain on your wrist, you’ll feel comfortable when positioning yourself over a shot to strike through the ball and place it where you want it to go on the other the court. Plus, the angle of the racket is much flatter compared to Western or Continental grips, that angle the racket to produce spin. That means these grips are a lot harder to use to hit accurate shots in comparison to the Eastern.

Easy to use

As this is perhaps the most natural forehand grip to the shape of your hand, you won’t need to spend heaps of time practicing in order to get used to this grip. Most beginners will take up this style as soon as they pick up a racket, making it perhaps the easiest grip to get up and running on.

Flexibility

As this grip sits between the Continental and the Western grip, players can easily transition between the Eastern and it’s counterparts to play different shots to trouble your opponent. Perhaps you might want to play a top spinning drop shot? By merely twisting your knuckles down, you’ll get the right angle to create that spin and rip through the ball to stop it dead.
It also comes in handy when the player wants to hit the ball hard, at a higher height, since it’s a comfortable grip. It’s also one of the best, especially for players who like to play around their backhand and hit hard shots. This grip is suitable on any tennis court, even when playing on slow surfaces such as clay.

Power and height

Another strong case in favor of the Eastern forehand grip is that it gives you the ability to hit the ball at different heights to trouble your opponent. Hitting high shots forces your opposition to reach over the ball, while hitting low shots means they have to reach for the ball. This, in turn, gives you a bit more security and room to force mistakes.

Plus, the grip allows you to put a lot of power behind your shots. It increases the chance of you hitting the ball sweet in the center of the racket, meaning you can unleash your full swing on the shot.

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Drawbacks Of The Eastern Grip

Not good for topspin

The Eastern grip isn’t ideal for those who naturally hit topspin shots. If you have a tendency to hit the ball in a topspin fashion, I advise you to use a western grip to get more down spin on the ball and hit the ball flatter.

Lack of shot variation

At its heart, the Eastern is the plain jane of tennis grips. It’s flat and doesn’t allow the player to put a lot of spin on the ball, meaning minimal creativity. 

If your opponent is a great defender, the lack of shot variation provided by the Eastern grip can be a big disadvantage. You will want to switch things up and hit more topspins to catch him/her off-guard.

You need good footwork for this grip

Another drawback to using the Easterngrip is that it is a lot less forgiving for players with poor footwork. The grip requires you to adopt a side-on stance to the shot, meaning you have to quickly move your feet to get into position, and this can be very tricky for high rising shots coming at you at pace.

Which players use the Eastern grip?

Roger Federer is perhaps the most well-known player to use the Eastern grip. The Swiss tennis legend has broken all the records winning a ton of trophies using this grip. 

But he’s not the only person on tour to have used this grip. 

Federer’s idol, Pete Sampras, also used the Eastern grip to devour opponents and famously used it to despatch opponents with his signature down the line forehand. 

2019 ATP Tour Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised his way past Dominic Thiem, using his devastating forehand to push Thiem to the back of the court. Tsitsipas also uses the Eastern grip, and no doubt the world No.6 will be taking the tennis world by storm in the next couple of years.

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The Tie Breaker

Understanding which grip is right for you is the key to becoming a good tennis player. 

The Eastern forehand grip remains one of the most commonly used grips in modern tennis, mostly for its comfort and flexibility. 

Of course, different players have different preferences. Some players will feel more comfortable using the Easterneastern forehand grip, while others prefer the advantages the Western or Continental grips provide. All have their benefits and drawbacks. 

Pros like Federer will often switch-up their grips depending on the type of shot he wants to play or the height of the shots coming at him. 

Believe me though, if the greatest tennis player of all time uses the Easterneastern grip on his forehand, you probably should too!

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Kevin Fitzgerald
Kevin Fitzgerald
Kevin Fitzgerald is a tennis coach based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Kevin was introduced to tennis by his father at the age of 3. Tennis quickly became a passion, and he started coaching at the early age of 16. Kevin now writes for several tennis related blogs and magazines.