If you are coming from a racquet sport background to Pickleball, you know there are a variety of grips which can be used to hold the Pickleball paddle. In tennis, continental, eastern and western grips are popular. In racquetball and Pickleball, a continental grip is used by most players. This is because the game is very fast so the Pickleball grip technique does not change.
Most Pickleball players use a continental grip or perhaps a slight modification of this on the backhand side. Because I have played significantly more racquetball than tennis, I use the continental grip for most shots in Pickleball. The only exception is when I hit a backhand from the baseline, I change my Pickleball grip technique. Unfortunately, Pickleball moves too fast at the net to be able to use this modification. Instead, I always have a continental grip up front.
If you have not played a racquet sport, you may be wondering what is a continental grip? It is simply the placement of your hand on the paddle so that a V is created by your thumb and forefinger. This V points toward twelve o’clock on your paddle. Some people suggest you hold the paddle similar to what you do when shaking another person’s hand.
When I use a modified continental grip on my backhand side when deep in the court, I change my V from 12 o’clock to 10 or 11 o’clock. This helps my paddle to be flat so I hit low over the net. I would say if you are new, this isn’t really necessary for your Pickleball grip technique. It’s just automatic for me to do since I did for so many years in racquetball.
High vs Low Grip
You should also be aware of how low or high you hold your hand on the grip. Think of baseball players who may choke up on the bat especially if it is too long for the hitter. I don’t think it is ever necessary to choke up on the Pickleball paddle. This is because the length of the grip is only a few inches.
However, make sure you have your hand firmly on the grip. The only exception I have for this is when I serve. Again, due to my racquetball background I will sometimes let the bottom of my hand dangle off the end of the paddle. You may see others choke up on the paddle and extend their index finger onto the paddle. I don’t recommend this as you are more likely to get sore fingers from the ball hitting you than any advantage from this technique.
Pickleball Grip Pressure
If you are coming from a racquetball or tennis background, you are used to these sports being a power game. This means to hit with force, you need to have a good grip on your racquet. This doesn’t mean you should have a death grip but you need to really hold onto your racquet so it doesn’t go flying across the court.
Pickleball is different in that the paddle is smaller and you should be hitting soft shots like the dink and third-shot drop. These two shots can be mastered more easily if you ease up on your grip. In other words, loosen your hand but still maintain your grip on the paddle. If you are driving the ball in Pickleball, you still need to have a firm grip. So, it takes awhile to feel comfortable going from a firm grip to looser grip. But that is part of the best practices for Pickleball grip technique .
I know I’ve had my challenges with my Pickleball grip technique when hitting third shot drops. I find that when the ball is hit hard with spin I need a firmer grip than when the return is slower or doesn’t have enough spin. If I don’t hold a firmer grip when someone hits the ball hard, then my third-shot drop doesn’t make it over the net.
Pickleball Grip Aids– Gloves
When talking about Pickleball grip technique, it also makes sense to discuss Pickleball gloves, tape, and wrap that can aid in holding the paddle. While wearing a glove in racquetball is common and something I did, I see very few players wearing gloves in Pickleball. I know some players do but it is usually in warm or hot conditions where sweat causes your grip to slip on the paddle. Do I recommend using a glove? Absolutely, if your grip is slipping or you want to reduce hand fatigue. The other case where a glove can be useful is if you play so much you are getting calluses or blisters.
Many glove choices exist for Pickleball players even though there are very few gloves specifically made for Pickleball. I recommend searching for racquetball gloves or golf gloves in addition to Pickleball gloves. Just remember to get the correct hand if you choose a golf glove. A right-handed golfer uses a glove on their left hand. My favorite type of glove is made out of a soft leather as they provide a great hold on the paddle handle and are durable. They also dry quickly and many times these gloves include breather air holes so you don’t sweat as much.
Pickleball Grip Aids– Tape and Wrap
Besides wearing a glove to help your grip, you can also use tape or wrap. These are often referred to as an over grip. The idea is similar to wearing a glove in that it helps you to hold onto your paddle. Over grip also can help to build up your grip if the handle size of your paddle is too small.
While I don’t have an issue holding onto my paddle in Pickleball, I did in racquetball due to the force of the shots being hit. I tried everything to hold onto my paddle including different grips, over grips and gloves. I didn’t find tape and wraps as effective as wearing a glove so this would be my recommendation if you need a better grip on your paddle.
You should also consider how much wear your grip has. These can easily be changed out if you have been using the same paddle for a long time and play regularly.
Pickleball Grip Size
Pickleball paddles have a variety of grip sizes usually ranging from 4″ to 4 1/2″. Sizing goes in 1/8″ increments so you can have 4 choices for grip size. The choice of size is important as you don’t want a grip too big for your hand. This can cause hand fatigue or your hand may slip on the paddle.
I use a 4 1/4″ grip size which is consistent with my racquetball racquet. To give you some perspective, I wear a women’s medium glove. This allows me to use my wrist to add spin and control to shots. If you have a choice between different size grips, go with the smaller grip as you can always build it up with over grip.
The Pickleball grip technique is an important factor in how you hit your shots and whether you have a firm grip on the paddle. In most situations, you should use a continental grip for best performance. In addition to that, be sure to use a glove or over grip so your paddle does not slip. Finally, make sure to choose a small grip size so you can maximize spin and control your shots.
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