Learning how to hold a pickleball paddle is essential to becoming a master of the game. You will not be able to successfully hit the ball if you do not know how to grip the paddle correctly. Three basic grips are known throughout the sport: the Continental, Eastern, and Western Grips.
Each grip has its own benefits and uses. You may prefer one over the other as your skill level builds. We will discuss each one, including the Continental Grip variations. We will also cover where and how tight to grip the paddle and how grip size affects how you hold a paddle. Read on for everything you need to know about how to hold a pickleball paddle.
The Neutral Grip Or the Continental
According to Dick’s Sporting Goods, to initiate the Continental Grip, you just simply need to “shake hands” with the pickleball paddle. Alternatively, you can consider it the hammer you use to strike a nail.
While playing, you will need to keep the paddle face flat so that it is perfectly perpendicular to the ground. Your hand will be slightly shifted toward your dominant side.
Continental Grip Variations
When you shake hands with the paddle, your hand forms a V on the handle, and it looks like it points at you. When your hand is in this position, it is in the neutral position.
If you shift it slightly left so that the V is off-center and pointed toward your left side, however, this is the weak variation. Alternatively, if you shift it slightly to the right, the V will be pointed toward your right side, known as the strong variation.
The neutral grip is the primary variation used by pickleball players using the Continental Grip. It is the best option for forehands, backhands, dinking, slicing, adding spin, and hitting close to the net.
The strong grip is usually reserved for overhead smashes and when you need to be aggressive with your forehand shots. It should be avoided when dinking or close to the net.
The weak grip does not see much use in the game, making it impossible to orchestrate an overhead smash. It may have some benefits for spin shots and cuts; otherwise, most players stick to neutral and strong grips.
So now that we have discussed the different ways to grip the paddle using the Continental Grip, you are most likely wondering where on the handle you grasp.
Where To Grip the Paddle
You must decide if you are more comfortable holding the paddle at the bottom or the top of the handle. At the bottom of the handle, you get more length to play with and potentially more power. At the higher end, you will have more control but less power. Ultimately, it is up to you which style you are more comfortable with.
How Tight You Should Hold Your Paddle
You should hold your pickleball paddle loosely but not so much that you are prone to repeatedly dropping it. A flexible hold allows for easy grip changes and does not put your arm or wrist under stress while playing.
How Grip Size Affects Holding Your Paddle
If your grip size is too small, you risk injury, such as tennis elbow, from gripping excessively hard to maintain a hold on your paddle. On the other hand, if the grip is too large, you can have similar difficulties trying to grip the handle so that you do not drop the paddle. You need to find the perfect middle ground, so there is no hand, wrist, or arm strain.
Alternative Grips – The Eastern and Western Grips
In addition to the Continental Grip, there are the Eastern and Western Grips. Each offers different benefits to the player, and you may need to switch between all three during a game.
The Eastern Grip
The Eastern Grip offers a universal approach to pickleball, allowing for both forehands and backhands without changing anything. Like the Continental Grip, you will begin by shaking hands with the paddle. However, this time, you will not have the V of your hand pointing directly at your dominant side. This grip is ideal for those just starting out and at an intermediate skill level.
The Western Grip
With the Western Grip, you will start with an Eastern Grip but then rotate your wrist 90 degrees. If you are left-handed, you will rotate counterclockwise; if you are right-handed, clockwise. This grip is not recommended if you need to make backhand shots.
How To Hold a Pickleball Paddle To Dink
When dinking, you need to have an expert feel for the ball. You cannot grip the paddle too tightly, or you will lose this sense of feeling. According to Dick’s Sporting Goods, when measured on a scale of 1 to 10, the pressure you exert should range from a 3 to a 5. When your grip is too tight, you risk losing control. This lack of control results in erratically striking the ball.
Can You Put Your Fingers on the Paddle Face?
Many players find it more comfortable to extend their index finger onto the face of the paddle. This position gives them more control over striking the ball instead of using a snapping motion with their wrist. However, these players are limited on their backhands, so you may often see someone run around their backhand to hit a forehand instead.
Other players prefer a grip with both the thumb and forefinger on the paddle face, which makes the backhand stronger. As you might assume, these players struggle with their forehand swing. They also have difficulty striking the ball from a lower angle. This grip is commonly called the table tennis grip.
Placing your fingers on the paddle face is all a matter of personal comfort. However, you must understand that it can impact your ability to hit certain shots. It will be no problem if you can easily switch grips to play through the difficulties.