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Grip Technique

Published: 19 Apr 2006 - 04:00 by missing_record1

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 12:26

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In tennis there are many different grip techniques: continental, easter, western, semi western. There isn't much talk about grip variation in squash, but just from watching pros it is clear that different players have quite different grip techniques. For example, on the forehand James Willstrop has a very closed or Western style grip while Greg Gaultier has a very open grip. I tend to use a very open grip on the forehand, as I find it lets me choose my spin on the ball alot more effectively. I don't change my grip for the backhand, so it is closed but my wrist cocks and allows me to hit the ball with a fairly open racket face. What does everybody else do? Does anybody use a different grip for forehand and backhand, like you would in tennis? What do you feel the advantages are of a closed vs. open face -- why would Willstrop use such a closed face on his forehand? It does allow him to hit the ball quite a bit in front of him but since he is so tall I would think it would give him trouble on lower shots.

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From BizarreCo - 19 Apr 2006 - 18:25

Squash and Badminton usually have different types of hold on the rackets due to the nature of the weight of the racket. Willstrop doesn't ALWAYS have a closed racket face on the forehand, in fact he only uses a more closed face when he's going for a more power-play game style. I saw him play 8 days ago against David Palmer in a British Premier League Match (DP 3 - 1 JW). His array of shots simply stunned the crowd, and he pulled out some things that some people didn't think was possible!


Anyhow, that's going a bit away from the point I wanted to make - Your grip in squash (or badminton) is not dictated by the weight and balance of the racket. Often player with strong forearms (esp. Pros) can play shots that would have the avaerage player clutching their arms in agony. The only example I can think of is someone untrained entering the "world's strongest man competition" - Their muscles simply couldn't cope. Same goes for squash - The pros are trained to deal with shots from all sorts of positions and at every angle. When pushed to the limit by a few great lengths / crosscourts, Willstrop simply "flicked" his wrist at the ball and put in a surprisingly powerful backwall-boast return. You can be sure he didn't have a closed grip for that one!


One description I've seen comes from the Khan family. It says that a player should adjust his (or her!) grip up and down appropriate to the shot. A higher held grip is great for touch / control and "digging" the ball from the back corners, but the lower hold is equally great for powerful shots. It's funny how topics like these are coming up on this site after it was only last night when I was talking this through with my two top juniors. We commented on how Beachill, Boswell, Willstrop and Palmer each play and swing their rackets.


But in summary, does it matter how open / closed you hold your racket if it's getting the results you want and you can play whatever shots you want?


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From rippa rit - 19 Apr 2006 - 16:40

EF - I have observed that a converted tennis player can still play good squash using the western grip provided they are very fast and get to the ball before it falls below the tin.
As soon as the bounce of the ball falls towards the floor, and is lower than the tin,  it is then the wrist that has to break to compensate for the upwards angle of the racket to come under the ball. 
This is geometry.

The principals remain the same, and variations do require adjustment somewhere for sure.

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From missing_record1 - 19 Apr 2006 - 12:00

I agree with your comments, but I am saying that a player like Willstrop for example uses a closed grip on the forehand on all shots, low or high. It is actually more closed than any other player I have seen. His body will adjust to help the racket face be more open or closed depending on the height of the ball but the grip itself stays closed or "western" at all times. I am very tall and the open grip helps me when I am lazy and stand up straight, but Willstrop is very disciplined and must work harder it seems for low balls because of the way he holds the racket. Tennis players that use a closed grip have a lot of trouble on low balls, too. In the end I agree with you -- pros have a lot of talent so it doesn't really matter how they hold the racket -- they adjust to it and position their body accordingly to play the shots they hit so well.

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From rippa rit - 19 Apr 2006 - 09:14

Here is a previous article for a read about the open face racket which might save a bit of brain power for me.
My comments are:
  • Players like Willstrop could hold the racket by the head and hit with the handle and still do ok ('cos I can do that) and that is because of their racket and ball skills - any shape, any length, any angle is just something developed over a long period.
  • Once you have hit a ball for about 14,000 hours (calculated 5hrsx5daysx40wksx14yrs) there would be no limit to the amount of skill developed. Boredom bring about experimentation too.
  • The finer points learned about the grip and swing come in being able to know the difference between the height of the ball in relation to the tin instantly, angle of the ball in relation to the height and body position, speed of the player and the ball in relation to the height of the tin and court position and body position, and all of these variables calculated to know what will work at the time - and then of course practised too.
  • Pretty simply explained:
    •  when the ball is higher than the tin FLAT will work
    •  when the ball is lower than the tin OPEN will work, but FLAT will cause errors.
    • if there is no forearm rotation to get power, the shoulder or body has to do the work.
What do you think now?

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