Pickleball is a fast-paced sport that demands your undivided attention. If you’re serious about playing, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we will look at the three most popular ways to hold a paddle to improve your game and reduce stress on your hands. We will also cover how to measure your grip size, how you replace pickleball paddle grips, and how to add an overgrip.
Your grip is one of the most important things when playing pickleball because it dictates how much control you have over the paddle and how quickly you can swing it. A bad paddle grip can end in pain and too many faults.
If you’re new to playing or looking to switch your grip here is everything you need to know. Let’s Jump in!
What Are The Different Types of Pickleball Grips?
Unlike tennis where a player has time to switch between how they hold the paddle, pickleball is full of fast returns and split-second rallies so you typically stick to one paddle grip throughout a game. There are three major “grips” (or ways to hold your paddle) that are used throughout pickleball:
The Continental grip, The Western grip, and The Eastern grip.
Which Grip Is Best For Pickleball?
Matching your type of play with your grip style is important. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when selecting a paddle grip.
- Do you hit the same amount of forehands as backhands?
- Is your forehand shot stronger than your backhand?
- Do you have a stronger backhand than forehand?
We get into the details of how each answer matches the different grips down below in the post. Here is a brief introduction to each grip.
The Continental or Hammer Grip
The Continental grip is versatile on both forehands and backhands. It’s also useful if you have large hands or small wrists. It’s also good for people who tend to drop their paddle on a regular basis because it keeps your hand in a more stable position. However, this grip may be difficult for beginners because it requires a lot of dexterity. Therefore, it’s not recommended for players who aren’t very comfortable with pickleball yet.
The Western Grip or Swat Grip
The Western grip allows for more control over the paddle than other grips, which can be useful for beginners and those with smaller hands. Using this grip can also help to reduce wrist pain. In addition to providing more control, the Western grip also allows you to keep your fingers closer together, which can make hitting harder balls easier.
This makes it ideal for players who like to hit hard groundstrokes, from their Forehands or Backhands. However, one disadvantage of using this grip is that it may cause wrist pain if you continue using it for long periods of time. If you’re worried about your wrists, try switching your grip.
The Eastern Grip or Handshake Grip
The Eastern Grip is a grip that many players are familiar with, as it was popularized by the likes of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras on the tennis courts in the 1990s. This is the most popular grip in pickleball, it’s the grip that is the most beginner friendly. The Eastern Grip creates a very secure grip that allows you to hit with more power.
Should You Change Your Grip In Pickleball?
A new grip can provide a different feel and will help you develop a stronger connection with the paddle. However, changing your grip does come with some risks it could take time to adjust back to your original grip if you want to change back.
As you become more familiar with the game, you might find yourself gripping the paddle in different ways. When new to pickleball, it makes sense to start by keeping your grip consistent. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with one basic grip, you might want to experiment with other grips for a bit and see what feels best for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding what works best for your individual style!
(Are you looking for new pickleball courts and players in your area? Read our latest post on how to find them)
What Is The Eastern Grip In Pickleball?
Also called the handshake grip, as you hold it like you are shaking hands. The Eastern grip is the most popular and versatile pickleball paddle grip. It’s a neutral grip meaning both forehand and backhands are equally accessible. This is the grip most beginners and intermediate players should use.
Finding the Eastern grip is easy; hold the paddle out in front of you, so the paddle face is vertical. Now place your grip hand on the face of your paddle, slide your hand down to the grip and shake it like you would someone’s hand. The heel point from the diagram should rest on two while your index finger pad should be on 3 (See Images).
What Is the Continental Grip?
Also called the hammer grip because you hold the paddle like a hammer. The continental grip slightly favors the backhand because your knuckles face the net. Players who like the short dink game and backhands are best suited for the continental grip. While it only slightly favors the backhand, some players find it hard to adjust to their forehand.
Start in the Eastern grip, so the paddle blade is straight, and rotate the pad of your index finger, so it’s sitting in the bevel of number 2; your heel point position should be on 1 (See Image)
What Is The Western Grip?
Also called the swat grip because you hold it like you would swat a bug. The western grip is usually how most beginning players instinctively grab the paddle handle. However, it is the most difficult of the grips. This paddle grip favors forehand shots considerably, as the palm of your hand is behind the face of the paddle. However, it makes the backhand very difficult to gain power behind. Most players that use a western grip have a two-handed backhand or rotate their body position to the forehand.
To use the western grip, start in the Eastern grip and rotate the pad of your index finger to the number 5. Your heel point should sit on 4 (See Images)
What Is The Right Grip Pressure?
One of the most important factors to remember when you’re playing is the amount of pressure you apply to the paddle. If your grip pressure is too tight it can cause unnecessary stress on your muscles and tendons, which may lead to injury. When you have too tight of a grip the ball flies off of your paddle and is much harder to place where you want on the court.
A loose and comfortable grip pressure will give you more touch and better ball handling. When it comes to ensuring that your grip pressure is relaxed and comfortable, you can do a few things.
Firstly, think of the pressure on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the least and 10 being a death grip. You should opt for a loose and relaxed grip; I shoot for the 4-5 range when I’m out on the court. Secondly, remember most people hold their paddles too tight, be aware as your play and loosen your grip.
As long as you keep this in mind during your next match, it should help you maintain the feel of the ball and prevent any unnecessary strain on your body.
What Grip Do I Use? My Personal Thoughts
You now know all the different ways to hold your paddle, but what should you choose? I’ve found the eastern gives me the best shape and is well-rounded, as most players do. I’ve tried out all three and found the eastern grip to be the most suitable for my type of gameplay. Starting out, try the continental and eastern grips in various games. Experiment with all three in a few games and give each one a fair shot.
Next up, let’s chat about replacement handle grips, overgrips, and wraps.
Read our full breakdown of paddle requirements set by the USAPA.
How Do You Pick A Pickleball Grip Size?
For the rest of the post, we will refer to grip size and fit, meaning the wrap around the handle. The size of your grip is something that you can easily change by adding more overgrip. Different people have different preferences on what feels the most comfortable and natural to them, so it’s important to try a few different sizes to find out which one feels best (trying it out in a store is a great way to get the feel).
There are a couple of factors that go into choosing the right size for you. Grip size should be based on hand size and the measurement from your ring finger to the crease of your palm. This will help ensure that you’re using an appropriate grip for your hand size, which will, in turn, help keep your grip from slipping or shifting during play. If you want to use a larger-than-average grip, it’s important to remember that you may need to adjust your swing or technique accordingly.
Here is the chart correlation to the measurement:
How Do I Know My Pickleball Grip Size?
If you’re new to the game, it can be a little confusing to figure out what size handle or overgrip you should get. There are a few different ways to measure your grip size, but the most reliable one is to use a ruler or tape measurer.
To find the length place a ruler lined up with the bottom crease in your palm. Measure the distance from the top of your ring finger. This will give you a rough estimate of how wide your hand should be when gripping the paddle. It’s not an exact science, but it works in most cases. Also, note that if you are holding the paddle with your dominant hand you should be able to put the tip of your other index finger between your palm and middle finger.
What Is Standard Grip Size For A Pickleball Paddle?
Standard paddle grip ranges from 4″ to 4.5″ around the handle. As we mentioned, it’s mostly a preferred choice, but the grip size can also affect your play. You may find that too large of a grip size can cause dropped paddles and a loss of power. Generally, it’s better to start small and build up the overgrip to a larger size. You will find a smaller size typically means you can spin easier. (Have a look at our top pickleball paddles for spin or our full review on where to get a custom pickleball paddle)
What Are Pickleball Grips & Pickleball Overgrips
Pickleball grips are the small handles that come standard with most paddles. They are typically made from plastic or rubber and sit on top of the paddle shaft, where your hands naturally grip them. Pickleball overgrips are a thin wrap that you cover your handle with. While both kinds of grips are helpful for different reasons, some players prefer one over the other based on preference and personal play style. In general, however, you choose to grip your paddle, be sure that it is comfortable and fits your hand properly.
What is Pickleball Overgrip?
Pickleball overgrips are designed to hold the paddle in place during play. They come in a variety of styles and materials, with rubber being the most popular. Rubber overgrips are often thicker than standard grips, so it is important to consider grip size when selecting an overgrip. It is also important to select a grip that fits comfortably for your hand.
If you find yourself getting sweaty palms or cramping up from gripping too tightly, consider an overgrip with a cutout or open-cell padding. Overgrips are best used by intermediate to advanced players who want to keep their hand’s comfortable while on the court.
When choosing a pickleball overgrip, it’s important to consider grip size and style as well as material and construction. Rubber overgrips are most common, but can be expensive and may not offer enough support for larger hands. A good pickleball overgrip should have adequate cushioning to keep your hand comfortable while providing enough support.
What is a Comfort Grip?
The comfort grip is a well-cushioned grip that reduces slip from sweating. This can be helpful for those who tend to sweat a lot, or for those who have arthritis. Many people with arthritis use the comfort grip to reduce pain and you can play longer. A lot of paddles these days come standard with a comfort grip.
What Is Contour Grip?
The Contoured Grip has the same diameter as the Comfort Grip. The main difference is this grip has bumps to let you know where the grip is located, making it a unique option. It’s great for beginners who haven’t mastered hand positioning yet.
Can You Use A Tennis Overgrip For Pickleball?
Yes, you can! Tennis and pickleball overgrips are made from the same materials, the key difference is the length of a tennis overgrip is bigger. Overgrips have been used throughout all racquet sports, they are great for added tackiness, absorption, and the perfect grip size on your paddles.
Want to customize your own pickleball paddle? Check out our full review of Selkirk’s pickleball paddle lineup. You can add any grip you want and choose between a lighter or heavier weight depending on your style of play.
Pickleball is an exciting and fun way to exercise it’s great for building strength and endurance in your arms, shoulders, and back. In addition to improving hand-eye coordination, pickleball is wonderful for improving cardiovascular health and burning calories.
With a variety of different grips to choose from, pickleball is a sport that can provide you with either a competitive edge or just a good time. We hope we’ve provided you with some helpful tips when selecting a grip style. Now get out there and play!
Are you still learning the game? Check out our Pickleball Scoring Guide