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Continental vs. Eastern: Pickleball Grips Explained

by JB Jones on

Pickleball grip names are the worst. Continental, Eastern, Semi-Western...are we holding a paddle, or joining Magellan's next expedition?

Over at Third Shot Sports, they're ready to bid adieu to one of the most confusing grips, the continental grip.

"The CG is found when the V of your hand (between your thumb and index finger) is right on top of the paddle handle...similar to how a person might hold a hammer."

The grip was a common part of any pickleball curriculum but advancements in paddle technology and the prevalence of topspin have made the eastern grip more popular.

With the eastern grip, the palm is more parallel to the face of the paddle. This theoretically adds strength through contact and is more natural for the topspin stroke.

Continental Versus Eastern Grip: Which is Better?

While Third Shot Sports thinks the continental grip is on the way out, let the record show that our very own Thomas Shields thinks otherwise.

He says that when he changed to a continental grip, his game instantly improved.

"While my semi-western grip promoted a wicked forehand, and still does, it also promoted a tendency to angle my backhand volleys skyward. Conversely, it caused my paddle to be over-rotated on the forehand side and in the heat of the moment, angle balls downward, right at the net."

One weakness of the eastern grip is less backhand power. A growing number of players are switching to a two-handed backhand which mitigates that concern.

Zane Navratil is one of the many players that changes grip throughout the point. He explains the different grips that he utilizes on the PicklePod.

Zane starts with a semi-western at the baseline. When he reaches the kitchen he switches to a continental grip. This allows him the block and counter-attack quickly.

Another shot that Zane uses us the Tomahawk. Zane changes his grip 180 degrees to execute the shot he says everyone will be using soon.    

Read Next: Pickleball is Changing, So Should Your Game

Next time you finish a point, take a look down at your grip. Are you shaking hands with your paddle (eastern) or wielding it like Thor's Hammer (continental)? Shake hands and play nice; a small change could make a big impact.


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