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Should You Have a Grip Specifically For Your Serve?

by The Dink Media Team on

Christine Maddox took on Kaitlyn Christian at the PPA Arizona Cup earlier this week. You might have noticed something a little peculiar if you happened to tune in. And no, not just the out-of-pocket announcing.

Maddox was employing a grip specifically for her serve. She would serve with one grip and then adjust right after serving.

The technique proved very effective as Maddox started the match forcing two return errors and racked up a number of easy points throughout the match.

The Grip

For her serve, Maddox adjusts her grip to an extreme Western grip. She says "I have always used that grip since I was around 10 years old in tennis and it just easily transferred over for my serve in pickleball."

This grip allows her to put a tremendous amount of topspin on her serve without violating any serve rules.

One of the most overlooked serve rules, especially at the amateur level, is Rule 4.A.7.b

4.A.7.b. The highest point of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of the wrist (where the wrist joint bends) when the paddle strikes the ball. (See Figures 4-1 and 4-2)

Most players' topspin serve looks exactly like their topspin forehand, similar to Figure 4-2. With the top edge of the paddle higher than the wrist.

In order for the serve to be legal, the tip of the paddle would need to be pointed towards the ground.

Maddox's grip provides a nice workaround because as she rotates her grip, the edge of her paddle is not the highest point at contact. The whole paddle is below her wrist and she can still make contact as high as possible.

After the Serve

After the serve, Maddox adjusts her grip to more of Eastern grip. Maddox says the grip change makes it easier for her to dig out the lower-hit balls that you see in pickleball.

She is no longer bound to the serve rules and is free to use whatever grip she would like at this point. Most players end up with a similar grip, somewhere closer to continental. That way they're equally effective on the forehand and backhand.

Time to Add the Tomahawk to Your Game
On the PicklePod, Navratil explained the number one reason you should be tomahawking: Additional inches. The Tomahawk shot is a replacement for the backhand overhead. It is used to smash a ball high on the backhand side.

Changing grip is something that is done often at the pro level. Some players adjust to the pancake grip to finish a point or to hit the scorpion shot. Zane Navratil is a big advocate for the tomahawk, which requires another slight grip change.

Maddox's serve grip change might be the start of a trend similar to the scorpion and tomahawk shots. Especially if Rule 4.7.A.b starts being enforced.

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