The Art and Science of Victory
Eastern Backhand Grip

Hitting topspin on the backhand side with the one hand has always been a challenge. The forehand topspin is motivated by biceps (elbow) flexion and pronation and flexion of the forearm - all particularly strong. The backhand topspin depends on wrist extension and supination which are comparatively wimpy.

This is still the grip that most pros use for hitting the one handed topspin backhand. This grip can also be used as a forehand grip; flip the racquet around and hit with the other face and you are holding a traditional western forehand grip. Unlike the continental however, using the eastern backhand/western forehand grip as a volley grip is not only inefficient, it is ungainly to the point of being downright ugly. Also since one is holding the most topspinny grips on both sides, one is always tempted to hit topspin approach shots, and to follow topspin to the net is to taste the fuzz sandwich.


Eastern backhand grip - the first knuckle is opposite the first (top) bevel.

The hand is on top of the racquet with the second knuckle opposite the top bevel (bevel #1). This puts the meat of the hand behind the racquet to facilitate the backhand 'hammer' and the middle joint of the thumb underneath for topspin. The grip also puts the racquet in the hand in such a way that much of the clockwise rotation of the forearm (supination) is translated into 'sword' type racquet head speed across the ball for added topspin.
Eastern Backhand Pressure Points

Eastern Backhand Grip Pressure Points - Backhand hammer (green), slice sword (yellow), and topspin sword (red).

Note first that while the slice (yellow) and topspin (red) pivot points are close together at the middle joint of the thumb, the rest of the pressure points are spread out. This means that the backhand topspin movement is not as natural as in the semi-western forehand or the eastern forehand. Therefor the body has to 'think' about the backhand topspin a bit more which, in turn, means you have to practice it more to make it automagical.

Checklist for the eastern backhand grip:

  • First knuckle opposite the first (top) bevel.
  • The meaty part of the hand at the base of the thumb (thenar eminence) firmly against the back bevel (bevel #7)
  • Thumb middle joint firmly against the bottom bevel (bevel #5)
  • Base of pinky finger firmly against the back bevel (bevel #7) .
  • The rest of the pinky finger firmly against the racquet from bevel #5 to bevel #8.