New to playing pickleball? Or just want to improve your grip? Then it’s worth knowing the best ways to hold your pickleball paddle!
Improving your pickleball paddle grip won’t just help you to play better; it can also help to reduce the risk of a wrist-related injury.
Your strokes will improve with better grip, and a specific grip can even help to open up new ways to perform certain strokes, like backhands.
What’s important to remember about pickleball is that it’s more fast-paced than other racket sports, like tennis or badminton.
As a result, there’s usually not enough time to switch your grip in pickleball the same way tennis players do during tennis games. So deciding on the best grip for you is worth thinking about – especially if you play competitively!
But no matter whether you play with friends or in tournaments, you’ll find the 3 best ways to grip your pickleball paddle below.
3 Ways To Grip Your Pickleball Paddle
There are three main ways that most pickleball players hold their paddles.
Everyone has a different stance when playing, a stronger forehand or backhand, and a grip that feels more natural, so it’s best to choose the paddle grip that works best for you.
These three grips are known as the Eastern Grip, Western Grip, and Continental Grip. And it might not come as a surprise that these three grips are also used in other racket sports, like ping pong, badminton, and tennis!
Unlike tennis and badminton players, however, pickleball players typically don’t have the time to change grips mid-game, since pickleball is played a lot faster on courts that are much smaller.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to experiment with these grips to see which one feels the best and helps you improve your game.
1. Eastern Grip
The Eastern Grip is the most common grip for pickleball players.
It’s the most natural grip a player will use when holding a pickleball paddle for the first time, as it positions the flat side of the paddle (the face) horizontally for forehand strokes.
If you imagine shaking hands with someone or holding a hammer, this is the same way you’d grip the pickleball paddle. It’s a neutral grip that’s also seen widely in casual and professional tennis, as well as ping pong.
How to grip your pickleball paddle using the Eastern Grip:
- Take your pickleball paddle and turn it so that the flat side is horizontal and you’re looking down the edge of the paddle
- Wrap your hand around the paddle so that the space between your thumb and forefinger is in line with the edge of the paddle
- Make sure that your hand is in the same position as if you are shaking hands with someone or holding a hammer
What the Eastern Grip does is set up easy forehands and backhands without changing grip, as the flat side of the paddle remains horizontal.
If you’re new to pickleball, this is most likely the paddle grip you’ve been using instinctively, especially if you tend to hit more forehand strokes than backhands.
2. Western Grip
Just as common as the Eastern Grip, the Western Grip is a beginner-friendly grip that’s also seen in competitive pickleball.
Where it differs from the Eastern Grip, however, is that the Western Grip involves turning your hand slightly outwards around the handle.
If you imagine holding a frying pan or swatting a fly on the ground, this is what the Eastern Grip feels like. It allows for better sweeping forehand strokes, but makes backhand strokes more difficult due to the angle of the paddle.
How to grip your pickleball paddle using the Western Grip:
- Take your pickleball paddle and hold it using the Eastern Grip
- Slide your hand around the outside of the handle of the paddle so that the space between your thumb and finger is almost in line with the flat side of the paddle (the face)
- The paddle should feel as though as you are holding a frying pan titled a slight inward angle
While the Western Grip might feel more natural to some pickleball players, especially beginners, it’s best for those who enjoy forehand play and are not as strong on the backhand.
The angle of the wrist makes backhand strokes much more awkward, particularly for generating power.
3. Continental Grip
The Continental Grip is another common grip in pickleball, but it’s not as widely used as the Eastern Grip or Western Grip.
It’s almost the opposite of the Western Grip, as it sets up stronger backhands but makes forehand strokes more difficult.
As a result, the Western Grip is the favored grip for backhand players, especially when returning volleys from the kitchen line. It’s the most difficult grip to play with and also get used to, but it can be employed effectively by players who are experienced.
How to grip your pickleball paddle using the Continental Grip:
- Take your pickleball paddle and grip it using a neutral Eastern Grip
- Slide your hand outwards around the handle of the paddle so that your knuckles are facing the floor, almost level with the flat side of the paddle (the face)
- Bend your wrist slightly and turn the paddle inwards in a way that feels natural for backhands
Due to the increased difficulty of using the Continental Grip in pickleball, it’s not a grip that’s recommended for beginners. It’s still worth trying out, though, especially if you find backhand strokes more comfortable than playing forehand strokes.
What Is The Best Pickleball Paddle Grip For Beginners?
The majority of beginner pickleball players will instinctively pick up a pickleball paddle using the Eastern Grip. This is the grip that feels most natural for most players.
It’s the most commonly seen grip too, as well as the easiest grip to play with.
The Eastern Grip is also the most versatile in pickleball – plus other racket sports. It allows for both forehand and backhand play, particularly due to how the edge of the paddle remains in a vertical position.
Using other grips, like the Western Grip and Continental Grip, the pickleball paddle is slightly angled, favoring either the forehand or backhand.
These grips are more difficult and less natural for beginners, but are effective when used by more experienced pickleball players.
Which Pickleball Paddle Grip Should You Use?
As mentioned above, the best pickleball grip for beginners is the Eastern Grip, which is the most neutral grip, setting up easier forehands and backhands.
So if you’re a beginner player or someone who prefers versatility, the Eastern Grip is the best grip to use.
If, however, you prefer forehand strokes, the Western Grip might be more beneficial for your style. The same applies to the Continental Grip, which is better suited to pickleball players who are stronger on the backhand.
To summarize, there are three common ways to grip your pickleball paddle: the Eastern Grip, Western Grip, and Continental Grip.
Each grip caters to different player abilities, but it ultimately comes down to what feels most comfortable and natural for your playing style.
Still, it’s worth trying out each grip to get a feel of the style and whether or not it benefits your strengths on the court!