A few weeks ago I decided to finally switch my serve grip to a continental grip. Prior to that I had been serving with an eastern forehand grip, or what you might refer to as a frying-pan grip. Since I’ve made the switch I’ve had the chance to play several matches so I thought I’d give an update on my progress.
I’ve played 5 matches now with my new serve grip. Additionally, I’ve gone out with a bucket of balls on 3 separate occasions for practice. I’m pleased to say that I’m starting to feel much more natural with the new swing. When I first started, I had to really concentrate on moving my hand into the right position. Now I’m beginning to naturally move to the continental grip as I get ready to serve.
Probably the biggest surprise I’ve experienced with the new grip has been an improved first serve percentage. I fully expected to have a very poor first serve percentage during my first few matches, but the results have been entirely opposite. As difficult as the switch was at first, I somehow still managed to serve much more consistently than I had with my old grip. I imagine this improvement is a result of the spin I am now able to put on my serve. With my old frying-pan grip, I was hitting a very flat ball that had almost no spin on it. With the continental grip, I’m always getting some type of spin on the ball.
One thing I had mentioned in my first post was how I had lost most of my power on my serve. I’m gradually getting more pace on the ball now as my service motion improves. When I was first learning this new grip, I was simply trying to muscle the ball into the court using mostly arm. I’ve learned that if I relax my arm and grip and get my whole body into the action, that I can actually generate more power with less effort. I’m still not quite where I was before as far as serve speed is concerned, but my pace is much better than it was just a few weeks earlier. I’m fully confident that I will be able to exceed my old serve by the end of the summer.
I also wanted to mention a few words regarding pronation. When first making the switch to continental, I had to make a mental effort to pronate my wrist before I struck the ball. Despite everything I had read in tennis magazines, this motion did not feel natural to me. However, after several weeks and hundreds of serves with the new grip, I don’t really have to think about it anymore. The pronation just happens as part of my swing. It’s true what they say, practice make perfect (and permanent)!
If you are trying to switch to a continental serve grip, be patient and stick with it. I’ll admit that I’ve had several frustrating days over the past month, but I’m glad that I didn’t give up and switch back to my old form. Remember, switching to a new grip is a big change and it takes a lot of time to learn new habits. But ultimately I believe the results will be worth the work! I’ll continue to post updates on the new serve grip as I gain more experience.