Easily the most common question I am asked by each and every prospective padel player that joins me on the court for the first time is, “How do I hold the padel racket? Is it the same as how I hold a tennis or squash racket?” The answer to that depends largely on how you hold your tennis or squash racket.
How to hold a padel racket? The most common way of holding a padel racket is the continental or handshake grip and is the easiest to learn for first-time padel players. The continental grip: hold the racket in such a way that the V formed between your thumb and index finger is in line with the edge of the padel racket.
There are two easy ways of getting the correct hand position for the continental grip. Once you have gotten used to using the continental grip there are a couple of variations you can use. Let’s take a close look at all of that in greater detail.
Hold Your Padel Racket Just Like A Professional
By far the easiest way for a beginner padel player to hold the padel racket is using the continental grip. Luckily it is also very easy to learn the continental grip in a minute or two.
As a beginning padel player, learning the continental grip puts you in good company. All of the top professional players on both the women’s and the men’s side of the World Padel Tour use the continental grip as their default way of holding a padel racket.
If you grab the padel racket so that your thumb is on the one face of the racket and your fingers are on the other face, you will notice that the “V” formed between your thumb and forefinger will be bridging the spine of the racket.
If you hold the handle of the racket with the “V” between your thumb and forefinger bridging the spine of the racket in exactly the same way, you will have the continental grip.
Shaking Hands With Your Racket
There are two ways to teach a beginner padel player the continental grip for holding a padel racket. The first teaching method works best when the beginner player is working with a partner or coach.
This teaching method is called the shaking hands with your racket method.
You start by shaking hands with the other player. Once you have done your handshake, your partner then holds the racket by the face so that the grip is pointing straight at you. Your partner must ensure that the face of the racket is vertical.
You then “shake hands” with your partner again. This time instead of taking their hand in yours, you take the grip of the padel racket in your hand.
If your partner has kept the face of the racket vertical, you will now be holding the racket using the continental grip.
Use The Racket Face To Position Your Hand
The other way to learn the continental grip for a padel racket is something that you can do on your own.
Start by holding the padel racket with one hand about halfway up the head of the racket. You will see that the only way you will be able to do that is around the spine of the racket. You will have your thumb down the one face and your fingers down the opposite face of the racket.
From this starting position, start sliding your hand down toward the handle of the racket until you get to the base of the racket head. All the time, keep your thumb on the one face and your fingers on the opposite face of the racket. You will notice as you slide your hand that the join where your thumb meets your hand will stay across the spine of the racket.
Continue sliding your hand down onto the handle of the padel racket maintaining the same hand position in relation to the spine of the racket.
This will place your hand in the exact position you need for the continental grip.
The Eastern Forehand Tennis Grip For Top Spin
The Eastern forehand tennis grip is what Rafa Nadal uses for those vicious topspin winners that he plays. It is the most common grip method used by top-level tennis players.
In padel, the only time I have used the Eastern forehand grip has been on some of my serves when I want the ball to dip over the net and then kick up onto the receiver’s racket.
The way I was taught the Eastern forehand grip years ago was by placing the padel racket down flat on the ground. Then reach down and grab the padel racket by the handle. That will automatically give you the Eastern forehand grip.
Remember that the Eastern forehand grip is for playing topspin shots. That means you need to be able to swing the padel racket through an arc to get this right. If you are back against the back wall you will not have the space for the backswing you need. Similarly, the Eastern forehand grip will not work up near the net for a volley as you will not have the time to swing the padel racket through an arc.
The Squash Finger Grip For Playing Off The Back Wall
When it comes to playing the ball off the back wall I find the squash finger grip to be the most effective. This is especially the case when playing on the backhand.
The squash finger grip differs from both the continental grip and Eastern forehand tennis grip in that it is neither a flat, tight nor a full hand grip on the racket.
It requires the racket to be effectively held and controlled by your thumb and forefinger with the remaining three fingers merely supporting the racket grip.
Holding the racket correctly should create a V shape between your thumb & forefinger.
As you hold the racket’s grip, the bottom point of the V should be aligned with the inside line of the racket’s neck so that your hand sits slightly over the top of the grip.
This position of the racket will create a 45-degree open face to the padel racket on the forehand side compared to the continental grip. Conversely, you will have a 45-degree closed face on the backhand side.
As you grip the racket, your index finger should sit slightly away from your three supporting fingers, poised almost as if to pull a trigger. This will increase your racket head control.
I tend to hook my index finger over the top edge of the racket grip. This allows me to hold the racket lightly in my fingers but prevents the racket from slipping out of my hand.
When I am flush against the back wall I start the stroke with the head of the racket above my head. I then begin by leading into the stroke with my elbow, pulling the racket down vertically and parallel to the back wall. I then pull my elbow through under the ball, allowing the racket head to connect with the ball as it moves away from the back wall.
If I do this with a continental grip on the backhand, the racket head will be almost horizontal as I slice through under the ball. That means I am hardly able to create any forward velocity of the ball.
The 45-degree closed head angle of the racket with the finger grip means that I have more racket head connecting behind the ball. That allows me to be able to still clear the net from a very cramped position against the back wall.
Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Fancy Grip Methods
Even though you have these other fancy grip methods available to you, not knowing or using them will in no way diminish the amount of fun you can have on the padel court.
Especially if you are just getting into the sport of padel, just learn the basic continental grip. If it is good enough for the top professional players of the world to use then it is or sure good enough for you to use.
We all have enough complications in our lives, so let’s just pick up our padel rackets and enjoy our time on the court chasing after the fuzzy ball as it bounces off the walls.