Monthly Tip - January 2014

Grip changes at the net for young players

It’s still a great puzzle to me that many young players have incorrect grips, with the following not uncommon:

  • Grip far too thick
  • Holding the racket at the very end of the handle all of the time
  • Inability to change from forehand to backhand at the net

Grip too thick

Small hands cannot grip and control a racket which is suitable for an adult, keep in mind that it’s vital that the racket can be moved in the fingers of the player. This cannot be done if the handle occupies the whole of the palm of the hand. Most young players now like to use new grips but forget to take off the grip that the racket came with the result that the racket is having to be held in the hand and not the fingers. This is the coach's fault for not noticing and correcting.

Holding the racket at the end of the handle

When playing singles its normal to hold the racket at the end of the grip but even the top players will have a little bit sticking out at the end. It’s best to teach young players to see a little bit of racket handle at the end in the hand even if only 10mm or so. This gives better control when playing in the forecourt or the net. In doubles the grip can be a little bit shorter again given that very short racket movements are common in doubles. It’s a big ask to expect a small 9 year old child to have great racket dexterity when holding the racket at the very end of the handle.

Grip changes for forehand to backhand net kills

Lots of junior players do not use the correct grip at either forehand or backhand net. This is because they are not introduced to the correct grips at the right age and also to appropriate grip change practices.

The grips used are basic grip for forehand and thumb grip for backhand.

The techniques are as follows

Forehand (right handed player)

Use basic grip but supinate the forearm slightly (rotate arm to the right) just before impact. It’s better to try to use this rather than a full panhandle grip as moving from panhandle to thumb is not easy.


Use thumb grip with slight pronation movement just before shuttle is struck (rotate arm to the left). 

Appropriate practice for young players 

It’s essential that grip change is taught early

  • Start the player in the centre just behind or on the T
  • Start with basic grip
  • Feed shuttle to forehand side (not too far) and encourage player to push downwards using technique described
  • Try this now on the backhand side
  • Eventually build up to one shuttle per side giving plenty of time for grip change (i.e. from basic to thumb and back again) 

If this practice is not carried out most young players will keep a basic grip when playing at backhand net and hyper pronate their arm and try to play the stroke with forehand face of the racket.

Have a look at this BWF Video which demonstrates the above.