Mastering Your Pickleball Paddle: Gripping Techniques and Hand Switching


In a recent Pickleball Fire podcast interview with senior pro Rick Witsken, the discussion centered around two crucial aspects of pickleball: switching hands and adjusting your grip. Understanding when and how to utilize these techniques can significantly impact your game. But which one should you embrace, and which one should you avoid?

Switching Hands: A Tactical Advantage

Rick Witsken, renowned for his ambidextrous play, often switches the paddle between his right and left hand. Though right-hand dominant, he uses his left hand to extend his reach in critical situations. This technique is particularly useful in doubles when he is pulled off the side of the court or in singles to prevent being passed down the line. Rick even employs his left hand to return high lobs, a skill he showcased during the U.S. Open while partnering with Scott Moore.

When to Switch Hands:

  • Extended Reach: When you need to cover more ground, especially on the sides.
  • Limited Mobility: If your movement is restricted, switching hands can compensate.

Rick recommends this technique to his students, particularly those who may not move as fluidly as they once did. By switching hands, you can maintain a competitive edge without compromising your court coverage.

The Continental Grip: Your Go-To Technique

Switching your grip, however, is a different story. Rick advises against changing your grip, especially during fast-paced net exchanges. Skilled opponents can easily predict your shots if they notice you adjusting your grip. Instead, he advocates for the Continental grip, which is considered neutral and versatile for both forehand and backhand shots.

How to Master the Continental Grip:

  1. Understanding the Bevels: If you have a tennis background, you’ll be familiar with the eight bevels on the tennis grip. Place the knuckle of your index finger on bevel 2 to achieve the Continental grip.
  2. Handshaking Technique: For those unfamiliar with tennis grips, hold your paddle vertically to the ground. Grip the paddle as if you’re shaking someone’s hand. Ensure your thumb wraps around the grip, forming a “V” with your thumb and index finger.

This grip should feel comfortable and allow you to seamlessly transition between forehand and backhand shots.

Practical Tips for Effective Play

Situational Awareness:

  • Doubles Play: Use your non-dominant hand to extend reach when pulled off the side.
  • Singles Play: Switch hands to avoid being passed down the line.

Grip Consistency:

  • Net Exchanges: Maintain the Continental grip to keep your shots unpredictable.
  • Baseline Shots: Use the same grip to ensure consistency and control.

Training Drills:

  • Hand Switching: Practice drills that require you to switch hands quickly to build muscle memory.
  • Grip Familiarity: Spend time getting comfortable with the Continental grip through repetitive practice.


1. Why should I switch hands in pickleball?

Switching hands can extend your reach and compensate for limited mobility, giving you an edge in both singles and doubles play.

2. What is the Continental grip, and why is it recommended?

The Continental grip is a neutral grip that allows for seamless transitions between forehand and backhand shots, making it ideal for unpredictable play.

3. How do I know if I’m using the Continental grip correctly?

Hold your paddle vertically and grip it like a handshake. Your thumb and index finger should form a “V” shape on the grip.

4. Can I switch grips during a fast exchange at the net?

It’s not recommended to switch grips during fast exchanges as it makes your shots predictable to skilled opponents.

5. How can I practice switching hands effectively?

Incorporate hand-switching drills into your training routine to build muscle memory and improve your ambidextrous play.

By mastering these techniques, you’ll enhance your pickleball game, making you a formidable opponent on the court. For more expert tips and insights, visit Pickleball Fire.

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Written by Billy Pickles

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