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The Grip

Most beginners have a death grip on the mallet. That is understandable. The adrenaline flows once the ball is in play, the players and horses of the opposing team are formidable when they come crashing into you. The speed of the game can be dazzling. When you finally get a chance to hit, you don’t want to be seen as a novice, so you try to launch one. All this adds to your tenseness. That manifests itself in a tight grip. After all this, I’m suppose to relax? How does that work?!
The answer is experience. Sound simple? It is. Remember how tense you were when you took your first driver’s lesson? So many things to remember. So many, “What Ifs?” If you have now been driving for a couple of years, you probably are not that tense anymore. If you are like so many others, you might be telephoning or texting while driving. If you do, although not advisable, I doubt you are tense behind the wheel. When did your tenseness disappear? Somewhere along the way. After you drove a lot. Just like polo.

There are really TWO basic types of grips: (1) Hard and (2) Soft. Whether you use one or the other will ultimately depend on you personality. Some people approach a sport with more gusto and in a more aggressive way. Others are more relaxed, more fluid in their movements. It is similar to Hard and Soft styles of Kung Fu.
BOTH styles work equally well.
They are simply an extension of our personalities.

If you use a HARD style, you will grip the mallet more in the palm of the hand. The mallet handle will rest across the palm in a diagonal manner and you will squeeze the mallet handle harder. Typically, with this style, the palm of your hand will be facing upward toward the sky when you have extended your arm up and behind you, and the mallet handle will rest across the hand. Your wrist will be laid back. You should concentrate on hitting with your palm. The feeling will be one in which the resistance upon impact with the ball will be felt in the palm of the hand. You will probably get the feeling, also, that this is more of a slapshot.

If you select a SOFT style, the mallet handle will rest further down in your hand, lying more across the fingers. When you arm is extended upwards and back, you will notice that your hand will face more to the right. Instead of a laid back wrist, you will have a feeling more of cocking your wrist upward, not laying the wrist back. With this style you will also squeeze less – just enough to keep the mallet from flying out of your hand. The sensation while hitting the ball will be that the energy flows out of the fingers, not out of the palm of the hand.

To understand the angle of the wrist in each style, hold your right hand out as if you would shake someone’s hand. The palm faces to the left. If you cock the wrist with an upward motion in the direction of your thumb, this is the action a soft stylist would use. If you lay back the wrist to the right, with the palm now facing more to the front, this is the action a hard stylist would use.

Naturally, there are many variations of these two methods, which combine components of both. It is good to keep in mind, when your shots are not working for you, that you can still try other ways. Both of these methods depend on you hitting downward in a vertical plane, however.


Grips – Examples

The following photos show examples of relaxed grips, especially that of Eduardo Novillo Astrada. Francisco de Narvaez’s mallet grip, on the other hand, is seated deeper in his palm and he has “choked up” on his grip. With this grip, de Narvaez can hit through the uprights from the middle of the field, in spite of his somewhat unorthodox form.