Console gaming has always been very straightforward. The controllers are simple and fit right into your hands with no worry in the world. Despite this, gamers and avid players alike have innovated and found a few different ways to hold a controller. Each coming with its own pros and cons, every controller grip style is suited to different genres of games. This doesn’t mean you have to use them, the standard grip style is universally good for any game. The beauty of this is that it is personal preference and you can still be good at the game regardless of what style you use.
The claw grip is a style of holding a console controller. The basics of it are you move your middle finger onto the triggers of your Xbox one controller, or PlayStation controller, and your index finger onto the buttons.
For an Xbox controller you can only do this on the right side due to the controller layout however, Your thumb should remain on the stick, with your index on the AXYB colored buttons and your middle finger on the triggers. Only one hand can do this as the left side of the controller has the thumbstick at the top, and it is almost impossible to use any other finger effectively for this.
Playstation controllers can have both of your hands using the same grip style due to their almost symmetrical design. This would work the exact same way as the grip style on the Xbox controller but the controller for the PlayStation is a lot smaller so it is more uncomfortable.
To perfectly sum it up. Using the example of any controller, each finger should be position as so to properly play claw.
The claw grip offers a playstyle that wastes no time with finger movements as every button on the controller is accessible during standard gameplay. The conventional grip style makes you take your thumb off of the thumbstick to press one of the buttons which can waste time, albeit not much but in competitive gaming, every single millisecond counts.
In traditional games such as Call Of Duty, the bumpers are for shooting, the right thumbstick for aiming, and the buttons on the right are for tactical actions. This would mean that to press ‘X on Xbox or ‘square’ on PlayStation to reload would prohibit you from aiming. I am sure you can see the issue with this, or even if it was to press the crouch button to make yourself a smaller target. All of the tactical buttons would stop you from aiming with a traditional grip which could result in you getting killed in the game.
While it takes some time to get used to the grip, it completely eliminates any wasted time once you are using the grip style naturally. You can now jump, crouch, or reload all while having your aim be unaffected. This method is tried and tested as a large number of pro players also use the claw grip. And after all, they are pro players so they spend a lot of time playing, meaning it can’t be too bad at all. Some pro players who use claw grip even post videos on their youtube channels recommending their fanbase to also use claw grip.
If you are trying out this grip style, you will notice that it is not the most pleasant feeling. This is because controllers have been under development for decades now to ensure they are made with the average person’s hand in mind. This is called being ergonomical. They are made to fit comfortably in your hand while you use the traditional grip. So naturally, changing your grip goes against this and would make it feel uncomfortable as you are directly combatting the ergonomic design of the controller.
Not only is the shape of the controller important in your comfort, but muscle memory also plays a huge part. If you have been playing games using the traditional grip style for your whole life and then try to swap overnight, your fingers will have no idea what to do. Your index fingers, which are used to pressing the bumpers will now be tasked with pressing any of the 4 buttons at precise times.
It is very hard for people to instantly pull off and takes time to practice before you’re as good and skilled as you are in a traditional grip style. Not only this but if you play claw then your middle fingers, which are used to resting at the back will now have the job of pressing the bumpers, which while simple require incredibly good timing to work in tandem with the rest of your hand. They also need control over how hard to press as in racing games or driving games, the harder you push then the faster you drive. So you would need to be careful as to how much pressure you apply.
Thankfully the most important part of a controller will be untouched, and of course, I am talking about the analog stick. Your thumbs are far too well trained at such a critical role for any other finger to take over. The analog stick requires far too precise movement that you would be terrible at any game should you try to use any other finger.
While theoretically, the claw grip seems flawless after you get used to it, that isn’t the case. While the discomfort when you first start using claw grip is bad, you eventually get used to it. However, there are more long-term health problems that most people do not know about when they play claw.
One of the main issues, when you are playing claw, is your index finger. As previously stated, the index finger no longer lays atop the bumpers, but now has to press the buttons on the front side of the controller. For the finger to be in this position it has used the muscles located in between your thumb and index finger, known as the dorsal interosseous. This muscle is constantly contracting which is why you are not accidentally pressing all the buttons at once. Being frequently activated, the muscle experiences fatigue due to the constant contraction. This will trigger discomfort and could even lead to pain.
This is worsened for those with smaller hands as the fingers will have to abduct, or separate, even more causing more pain and discomfort. While the health issues related to claw gaming may not last for life, they can be painful and make you feel discomfort far more often than anyone wants to. It may even be a burning sensation you feel in the muscle between your thumbs and index finger.
The best piece of advice to prevent this is for you to be taking breaks very often, and do warm-up exercises before you start playing games using claw. Longer fingers may find this more comfortable however the index finger is still prone to the same pain and discomfort that those with smaller fingers feel.
Another important way to prevent further pain or discomfort is to ensure that you take longer breaks. If your finger is hurting, do not go back to playing. The finger requires rest to properly recover. Treat the injury as you would a sprained ankle. If it hurts, either play normally or take a couple of day’s break from gaming in general. All gamers are susceptible to this so even if you think you’re one of the toughest gamers alive, it is smarter to rest and recover.
Claw grip is a special way to hold your controller to minimize the need to move any fingers. The main difference is that your index finger will be on the buttons while your middle finger now uses the bumpers.
Claw grip does come with some health issues as it permanently has a muscle contracting which can lead to discomfort and a burning sensation. To minimize this, take breaks often and do proper warm-up exercises before playing.
It is a personal preference for them as the thumb is on the analog stick that controls the camera. Rocket league has a option to permanently track the ball which makes the right analog stick less crucial, negating the need to always have your thumb on it. Some do, but some do not. So if you choose not to adopt a new grip style, you won’t be at a disadvantage.
This is all up to what you prefer, while claw grip does negate any time loss from moving fingers, it can be unnatural and uncomfortable to some. Both styles work as well as each other so it truly is your own decision to make.