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If someone has not been doing a specific action for a while, you can say he "lost his grip" (got out of practice).

But what about the other direction, when you want to say that a person is new and must start practicing in order to get a handle on the work, I am quite sure I have heard something similar, most likely with the word "grip". I was thinking about "get grip on" but not sure if this can be used.

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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, Kris, Cameron, Mark Beadles, tchrist Oct 17 '12 at 23:32

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Are you sure? I've usually heard "lost his grip" used to suggest mental instability, as in "lost his grip on reality". Are you perhaps thinking of "lost his touch"? –  Nate Eldredge Apr 5 '12 at 13:13
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You could perhaps say, "He regained his touch" or "He regained his lost form."

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Thanks but I meant if he has not started yet. Imagine he is new and needs to understand and learn a work. So he needs -(phrase I am looking for)- –  Pietro Apr 4 '12 at 6:43
    
He needs to learn the ropes,wet/dirty his hands, acquaint himself, etc. –  Bravo Apr 4 '12 at 6:52
    
thanks! So nothing with "get xy"? I really thought I heard "he needs to get grip on it" but probably I misheard –  Pietro Apr 4 '12 at 7:02
    
Yes, you can say "He needs to get a grip on this." :) –  Bravo Apr 4 '12 at 7:08
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Except that in British English "Get a grip" generally means "Pull yourself together," "Control yourself". I've never heard "lost his grip" used figuratively at all. –  Andrew Leach Apr 4 '12 at 7:19
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Possibly you are thinking of "get the hang of it"; eg

After Billy got the hang of holding a pencil he did better in writing class.

The idiom dates from the 1840's; eg see explanation at metafilter.com, which quotes OED as saying

to get the hang of: to become familiar with the proper wielding or use of a tool; fig. to get to understand, manage, master, deal with as an adept; to acquire the knack of. ... 1845 ... [eg] After they have acquired the hang of the tools for themselves...

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If by "work" you mean paid labor, which presumably you do mean, then in American English we usually use "get up to speed". We tend to reserve "get the hang of" something for basic things (like how to hold a pencil properly) that you do not get directly paid for. (Of course, you could use "get the hang of" in a joking manner to mean "get up to speed", perhaps with the goal of taking some pressure off the situation.)

By the way, someone who is alredy up to speed at the time of hire is / can be referred to as "plug and play", or as someone who can "hit the ground running".

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