How To Hold A Ping Pong Paddle In The Right Way?

In this post, I will show you some guidance on how to hold a ping pong paddle properly. This technique is considered a beginner lesson

The shakehand grip

First thing first, when introduced to table tennis, perhaps most of us will use a universal grip which is known as the ‘shakehand’. The following steps are designated for forehand players; backhand ones must invert the side in order to perform this technique properly.

Hold the racket loosely, make sure that the web is between your thumb and your index finger and touch the blade’s curve. Take a look at the picture below to understand how to do a shakehand grip.

A shakehand grip is one of the most popular ways to hold a table tennis paddle

While holding the paddle, ensure that your index finger should rest along the edge of the backhand side and your thumb is laid against the bottom edge of the forehand side. Keep your wrist straight with your forearm; always remember not to adjust the angle too much.

There are a lot of differences between shakehand and penhold grip.

On the surface level, shakehand grip is an excellent ‘all-rounder’ and straightforward method. It does not specify advantage over speed, accuracy or control, but equally response to those three areas. This method is considered a relatively simple way for beginners and intermediate players to take up.

PROS CONS
  • The power is equally distributed across forehand and backhand strokes, altogether disable the needs to change grips during mid-play
  • The easiest method to learn and practice
  • Most coaches and professional players support this method.
  • Due to its simplicity, your opponent can somewhat predict the ball’s direction.
  • When facing a tough opponent, more time is needed to decide whether the forehand or backhand

What I have been writing above is just a surface understanding of the shakehand grip, now I will introduce you the in-depth guide on how to master this style.

There are two primary styles of shakehand grip: Shallow and Deep.

Deep shakehand grip

Deep shakehand grip focuses on a more relaxable thumb position, which will make your strike more powerful but in turn, lose some accuracy. Your thumb should relax against the rubber, pointing upwards to around 10 o’clock. This method is used when a player has an explosive backhand stroke, thus enabling you to put more power and spin into your returns.

Deep Shakehand grip Forehand & Backhand
Deep Shakehand grip Forehand & Backhand

Shallow shakehand grip

This is a more natural starting point for most players. In order to hold a table tennis paddle following this style, you should place your thumb just underneath the rubber part, opposite to your index finger. This method provides a more balanced experience and flexible footwork. Forehand and Backhand stroke is equally supported by this grip.

Shallow Shakehand grip Forehand & Backhand
Shallow Shakehand grip Forehand & Backhand

There are many professional players using Shakehand grip frequently in their career such as Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Vladimir Samsonov, and Timo Boll.

Chinese Penhold Grip

Another playing technique that would be a good fit for the new players who are interested in table tennis would be the conventional Chinese penhold grip. The most famous player who uses the penhold grip is Ma Lin. It consists of the index finger and the thumb holding on to the table tennis racket handle when the other three fingers are curled around the backside of the racket. The main idea behind this efficient grip is to simply ensure that the player is comfortable while handling the ping pong paddle.

Penhold grip gives the player an advantage on the forehand, thus enabling you to serve more effectively. However, this type has an inherent weakness on the backhand, requiring the player a certain skilled set of footwork.

Penhold grip Forehand & Backhand
Penhold grip Forehand & Backhand

This grip is named penhold is because it resembles holding an actual pen and is a reasonably common grip. This method is previously the preferred and dominant technique in Asia. Besides, it is considered an elegant but powerfully effective way of controlling the ball. The exact style may vary from player to player due to the different hand positions and the advantages they hold, altogether utilize from holding your paddle as if you were holding a pen. Therefore, the most short-handed paddle is used for a penhold grip.

The one thing that Penhold grips have in common is the ways you lay your thumb and your index finger. For the beginner, first open your thumb and index finger to form a C-shaped position, from here you need to place the handle of your paddle facing down into the middle of your thumb and your forefinger. After that, your thumb should press loosely into the rubber on the paddle, while your index finger side rests where the rubber on the paddle begins. Keep in mind that they should not touch altogether.

PROS CONS
  • Increased control
  • Have an individual ‘style’ compared to other grips
  • Harder to predict
  • More comfortable to spin the ball
  • Difficult to learn and understand
  • Restricted footwork
  • New learners may find it uncomfortable to practice

There are some variations put into this style, such as:

  • Placing the thumb near parallel with the blade while the index finger curves the racket.
  • Creating a varying gap between the thumb and the index finger
  • Allowing the index finger to overlap the inch slightly
  • For further convenience and comfort, you can just let the remaining fingers touch the blade
  • Moving the position of these remaining fingers on the back of the blade, middle or even placing them on the base as it best suits you.

Compare penhold vs shakehand

Hand GripPROS CONS
Shakehand Grip
  • The power is equally distributed across forehand and backhand strokes, altogether disable the needs to change grips during mid-play
  • The easiest method to learn and practice
  • Most coaches and professional players support this method.
  • Due to its simplicity, your opponent can somewhat predict the ball’s direction.
  • When facing a tough opponent, more time is needed to decide whether the forehand or backhand
Penhold Grip
  • Increased control
  • Have an individual ‘style’ compared to other grips
  • Harder to predict
  • More comfortable to spin the ball
  • Difficult to learn and understand
  • Restricted footwork
  • New learners may find it uncomfortable to practice

In conclusion, there are many ways to hold a ping pong paddle properly. The more proper you hold, the more chance you will outplay your opponents. The aforementioned guidelines are a summary of all playstyles, as well as pros and cons and differences. I hope that from this post you will find a perfect method to practice and take your skills to the next level.

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