When watching a table tennis game, you probably notice how the players are holding their paddles differently. They may be playing the same sport, but they have different grips and techniques that allow them to control the ball in various ways.
One of the most important aspects of table tennis is your grip because how you hold your paddle can make or break your game. If you want to improve your table tennis skills, you should understand how to hold a paddle correctly and in a way that is effective and comfortable for you.
In this article, we’ll go through the different ping pong grips and share some tips on how to master your table tennis grip.
Different Types of Table Tennis Grips
Apart from skills, techniques, footwork, and hand-eye coordination, one of the crucial things you need to learn is how to hold your paddle. Before you learn swinging and putting angles to your shots, you should be familiar with your grip.
If you know how to hold it correctly, you can precisely serve the ball. Having a correct grip will also improve your control and accuracy and will help you put more spin on your ball during the games.
Experts and coaches recommend different grips, depending on the player and the playing style. Here are the common types of table tennis grips you should know about:
Named after the familiar hand position of a handshake, the Shakehand Grip is widely used in both Western and Asian countries. It is a popular choice for table tennis players as it is the most comfortable way to hold your paddle.
The shakehand grip provides an optimal balance of speed, spin, and control. It allows an easy transition from forehand and backhand shots while still giving control over your paddle. It also allows you to have a free-flowing game with greater precision and accuracy.
To maximize the efficiency of a shakehand grip, ensure that your index finger is lightly pressing on the backside of the paddle. It provides greater control and stability while playing table tennis. Without the index finger at the back, you may struggle to keep a firm grip on your paddle while making shots, unable to gauge which direction its face is pointing.
You should also mind your grip pressure. Holding your grip too tight will constrain the mobility of your wrists, making it impossible to generate spin. Rather, keep a light grip on the paddle to enable smooth wrist motions. As an indication, if someone attempts to remove the paddle from your hand and succeeds with less effort, then you’re holding it the right way.
There are two kinds of shakehand grip:
Players who prefer topspins, loops, and loop drives use shallow shakehand grips. Also, players who prefer smashing, driving, or hitting the ball opt for this type of grip as it requires a moderate to fast speed and little-to-no topspin.
With the shallow shakehand grip, your thumb will rest on the paddle’s blade, allowing greater wrist movement and extended reach to hit from both sides of the table.
Those who attack with backspin choose this grip. For a successful defensive stroke, players must have absolute paddle control – something they can achieve with the deep shakehand grip because it doesn’t rely on wrist power or flexibility.
When using a deep shakehand grip, your thumb rests on the rubber pad, minimizing wrist mobility while providing a firmer grasp. It enables you to generate stronger strokes and maximize power output.
The Penhold Grip gets its name from how it’s held- like how one would grip and hold a pen. The paddle is kept upright with the blade pointing up while the paddle’s edge is facing down.
Players with penhold grip usually stay close to the table, pushing and blocking with their backhand while attacking with forehands through a drive, topspin shots, or looping strokes.
The penhold grip is a popular choice for Asian players, with Olympic champions Ma Lin of China and Ryu Seungmin of Korea using this technique. With the classic penhold grip, you’ll tuck your blade’s edge between the V of your hand and thumb, curl your index fingers and thumb around it, resting them on its rubber.
Unlike the shakehand style, there’s no crossover point or moment of hesitation for penhold grip players. You can use one side of your paddle to execute both forehand and backhand shots – a big bonus when you need quick adaptation from unexpected plays.
The signature characteristic of this grip is that the blade is facing the ground, which is more suited to playing near the table. Moreover, your wrist will have more flexibility than the handshake grip, allowing you to put more spin into the ball.
One of the most distinctive features of this grip is that the blade is facing downward, making it optimal for playing closer to the table. Compared with the shakehand grip, the Chinese penhold grip gives your wrist more flexibility, allowing you to put more spin when hitting the ball.
Players who use penhold grip push and block with their backhand while attacking with forehands through a drive, topspin shots, or looping strokes.
For the Korean penhold grip, fingers on the back of the paddle should be held straight rather than curved. The index and thumb are used to hold onto the front side of a blade handle, which is favored by table tennis players that attack with forehand strokes.
With this grip, players have greater strength when attacking with their forehand side due to the extra firmness of extended fingers. Additionally, it facilitates dynamic wrist movement for more powerful spins and serves.
However, executing backhand topspins can be challenging because the extended fingers limit movement on the stroke. Furthermore, it needs a lot of strength and agility to enable quick footwork.
Reverse Penhold Grip
When playing with the reverse penhold grip, you must place your fingers in the same manner as for a traditional Chinese grip. However, this technique also includes using the back of the paddle to return shots from your backhand side.
Table tennis players who play heavy topspin on both sides prefer this kind of grip. It allows them to execute powerful topspin backhand shots with broad reach. However, the downside of the reverse penhold grip is that it can cause hesitation. It may also reduce your ability to produce topspins with little side spin on the backhand side.
The V-grip technique involves the blade wedged between your index and middle fingers, creating a ‘V’ formation. Once in place, curl down these digits to secure the paddle while wrapping around its handle with your ring finger and pinky. Where you rest your thumb will depend entirely on what feels best for you.
Using this grip, you will have a much larger reach, increased leverage, and power, as well as more spin when playing offensive shots. This kind of grip also permits wide-angled strokes and greater control over the ball.
One of its drawbacks is that the balls aimed at a player’s elbow can be tricky to return correctly, mainly due to the quick footwork needed when backhand and forehand strokes overlap.
It is still in its experimental stages and will need more time to determine if it has the potential to become a popular option among players.
Best Way to Hold a Ping Pong Paddle
The Shallow Shakehand grip is an excellent choice if you’re starting with table tennis. It offers superior balance to beginners and is a relatively straightforward form of holding your ping pong paddle compared to other grips. Its natural feel makes learning how to play much less intimidating and more enjoyable.
For attacking players
To successfully execute an attacking play style in table tennis, one must have a high degree of flexibility and wrist agility. Many known attackers swear by two ping-pong grips: penhold grip and deep shakehand grip. These two styles will help you take your offensive moves to the next level.
Mastering Your Table Tennis Grip
You can quickly hone your mastery of the grip by building up from the fundamentals, such as a topspin shot and a fast serve. Control over these will give you more confidence in the paddle when doing more complex strokes.
As you continue to practice and compete with your paddle grip, you will eventually find the minor tweaks necessary, such as how tightly or loosely to hold the paddle or where precisely on the handle should each of your fingers go. These slight adjustments are key in optimizing your performance.
Remember that just because more table tennis players use the Shakehand grip doesn’t mean you should use it too.
Choose your grip depending on your level of play and personal preferences. Always consider the benefits it will bring your game but never compromise your comfort and ability to control the paddle.
Once you pick your grip, practice it until you become used to executing every stroke with it. As you go along, note the adjustments you need to make and pay attention to how it impacts your performance.
With consistent practice and refinement, your mastery of the table tennis grip will help you take your game to the next level and win more matches.