The initial steps when taking up any sports will be a bit overwhelming. Whether you’re playing ping pong as a leisure sport or professionally, learning how to hold the paddle is a must. How to hold a ping pong paddle? In this article, I will show you the right grips to hold the paddle or blade properly like a professional.
1. How To Hold A Ping Pong Paddle
Usually, ping pong players will hold the Paddle in two common ways:
- The Shakehand Grip
- The Penhold Grip
The above are grips preferred and most used among professional players. After you have mastered the above two grips, I would recommend the following methods. Although they are not as common as the two aforementioned ways, they are especially useful in some situations.
- Reverse Backhand Penhold
- The Orthodox grip
1.1 The Shakehand Grip
Its name comes from the position of the players’ hands, it looks like they are shaking someone else’s hand. The general rule of this grip is to use 3 fingers to hold the handle (middle finger, ring finger, and your little finger).
The index finger touches the back of the rubber and the thumb is on the front side of the paddle. With The Shakehand Grip, there are two subtypes: Deep Shakehand and Shallow Shakehand.
The Shakehand Grip – A natural way to handle the paddle
The Shallow Shakehand
The hand position is similar to the standard Shakehand Grip, but the thumb and index finger will relax a bit more. Your index finger should rest on the handle, you should not grip or hold it firmly.
And the index finger is placed just below the rubber part of the paddle. This is the easiest and effective grip that I would recommend for any newbies. It also helps you avoid hand fatigue when holding the paddle for a long time.
- Feeling natural, comfortable, avoid muscular fatigue
- Flexible wrist, faster wrist reflex
- Use both forehand or backhand of the paddle
- Attack power is not so strong
- Crossover delay (Crossover point is when you decide to do a forehand or backhand stroke to gain a point advantage)
The Deep Shakehand
You also follow the basic principles of the standard Shakehand Grip grip. However, the index finger is kept near the edge of the paddle, which is different from its resting position in the Shallow grip.
Your thumb raises slightly above pointing to the 10 o’clock direction, for a more powerful grip. This grip still allows a comfortable and natural hand position.
However, you have better firmness than a Shallow grip. This is also the reason for the less flexible wrist. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of The Deep Shakehand
- Comfortable, natural feel, easy for newbies to pick up
- Use both forehand or backhand of the paddle
- Attack power is stronger, accuracy also increases
- The wrist is not as flexible as the Shallow Shakehand.
- Crossover delay is still the minus point of Deep Shakehand Grip
1.2 The Penhold Grip
To do this hand posture accurately, you should imagine holding the handle of the paddle the way holding a pen to write. This grip is originated from Asian countries such as China and Japan.
I will explain the specific style of each country in the next part. The most significant advantage of Penhold Grip is that it adds more spin and twist to the ball. The path of the ball when you return will be unpredictable and much more challenging for the opponent. Therefore, it is favored by professional players.
The Chinese Penhold
In Chinese Penhold Grip, the paddle faces down. You need to grab one end of the handle with your thumb and forefinger to form a C-shaped gesture as shown below.
The other fingers are placed equidistantly on the back of the paddle. The thumb will hold the front paddle and press it down a bit to gain more firmness and stability. Meanwhile, the forefinger will be more relaxed, to allow more flexibility.
The thumb and forefinger need to form a C shape to have better grip
- Athletes exert more control over the paddle
- Return the ball with a more powerful and challenging path
- Players have flexible wrist to spin the ball
- Take more time to get the gesture right, applied mainly by professionals
- Difficult to move the hand, players need more time to master
The Japanese Penhold (or Korean Penhold)
The biggest difference between Japanese Penhold Style and Chinese Penhold style is the placement of three fingers in the back. The thumb and the index fingers still form a C shape as mentioned above. But they come a bit closer together. More importantly, the middle, ring, and little fingers lay straight against the back of the paddle.
Hand position of the middle, ring, and little fingers in The Japanese Penhold Style
- Provide an advantage in power because both index finger and thumb are behind the contact point to add to the force of the stroke
- Restricted flexibility. The backhand is more hampered, players mainly use the forehand to return the ball.
2. Reverse Penhold Grip
This is a variation of The Chinese Penhold. As I mentioned earlier, the Chinese Penhold players will return the ball with the front paddle surface. And it will be difficult to turn their wrists to hit the ball with the back of the paddle.
However, professional players will practice mastering their use of the paddle’s back. The Reverse Backhand Penhold is a challenging way to hold the ping pong paddle. But it will be especially useful when the ball flies at high speed.
Players can react quickly or hit the ball when it is near the corner of the table. Therefore, it allows players to achieve a heavy topspin with a powerful and versatile return, but it is very difficult to master.
Top ping pong players often use the Reverse Penhold grip, Source: Wikihow
3. The Orthodox Grip
In the orthodox grip, the padđle is considered an extension of your arm. Orthodox Grip is a proper way to hold a ping pong paddle. The Orthodox Grip is also quite comfortable to do without hand fatigue.
Players would feel very convenient and hit the ball with precision. They don’t have to move or change positions much. This is a fairly easy and practical position for starters. As it involves fewer technical gestures which requires much time to learn.
Players can have benefited from the flexibility because they can easily switch to other hand positions. A disadvantage of this grip is the lack of sufficient power. Therefore, it is often used in combination with other methods.
The Orthodox grip is an easy posture for newbies
4. The Right Grip for You
This comes down to each individual as any grips have both pros and cons. As you practice, you will get used to using a certain hand position. All the grips above are used by some of the world’s top ping pong players.
If you start with the most suitable position, then add more grips along the way. Once you have mastered the grips, you would feel comfortable combining techniques to best return the ball.
Above are the correct ways to hold the ping pong paddles. It’s not hard to get started, but try to get it right from the beginning. You should try the Shakehand Grips first because it is quite natural and easy to make progress.
From that, you can gain more confidence to try out other techniques. And it’s excellent to have an experienced trainer or player to give you good input and valuable instructions.