Table tennis grips: Pros and Cons

Table tennis grips: Pros and Cons

How to choose the best table tennis grips that suit your playing style? Today I explain to you 2 thing:

  1. how to hold the table tennis correctly!
  2. and how to choose the right handle for your racket.

Chinese coach focuses a lot on table tennis grip. Read the best tips from Chinese coach for the grip here.

3 types of table tennis grips:

In general, there are 3 main grips in table tennis: shakehand grip (or European grip), penhold grip (Chinese grip), and Japanese/Korean Penhold grip (variation of penhold style). There is also a small variation like: V-grip (American style), pistol grip (unorthodox style).

Each type of grips has some pros and cons.

  • Shakehand grip: balance and adaptive
  • Penhold grip: deceptive and 3rd ball attack
  • Japan/Korean grip: Powerful block on 2 sides
  • V-grip: fast attack on the forehand
  • Pistol grip: Easiness to spin
Liu Guoliang explained about penhold grip of Ryu Seung-min
Liu Guoliang explained about penhold grip of Ryu Seung-min

Nowadays, most of the table tennis player will choose to play “shakehand”. It’s considered as the modern table tennis grip. China is the only country that promotes the conventional “penhold style”.

It’s important to keep the style of penhold because of its flexibility and variation. It is part of the beauty of table tennis.

I think that table tennis coach should help promote penhold to western players.

Korean/Japanese penhold grip limits the use of reverse backhand penholder
Korean/Japanese penhold grip limits the use of reverse backhand penholder

Comparision of shakehand versus penhold:

  • Shakehand grips propose many advantages: the balance between forehand and backhand. Power away from the table. No weakness at the two wide sides. Aggressiveness to return the ball (with the backhand flick over the table).
  • There are some advantages of penhold that many people don’t think about. Such as the wrist flexibility close to the table, the ability to quickly change directions without making it obvious the way shakehand is (for example, flick is very easy to see for shakehand, but you can make it much more deceptive for penhold)
  • Penhold doesn’t have the “elbow weakness” because penhold style covers very well in front of the body. The main weakness of “shakehand grip” is the elbow.
  • You follow, and attack to the elbow! It’s deadly to the shakehand player!
Comparision Table
Shakehand vs Penhold grip
Shakehand Penhold
Pros balance between forehand and backhand deceptive serve and 3rd ball attack
Forehand Forehand
Forehand Power 9 10
Forehand flexibility Normal High
Forehand cover Good Very Good
Forehand flick Average Good
Backhand
Backhand Power 8 5
Backhand flexibility High Weak
Backhand cover Good Weak
Backhand flick Good Good and Deceptive
Backhand loop Good Average (without RPB)
Basic Strokes Basic Strokes
Elbow weakness Very weak No
Service Good Very Good
Third ball attack Good Very Good
Quick rally - counter attack Good Bad
Require Balance footwork Quick footwork

Keep the beauty of penhold style:

I encourage coaches to not just give a shake hand paddle to every kid, but to choose some of the kids that are quick to adapt to try penhold.

Xu Xin's style is so beautiful!
Xu Xin’s style is so beautiful!

How to hold the bat correctly

I will explain to you how to hold the table tennis bat/racket correctly by using the to Chinese coaching.

“Holding a table tennis racket” is the first table tennis lesson. Having a good grip in table tennis is crucial as it allows you to optimize your technique.

Without a correct grip, you cannot do the strokes correctly and never improve to a high level of table tennis.

What does the correct shakehand grip look like? Here you are!

Learn to hold on the first day

Some coaches didn’t correct the grip or didn’t show their players how to hold the bat correctly at the beginning. That’s the main reason that the players never progress or just improve slowly.

The coach just said “Hey, pick up your racket and start training on the table”.

It’s not a good way of coaching the beginner player.

In China, the coach shows the principles of the grip and lets the young kids play with the ball (without the table) at least one week. The kids must feel his racket and adapt his grip. This first lesson is very important as the grip will stay with you all of your table tennis life.

Learning good grip is your first table tennis lesson
Learning good grip is your first table tennis lesson

The key points to hold the bat correctly explained by Chinese coach

Liu Guoliang gives us a good introduction that to grip the bat based on your playing style.

Holding your racket is the first and the basic technique that you should master!

These are the example of good grips that you should learn. The grip of professional table tennis player is worth studying. You can modify your grip based on your penhold style or shakehand style.

Xu Xin's grip: Effective to play away from the table. But weak at backhand's attack.
Xu Xin’s grip: Effective to play away from the table. But weak at backhand’s attack.
  • Penhold style:

Wang Hao always has 2 fingers on the bat at all time, so he can have a very good Reverse Penhold Backhand. These fingers serve as a good support for your backhand.
The thumb is on the forehand rubber and is not as deep as Ryu Seung Min’s forehand grip.

wang hao's grip: Modified Chinese Penhold grip style
wang hao’s grip: Modified Chinese Penhold grip style

While Ryu Seung Min‘s forehand grip is “deeper” (his thumb is very forward), his traditional backhand grip is different. His fingertips don’t touch the rubber.

Ryu Seung-min's grip: Traditional Jpen grip. Only block, and drive at the backhand side
Ryu Seung-min’s grip: Traditional Jpen grip. Only block, and drive at the backhand side

Ma Lin is somewhat in between. Liu Guoliang says if you want a good backhand like Wang Hao to use Wang Hao’s grip. If you want good forehand use Ryu Seung Min’s grip. If you want a good third ball, serve, and serve return, use Ma lin’s grip.

ma lin's grip: Traditional oldschool penhold Chinese style
ma lin’s grip: Traditional old-school penhold Chinese style
  • Shakehand style:

Timo Boll‘s grip is very narrow and a clearly Forehand oriented grip. The index is very high and can support your Forehand stroke.

timo boll's grip: European style and forehand favorite grip. He does change grip during rallies.
Timo Boll’s grip: European style and forehand favorite grip. He does change grip during rallies.

Zhang Jike and Ma Long have the different position of thumb and index finger.

His grip is very compact. The thumb is a little bit higher which support his backhand.

Zhang Jike's grip: shakehand style with backhand favorite grip
Zhang Jike’s grip: shakehand style with backhand favorite grip

While Ma Long’s grip is forehand/counter loop oriented.

Ma Long's grip: modern shakehand grip and forehand dominant style
Ma Long’s grip: modern shakehand grip and forehand dominant style

Bonus coaching tips:

These are the bonus part that I answer your questions. Ask me any question in the Contact Form.

Hold your racket and “loop at the side of the body”

This is not related to table tennis grip. But it’s a simple tip to improve the power of your forehand loop.

Best position to forehand loop in table tennis
The best position to forehand loop in table tennis
  • Look at the Figure a. Don’t hit when the ball is still traveling in front of you because the ball is out of the optimal range of hitting.
    Hit when the ball is on your side, on the x-axis because it’s the best position to apply the force and to follow through and support the ball (add power and spin).
  • Please also remember to rotate your hip around the axis as shown in Figure b.
  • If the ball goes directly to your body, you need to move to the left and hit the ball in its optimal zone (Figure c)

Improve the mental strength in table tennis

Some player plays very well during training but plays badly during a real match. How to play well during the match.

Yes, I’ve coached many young players like you and I understand well the problem. Young players have the mental weakness and the performance during the match is not as stable as adult players.

Personal coach ensures the best tactics in the critical situations in the match.

I can give you 3 tips to improve your mental weakness:

  1. Don’t think about the score of the set. As when you think about the score, you just want to finish the match and lose your concentration. Just play each point! And say yourself “I don’t want to finish the match, I just want to finish this point”.
  2. Slow down the rhythm of the match. You have many tools: Drink water, talk with your coach, time out, sweep your hand, look far away. Slow down to regain your concentration.
  3. In some situation, that’s not your fault to miss the ball. It’s just because the opponent has increased the quality of his shot (spin and speed). So if you continue to miss the ball, ask your coach to change the tactics.

Table tennis grip tapes

If you have any problem with your blade handle, you should use a table tennis grip tapes. Why?

Because if your table tennis handle is too slim, too thin, it will affect your game. A too thin handle is very dangerous because your blade can fly away any time.

table tennis grip tape is a solution for too slim and narrow handle
table tennis grip tape is a solution for too slim and narrow handle

Or you need to hold your racket tightly, and you know “Holding too tight your racket will kill your game“!

Should I use a table tennis tape?

Yes! Using a table tennis grip can enhance your execution of shots and improve your game.

The grip tape is normally very light and thin! It only adds about 2g – 3g to your blade. However, it is sticky/ grippy, which can enhance your grip and your feeling.

Which are the best table tennis tape?

You can buy the tape from Butterfly, NittakuXiom or Paddle Palace.

Nittaku grip tape will do the job perfectly! That’s the one that I like the most!

Nittaku table tennis grip tape Very high quality tape
Nittaku table tennis grip tape Very high-quality tape

Nittaku Table Tennis Bat Wrap Handle Grip is useful! And they last for a long time! At least 3 years if you keep your handle properly.

Xiom Table Tennis Racket Grip Tape
Xiom Table Tennis Racket Grip Tape

Xiom or Paddle Palace is another cheaper solutions if you don’t buy the Butterfly or Nittaku grip tape.

You can also buy some cheap Anti-Slip Sweat Absorbing Soft Grip Tape from China.

Order Butterfly table tennis soft grip tape here.

Or buy XIOM Table Tennis Racket Grip Tape GT1 Excellent Pingpong Paddle Grip Tape, Made in Korea (2 Grip Tapes in a Package) here.

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