Table tennis shakehand grip: Where to put your finger?

Table tennis shakehand grip: Where to put your finger?

Welcome to EmRatThich channel. Today is the 5th Ping Sunday. I will explain the last and the most important key point/tips of a table tennis shakehand grip and also the Reverse Penhold grip based on Chinese coaching. The first 2 key points of holding a table tennis racket have been explained in the previous video: Use the muscle group 2 to hold your racket, and a compact grip will increase the freedom of the wrist.

What is a good shakehand grip?

I will explain in this video the last key point in the “3 principles to have a good table tennis grip”. This key point is the most important as it is the key of “explosiveness” in Chinese philosophy about table tennis stroke.

Always pinch your racket (shakehand grip) best tips to improve power and quality in table tennis
Always pinch your racket (shakehand grip) best tips to improve power and quality in table tennis

This key point is less emphasized in the Western table tennis coaching program. But if you master this key point, the quality (spin+speed) of your stroke will increase dramatically. Now, let’s talk about the 3rd principle of “Where to put your finger on the shakehand grip”

Learn from Xu Ruifeng

Do you know this Chinese guy? He is Xu Ruifeng, Chinese table tennis team player, ITTF World Junior Championship 2007.
Why his ball is very fast and powerful? It’s a combination of several factors: his technique, his racket, his rubber. But look at the way how he holds his racket.

Have you mentioned something?

Chinese player has a solid foundation of the grip
Chinese player has a solid foundation of the grip

He holds his racket loosely. Before receiving the ball, he loosens his grip and you can see that he always drops the head of his racket down. His racket is rather heavy, and by holding only by the muscle group 2, his racket always points downward before any stroke.

He shakes his racket (the sign of relax phase)
He shakes his racket (the sign of relaxing phase)

You can see that he shakes his racket a little before receiving the ball. Why? It’s just a normal sign of the “relax phase”. Before hitting the ball, you should be relaxed. Do you remember the 3 phases “Relax, Explode, Relax” which I have explained to you before?

However, there is one thing that you cannot see in the video. That’s how he applies the pressure on the blade. It’s impossible to see this aspect, even in the real match unless the player or the coach tells you the secret. This is the 3rd key point I will show you now.

But wait! Toni has shared his experiences of how to hold the racket correctly.

I watched this video yesterday morning, and in the afternoon I try to hold my racket with my thumb and index finger. Then my friend say “Hey, you are playing in different level now!”. Hahaha! Thank you so much sir! All your videos make me improve so fast. Lot of my friend shocked with that!

Spyro Fury also shared his moment of trying the muscle group 2 to hold his racket. –> the moment of “cracking sound” 🙂

It’s funny that the very first time I tried to hold exercise my wrist make a cracking noise by rotating it and pressuring the bottom 3 fingers while I didn’t do that with the thumb and pointing finger. It shows the legetimacy of your advice. I did hold it the right way before since you explained the flare handle blade video which really helped me improve putting extra power and spin on the ball. Thank you!

And now, the 3rd key point: it is all about the thumb, the index finger, and how to apply pressure.

That is also the question of Nikola: placement of the thumb.

What is the exact placement of the thumb? How and where it should be placed?

That is also the question of Ratz: the thumb position and pressure.

I struggle with my grip trying to hold the bat correctly. Especially with the thumb position. I was hoping somebody can say something in this respect, as the coaches in my club teach obsolete techniques apparently. Thanks.

This is a very good question. The coach in his club didn’t answer him.

Thumb and Index position

Firstly, your thumb must be put here, on the edge of the handle. This place on the handle is designed to put your thumb on. That’s why every table tennis handle (Straight, Flare, Conic) must have this edge. This edge is crucial, as it must be flat and large enough so you can apply the pressure on the thumb.

The thumb position on the edge of the handle (shakehand grip) (Viscaria ST)
The thumb position on the edge of the handle (shakehand grip) (Viscaria ST)

Second, once the thumb position is fixed, don’t move the thumb. The thumb is the most important landmark/point of reference in your grip. So don’t move the thumb. However, you can move the index finger.

Don't move the thumb position
Don’t move the thumb position

Third, now you must put your index finger at the opposite side exactly of the thumb position. These 2 positions of the thumb and the index are very important. As it makes a perfect plier to pinch your racket.

Index and Thumb finger should be a pinch (perfect grip for shakehand style)
Index and Thumb finger should be a pinch (perfect grip for shakehand style)

Look how Timo Boll applied the pressure during the forehand shot.

Always pinch your racket (shakehand grip) best tips to improve power and quality in table tennis
Always pinch your racket (shakehand grip) best tips to improve power and quality in table tennis

Finger position for the backhand stroke

During your backhand stroke (BH), you can move your thumb higher to support your backhand stroke. But just after the stroke, the thumb must be always returned to its original position: on the edge.

Move your thumb finger higher to support backhand stroke (Tomokazu)
Move your thumb finger higher to support backhand stroke (Tomokazu)

Finger position for the forehand stroke

For your Forehand stroke (FH), you can support your forehand by putting your index finger higher (look at the photo). But your thumb must be fixed, always on the edge.

Forehand stroke with Timo Boll
Forehand stroke with Timo Boll
The thumb is always on the edge
The thumb is always on the edge

Know how to apply the pressure (like a pro)

How about “Applying the pressure” during the FH and BH stroke?

How to apply the pressure during the stroke is the “heart” of the explosiveness. It’s not new for many Chinese coaches. However, not many Western coach or players know the truth behind it.

Applying the pressure at the moment of contact can dramatically increase the speed + spin of the ball. (It’s like you whip and suddenly pull it back, the art of whip cracking). All the top Chinese players apply the pressure at the moment of contact.

Proof? Show me the proof?

Look at the weird face of many top players at the moment of contact. The neuroscience explained that when you apply the force on your hand suddenly and strongly, you also use another muscle group including your face’s muscle. It’s the mechanism of brain signal to several muscle groups.

Weird face shows the pressure and the muscle tension at the moment of contact (Zhang Jike)
Weird face shows the pressure and the muscle tension at the moment of contact (Zhang Jike)

Now you understand why the table tennis player has “a strange face” when hitting the ball. It’s because they are trying to add extra force at the moment of contact by adding the pressure on the grip.

Remember to explode and transfer the force to the finger at the moment of contact
Remember to explode and transfer the force to the finger at the moment of contact
Neuroscience has explained this
Neuroscience has explained this

Shakehand grip for forehand

Some peoples say that “You press your thumb during your Backhand stroke, and press your index finger during your Forehand stroke”.

Others say that you should press both the thumb and the index finger.

But the truth is: for your FH stroke, you apply the pressure only on your index finger because of the nature of this stroke. This stroke is a long stroke and very powerful, your thumb does not support this type of stroke.

Only pressure on index finger (Forehand topspin loop)
Only use the pressure on the index finger (Forehand topspin loop)

Shakehand grip for backhand

For your Backhand stroke, you should apply the pressure on both fingers: index and thumb. As the BH stroke is very quick, explosive in a short distance. You also use your wrist to rotate quickly. That’s why you must press the 2 fingers to pinch your racket firmly. If not, the racket will fly away.

Move your thumb finger higher to support backhand stroke (Tomokazu)
Move your thumb finger higher to support backhand stroke (Tomokazu)

Should I change the grip in table tennis

Can I change the grip during the transition of BH-FH or FH-BH?

Lipinski asked: Can I change my grip when I switch from FH-BH.

For this question, some coaches affirm that you must use the same grip for both your BH and FH stroke for the reason of consistency. Another coach says that you can change the grip during the rallies.

Chinese philosophy about table tennis grip allows you to change the grip if you have enough time. For a quick rally on the table, you shouldn’t change the grip.

Based on Chinese coaching, you can change the grip during the rally
Based on Chinese coaching, you can change the grip during the rally

But if you have time (far from the table counter attack or smashing), you can change the grip. However, you must follow the 3rd principle. You must ensure the thumb position and apply the pressure at the moment of contact correctly.

Ma Long's grip during a forehand smash
Ma Long’s grip during a forehand smash

You can see that, the chinese players change the grip to optimize the power of his smash.

Zhang Jike grip always follow the 3rd principle of table tennis
Zhang Jike grip always follow the 3rd principle of table tennis

The index finger is moved up, but the thumb is always at its position.

Ma Long is changing grip for the forehand smash
Ma Long is changing grip for the forehand smash

For further information, you can read “How to use the finger effectively“.

That’s it for today. I even don’t have enough time to talk about the Penhold Grip. I will explain it next Ping Sunday.

Conclusions

So the 3rd principle of holding a table tennis racket based on Chinese philosophy is the most important one of the 3 keypoints:

  • – Your thumb on the blade is a landmark. Very important!
  • – Index finger combines with thumb finger to apply pressure
  • – Apply pressure at the moment of contact is the key for a high quality ball.

 

You should also know where to apply the pressure:

  • – Move your index finger if you want to support your FH stroke
  • – Apply the pressure only on the index finger for your FH stroke
  • – You can move your thumb a little higher for your BH stroke. But your thumb should be always on the edge
  • – Apply pressure on both thumb and index finger during the BH stroke.

It’s the time for you to practice and try it yourself:

  • – Topspin or push the ball without the finger pressure as you do usually
  • – Now, press your index and thumb finger at the moment you contact the ball.

You can feel the difference. You will “feel” the ball better now.
You can also add the extra power to your shot. Speed and spin will increase.

I hope you enjoy this video. I’m very busy and I’m sorry that I couldn’t answer all of your comment. But I will try my best to give you the coaching video next PingSunday. Please comment and let me know your progress. Your progress motivates me a lot. See you.

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