In table tennis, there are two primary ways of holding, or gripping, the
racquet. Each grip lends itself to a different style of play, and there are
pros and cons to each grip. The decision of which grip to use is an important
one for all new players.
This is the most popular grip, both in professional and recreational play.
The racquet is held, as the name suggests, like you would grip someone's
hand when shaking it. More specifically, the player's middle, ring, and
pinky fingers wrap around the handle of the racquet, lined up perpendicular
to the length of the racquet. The thumb and index finger are held on
opposite sides of the racquet, pointing straight out. The index finger should
rest on the bottom edge of the backhand face of the racquet.
The racquet itself is double-sided, i.e. it is covered with rubber on both
sides. This is one of the advantages of the shakehands grip, in that you can
use opposite sides of the racquet for forehands and backhands. This leads
to a more balanced style of play. It is also easier to defend (block)
using this grip. Probably more comfortable and intuitive as well, especially
for tennis players.
This grip is considered more traditional than the shakehands grip, and is
popular in Asia. The racquet is held vertically, like a pen, with the
handle resting between the thumb and index finger, which curve around the handle
to rest on the face of the racquet. The remaining fingers curl up and rest on
the back of the racquet.
With this grip, only one face of the racquet is used. Therefore, racquets
designed for this grip usually only have one face covered with rubber. The
major strength of the penholder grip is a very powerful forehand compared to
the shakehands grip. The forehand stroke has an uppercut motion, resulting in
lots of topspin. On the other hand, a penholder player generally has a weaker
backhand, especially when trying to defend shots.
As a general tip, regardless of which grip you decide to use, the racquet should
not be held too tightly nor too loosely. It should be loose enough so that
someone can easily take the racquet from your hand without prying your fingers
open, but not so loose that you'll accidentally throw your racquet while
performing a particularly vicious smash. The most important thing is for
the player to feel comfortable, as if the racquet were a natural extension of