Table Tennis Grip Types: Pros and Cons

table tennis shakehand grip

Knowing the pros and cons of the various table tennis grips will help you make a better decision when choosing a grip type to play with. The grip is the foundation on which rests the successful execution of all of the different types of strokes.

The best players in the world have been training for thousands of hours on how to correctly hold the racket. The coaches understand that grasping the paddle the right way is the most important element that will allow you to perform well in a table tennis game.

Below we will discuss the most popular ping pong grip techniques and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The Shakehand Grip

This type of grip is common among the Western players but it has also spread throughout the Asian and European countries. The name is derived from the normal handshake because the player will grip the racket similar to someone who is about to give a handshake.

The main types of the shakehand grip are the shakehand deep grip and the shakehand shallow grip. These two are slightly different from each other and need a keen eye to notice the difference.

The main difference between the shallow and deep style is where the thumb is placed. For the deep grip, your thumb will relax on the rubber, while for the shallow grip, your thumb will relax on the blade. Thumb placement on the racket determines how accurate and fast you will be able to return the ball.

Shallow Shakehand Grip

table tennis shakehand shallow grip

A positive thing about the shallow grip is that it encourages wrist flexibility while playing which will increase your spin ability while performing serves or loops. It is a very natural grip for beginners to start with and it gives a very balanced overall feeling. This gives you a better chance of returning the ball on the table while attacking your opponent. Since this grip increases the amount of power given to the ball, it can be used with both the backhand and forehand strokes. This is an advantage because you will be able to attack the ball from either side of the table.

The disadvantage of the shallow grip is mainly called the crossover point. This means that you are likely to get in an area of indecision, whether to use backhand or forehand side. You have to be a sharp player to quickly decide which stroke to use and attack the ball.

We have a great guide to the best rackets out there. Most of them are shakehand style paddles.

Deep Shakehand Grip

table tennis shakehand deep grip

For this grip, the thumb relaxes on the racket’s rubber. This grip’s advantage is that it reduces wrist flexibility, hence providing a firm hold of the racket. This grip is best used for attacks that need to be precise and don’t need a lot of power. Sometimes it is important to be able to accurately place the ball close to the table’s edges if you are not in a position to attack.

This grip is suitable for both backhand and forehand attacks and it is easy to switch from side to side. Players who are very aggressive use the deep shakehand grip for smashing the ball as this type of stroke does not need wrist flexibility.

The disadvantage of the deep grip is the same one that shallow grip has – the crossover point. This indecision point can be a source of weakness where your opponent can decide to attack.

The Penhold Grip

table tennis penhold grip

The penhold grip is the second most popular grip used by table tennis players. Unlike the shakehand grip which has two types, the penhold has three different versions. It includes the Japanese or Korean grip, Chinese grip, and reverse backhand grip. The index finger and the thumb are usually at the front of the handle, and the other three fingers are folded behind the racket’s head. The penhold grip is derived from the way one holds a pen to write.

Chinese Penhold Grip

table tennis chinese penhold grip

This version is common among Asian players. Holding a racket with the blade facing the ground is the defining characteristic of the Chinese penhold grip. It is best used by players who prefer staying close to the table.

The positive aspect of this grip is that your wrist will be more flexible than with the shakehand grips. A flexible wrist will allow you to put massive spin in your attacking strokes as well as in your serves.

Another advantage is that it is easy to block and push the ball on the backhand side because you can freely bend your wrist for both forehand and backhand strokes. This also takes care of the shakehand’s grip main disadvantage, the crossover point.

The main weakness of using this grip is that backhand topspin will be pretty difficult to perform on a regular basis. You will have to twist your arm into different positions which will drain your stamina fast, decreasing the quality of your strokes throughout the game.

Japanese or Korean Grip

table tennis japanese/korean penhold grip

The difference between the Korean grip and Chinese grip is that the fingers on the back of the bat are straightened rather than curled. The advantages of this grip are that the straightening of the fingers behind the bat will add more power for forehand strokes. Unlike the Chinese grip, a player can easily attack a ball while standing far from the table.

The disadvantage is that the straight fingers restrict blade movement, therefore it becomes challenging to adjust the racket in different angles to reach the ball. It is difficult for beginners to master this technique.

Reverse Backhand Grip

The normal penhold grip uses the same racket side for both backhand and forehand strokes. For this style, you can also use the backside of the paddle. The advantage of this grip is that it eliminates the Chinese grip weakness by strengthening the backhand stroke. This is because of the free movement of the arm and the bat which makes it suitable for attacking short balls. You can interchangeably switch the Chinese grip with the reverse backhand grip for increased versatility.

The disadvantage of this technique is that it can be difficult to hit the ball across the net line. It also shares the same con as the shakehand style because of the point of indecision.

Which Grip is the Best?

It is worthwhile for beginners to use the shakehand grip because it is easy to learn. You should play for a while using all of the different grips to see what suits you best. However, it is important to choose a grip that boosts your stamina and makes you feel comfortable while playing.


  1. The deep shake hand grip is good because it helps someone to relax its hand its good for smashing, looping, pushing. I like it so much!

  2. Which brands have the longest handle. I use the deep shakepand grip but am a large guy and the handle always seems short.

    1. I have large hands and I use a deep shakehand grip with an anatomic (AN) handle, which fit my hand way better than a flared or straight handle. That way the grip doesn’t feel too short, since it is wider near the pointer finger knuckle.

    2. Just get a custom bat. It will be more expensive but it will suit your style the best. With a custom, you can make the handle as long as you want.

  3. Guys I need help I’ve been playing table tennis for one year now but my grip is unique I place my thumb behind the racket and rest of finger curve into holding the racket it give me advantage of more precise accuracy but highly difficult to do top spins , loops etc should I go with it or not and yes it give me some problems while playing back hand shots

    1. Hi Jawad,

      It sounds like you are using a beginner’s make-shift style for holding the racket. I would recommend changing to either the shakehand (easiest to learn quickly) or penholder style.

      It shouldn’t take you too long to adjust, and it will be a lot better for you in the long run. With the style you’re using, you’ll probably never be able to overcome the problems you are experiencing.

  4. I was taught to play by my partner , in China, so I only ever used the Chinese penhole grip. It’s just natural now and feels right. I don’t like the shake hand grip at all. Feel more In control with the penhold.

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