How to Hold a Ping Pong Paddle: Types of Grips

Contrary to what you are taught by your coach, there are many different ways to grip your ping pong paddle. Some are more convenient than others, but it really depends on the type of grip that’s comfortable and most attuned to your skills and strengths. It’s also important to choose a paddle that works well with your hold.

Characteristics that Drive You: How to Hold a Ping Pong Paddle

The best way to hold a ping pong paddle is simply the way through which you can generate more power and play to your own strengths.

Attributes that influence your grip may include

  • Comfort
  • Social culture
  • Environment
  • Your strengths
  • Your opponent’s strength’s and weaknesses

Shakehand style grip is used most commonly in the West. It is considered to be the easiest way of holding a paddle. At the same time, most of the Japanese and Chinese players use the penhold grip. There are several variations to each grip and we will discuss these variations in addition to the multiple different types of grips.

What angle should you hold your ping pong paddle

Ping Pong Grips – Types of Ping Pong Paddle Holds

To understand how to hold a ping pong paddle, there are mainly two different types of grips and a few more variations that you should know, that are allowed as per the ping pong rules.

Shakehand Grip

Shakehand grip is considered to be the oldest grip style that has survived years of variations and modifications in table tennis. It is also the most used grip around the world and the easiest one to master.

For the shakehand grip, you extend your index finger over the racket head perpendicular to the handle. The thumb is resting on top of the other fingers which are encircling the handle. Shakehand grip, literally, looks like you are shaking hands with the paddle, hence the name. As far as even distribution between backhand and forehand shots is concerned, you will not find a better grip.

While all shakehand grips look the same from distance, there are two variations of the shakehand grip:

Shallow Shakehand Grip

The shallow shakehand grip is when the thumb rests on the blade and this allows for quicker readjustment of angles as the grip is not too firm. This freedom for moving your wrists is a big advantage for attack-minded players and allows for greater generation of spin, as well. It is also effective against short balls that the opponent might just lobby over.

Deep Shakehand Grip

The deep shakehand grip is ideal for defensive players because of the firmer grip on the handle. It is perfect for well-controlled shots that require lesser power, and it can be useful against attacking players as you can use their speed to play the defensive shots.

Pros of Shakehand

Each grip has its advantages and disadvantages. Most people decide on the grip based on their comfort but it is important to weigh the pros and cons before mastering a certain grip.


Unlike the other unusual grips, the shakehand grip is used globally and is highly comfortable. This increased comfortability of the shakehand grip is a major reason why people prefer playing with the shakehand grip.

Easy to Master

Anyone who starts playing table tennis can find it easy to master the shakehand grip, as it is quite similar to shaking hands. Other grips are common in different areas of the world but most of the West relies on the shakehand grip.

Increased Wrist Flexibility (Shallow Shakehand)

The increased wrist flexibility is a major advantage for shallow shakehand grip as it helps you play more attacking. You have an advantage while serving and looping and you can generate lots of spin and speed using either the forehand or the backhand.

Decreased Wrist Flexibility (Deep Shakehand)

This decrease in wrist flexibility is a big advantage if you are looking for greater controlled shots. It is useful in defense but also a major advantage if you play precise attacking shots that do not require great power.

How to hold a ping pong paddle - Shakehand Grip

Cons of Shakehand Grip

Crossover Point

The crossover point is the point of indecision where you decide whether to play the shot using the forehand or the backhand. The opponent can target the crossover point and use your indecision to his/her advantage.

Penhold Grip

The second most used grip by ping pong players around the world is the penhold grip. It is named penhold because the player holds the handle like a pen. You place the index finger and the thumb at the front of the handle while the other three fingers are folded behind the racket head.

There are three variations of the penhold grip and all three have different advantages and disadvantages.

Chinese Penhold Grip

The Chinese penhold grip is one of the most common variations of the penhold grip. The main characteristic of this grip is the manner in which the blade is facing the ground and it is ideal for players that play closer to the table.

Pros of the Penhold Grip

More Flexibility

If you found the shallow shakehand grip to be flexible then wait for the Chinese penhold grip! It offers increased flexibility, and as a result, you can generate lots of spin and speed in your attacking strokes.

Easy for Blocking/Pushing

The grip offers a lot of bend in your wrist and that means you can comfortably block and push the shots. If you struggle with the crossover point with the shakehand grip, this will take care of it, as you have ease in which you play the shots.

Cons of the Penhold Grip

Tougher to Play With

While the penhold grip is hard to master, it is even harder to generate backhand topspin on a regular basis. The quality of the strokes tends to decrease as the game goes on because you have to bend your arm in different positions to generate the backhand topspin.

How to hold a ping pong paddle - Penhold Grip

Japanese & Korean Grip

The main difference between the Japanese/Korean grip and Chinese penhold grip is that the fingers on the back of the bat are straightened rather than curled. It is useful for players who ideally play a little farther away from the table, unlike the Chinese penhold.

Pros of the Japanese & Korean Grip

Powerful Forehand

You can generate higher power thanks to the addition of straightened fingers behind the bat that help with powerful forehand shots.

Cons of the Japanese & Korean Grip

Movement Restricted

The straightened fingers restrict movement of the blade making it challenging to adjust the racket in different angles to reach the ball.

Not for Beginners

Beginners tend to find this variation very hard to master. It is complicated and requires time to get used to, before you can master it.

Reverse Penhold Backhand Grip

The last variant is the reverse penhold backhand grip. Fingers holding the racket are similar to the traditional Chinese grip and the preference is using the inverted rubber to generate efficient topspin and larger amounts of sidespin.

Pros of the Reverse Penhold Grip

Improved Backhand

This strengthens the backhand and helps in dealing with the shortcomings of the Chinese penhold grip. Short balls can be attacked with greater ease and can be used interchangeably with the Chinese penhold for greater impact.

Cons of the Reverse Penhold Grip


A lot like the shakehand grip, there is a degree of uncertainty when it comes to using the reverse penhold backhand grip. It also makes the shots played across the net line difficult to play.


What’s the difference between Penhold vs Shakehand?

The difference between penhold and shakehand grip is very straightforward. In penhold, you hold the paddle’s handle like a pen, while for shakehand, you hold it as if you are shaking the hand of a paddle.

How to hold a Ping Pong paddle if you’re left handed?

Holding a ping pong paddle for a left-hander is not much different. The only difference is in inverting the sides.

What is the Japanese Penhold Grip?

The Japanese penhold grip is the one in which the fingers are straightened and on the back of the head of the paddle.

What is the Korean Penhold Grip?

The Korean penhold grip is the same as the Japanese penhold grip and keeps your fingers are stretched and pinning the back of the paddle when playing.

Photo of author


Matt is founder of Pong Place and has been a table tennis addict from an early age. He had regular ping pong matches with his dad in their basement and learned how to counteract his defensive maneuvers over the years. Though he still plays, his main passion is educating others about the joys of ping pong, learning about new products and making the sport more accessible to people like you.