How to Hold a Ping Pong Paddle – Shakehand & Penhold grip

The way you hold your ping pong paddle is one of the most crucial elements in determining your playing style and technique. Most of the players use a shakehand grip because of its high efficiency and versatility for all types of players, either a beginner or professional. But there is a good amount of professional players who use penhold grip. Holding a ping pong paddle properly can sky-rocket your game and has a great impact on speed and spin of your paddle. So, stay with us to learn the proper way to hold a ping pong paddle and start winning.

Backhand and Forehand Ping Pong Grips and Strokes:

Before getting into further details about the type of playing style and preferred grip, one must know which type of strokes they are good with, either forehand or backhand strokes. Which strokes are their strength and weakness, depending upon their major strokes, they should decide about the type of ping pong  grip which is most suitable for them.

So, here we will first learn about forehand and backhand strokes, their impact on your game and then decide which playing style, either shakehand or penhold is most suitable for you.

How to hold a ping pong paddlehow to hold a ping pong paddle








Forehand Stroke:

In a forehand stroke, one hits the ball from the most comfortable and easily accessible angle of their hand. The angle and the position in a forehand stroke differs from player to player and is determined according to their comfort level. In order to play this stroke, first adjust your body in your most comfortable position and stand in a position with your ping pong paddle in the natural side of your hand and place your feet at an angle wider than your shoulders.

For maximum power output and a powerful shot, adjust the position of your foot opposite to your natural hand’s position, behind the other foot. Tilt your body towards the table and bend your knees according to your comfort level. Now you are all set to play a shot, so as the ball approaches you, rotate your body towards the right side and come in a defensive position accumulating all the power in your respective hand.

Make sure that you transfer the weight from your right to left foot as the ball approaches so that it gets more power to your shot and keep the angle at a 45 degree angle. Keep moving your body backward and forward with each shot. After each shot, come back to your comfort position.

In order to win this game, you have to be super quick and active. The positioning requires quick actions for which you must be physically active. So we would advise you to do some exercises and join a gym in order to become a pro in this game.

Backhand Stroke:

In order to play this stroke, you have to adjust the angle of your handle during the play. The position of arms remains the same in a backhand spin but the position of legs changes, you have to adjust your legs in a position so that the feet are facing towards the opponent. As the ball approaches, move your ping pong paddle towards your body and then hit the ball with a stroke. You can adjust the power and spin in your ball with the position and power of your hand. Immediately adjust the position of your body back to normal and get ready for another shot.

Shakehand Grip:

This is the most widely used ping pong grips by players all around the globe and is more popular among Western players. Explanation of the following ping pong paddle grip is for right-handed play, so left-handed players should invert the ping pong grip accordingly.

Shakehand Grip

First of all, hold the racket loosely between your thumb and your index finger and touch the curve of the blade. While doing so, make sure your index finger should rest along the edge of the back and your thumb is placed against the lower edge of the forehand side. Hold the handle of the ping pong paddle with your wrist straight with your forearms.

At the surface level, the shakehand grip is an excellent ‘all-rounder’ method and considered a relatively simple method for beginners and intermediate players.

  • Strength is evenly distributed across forehand and backhand strokes which disables the need to change grip during game
  • The easiest way to learn and practice
  • Most coaches and professional players support this method
  • Predictability of the direction of ball
  • When facing a tough opponent, one needs more time to decide whether to play a forehand or backhand shot

Also check: 14 Best Ping Pong Paddles 2020 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

The above guide was for beginner level players who are still in a learning phase to get a grip of the method. Here is the detailed method and different techniques to use this grip in an International tournament and defeat your opponent. There are mainly two methods to hold a ping pong paddle using  i.e. deep shakehand grip and shallow shakehand grip.

Deep Shakehand Grip:

Deep shakehand grip gives more spins and power to your shots. To exercise this technique what you have to do is, hold your ping pong paddle with your thumb in a relaxed position and grip the handle between your thumb and index finger in a way that your thumb and index finger are at a 70 degree angle. This method will give you powerful but less precise shots.

Shallow Shakehand Grip:

This technique provides you more firm grip over your ping pong paddle. Professional players like Zedong and Ma Long used this technique. In this technique, you hold the handle between your index finger and thumb in a way that your thumb is firmly placed on the handle with your index finger over the rubber part of the paddle at an almost 70 degree angle

This type of technique provides a good grip and powerful backhand and forehand shots.

Penhold Grip:

This ping pong paddle grip is called penhold because when you hold the ping pong paddle using this technique, it looks just as if you are holding a pen. This technique is mostly used by Asian players. The advantage that this technique has over shakehand grip is that it provides more firm grip, hence giving more powerful forehand shots.

ping pong penhold grip

So, what you have to do is, make a C-shape with your thumb and index finger and hold the handle between your index finger and thumb at the end of the rubber in a way that your index finger and thumb meet each other at a point. The position of the index finger and thumb over the paddle may vary according to the preference and comfort of the player.

This is a very unique characteristic of this style that it provides so many possibilities for the players to hold the paddle and adjust according to their playing style.

This technique provides powerful shots with great speed and high spin but requires lots of footwork and arm and hand movements.

  • Great control
  • Provides a firm grip over the paddle
  • Unpredictable shots
  • Good spin
  • Not so comfortable for playing long matches
  • Required footwork might be hard for beginner level players and tiring for professionals

Also check: Top 7 Best Ping Pong Paddles For Spin – Premium reviews

Chinese Penhold Grip:

Chinese penhold grip is the most popular technique among penhold grips and named so because in this technique, you hold your ping pong paddle just like you hold a pen. To practice this technique, you hold the handle of the ping pong paddle between your index finger and thumb at a point just where the rubber ends in a way that these two fingers meet and the other three fingers spreaded on the rubber to provide enough support for powerful shots. There can be some variations in this style, such as:

chinese penhold style

  • The index finger close to the rubber and the thumb on the edge of the rubber
  • Have noticeable gap between index finger and thumb

For more comfortable feeling, you can let the other three fingers touch the blade,

positioning the rest of these fingers on the back of the blade, placing them at the middle or the base, according to your comfort level.


  • Great speed and strong forehand strokes
  • Availability of great many choices for adjustment according to your style and comfort
  • Easy blocking shots
  • Powerful shots
  • Difficulty of quick variation between forehand and backhand shots
  • The amount of hand and foot work required for this type of technique might be really exhausting for some players
  • Not an efficient option for physically weak players
  • Not a good option for long matches (especially for physically weak players who easily get exhausted)

Japanese Penhold:

This style is practiced in many Asian countries but originally belongs to Japan. The main difference in the Chinese style and the Japanese style is the position of the fingers behind the paddle.

Japanese Penhold gripThe thumb and index meet directly, but mostly, the three fingers on the back side are stacked against each other straight on the rubber to provide extra strength to the ball.

This provides a benefit to the force as those fingers are behind the contact surface of the paddle and add to the power of the stroke.



  • Powerful shots
  • Great attacking shots
  • A challenging choice for beginner level players
  • Difficult to play backhand and forehand shots simultaneously

Related Article: Top 13 Best Ping Pong Paddle Blades – 2020 Ultimate buying Guide


In conclusion, there is a great variety of playing styles available, but we would suggest you choose the playing style which works best for you. There are so many different ways to hold a ping pong paddle, but you should always choose the one you feel most comfortable playing with because that is the only thing that will help you play in the long run.

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