Which Grip is better - Your Opinion

Table Tennis Strokes and Technique

Last updated 5 years ago

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Asked 9 years ago

Hi PingSkills and everyone,

I just want to ask which grip is better and give me your reason with your own opinion. I'm a shakehand player but after thinking a lot about the grip between shakehand and penhold (i just like both of these grips) i think that penhold grip is better.

First, as many people know about it, the wrist i can use my wrist more and this's very useful especially for the pendulum serve and topspin flick.

Second, many people know this too, the crossover point as a shakehand player will have suck problem on this and with penhold, you'll never have this problem.

Third, the reverse backhand maybe people think penhold is not a good grip because of the backhand and i agree with it too but have you ever think about using the reverse backhand? I ever try this and it works well especially for the backhand topspin as in match you will use topspin more than counterhit and also you can usse the the reverse backhand for the counterhit.

Fourth, easy to hit the low ball because penhold is to hold the bat like holding pen and the bat facing down so that i can hit the ball that is low even smash it rather with shakehand that's the bat facing up so it's hard to attack the low ball.

Fifth, put sidespin on every strokes maybe many people will know this a lot as penhold can move the wrist very easy so it make you can put sidespin on every strokes just like block, lob, drop shot, flick, topspin, smash, etc.

Sixth, three fingers hold the back of the bat i think this three fingers give a lot of effect on the strokes as well just like if i circle the fingers it'll make the wrist can move easily and if i put it flat i'll have more control and also more power that's usefull for smashing that you can change the fingers position easily rather changing the shakehand grip to the modified one that's only can be use for the forehand last, feel free ! What i mean is i think with this grip i can make every strokes easily rather than the shakehand just like to use the forehand sidespin flick, using wrist, reverse backhand (that's also can be use for the forehand topspin) and it just like using the shakehand grip the really disadvantage for this grip is to serve with the reverse backhand and chop with the reverse backhand or anything that put backspin with the reverse backhand and i think this might rarely happen or never as you can use the forehand to chop the backhand side so the backhand is not the problem at all!

So what do you all think about it? Is it good for me to change back to the penhold grip ? (I ever be a penhold player when first time playing but change to shakehand and now think to change back) or just to keep my shakehand grip i really get confused as if i change to penhold, it means that i need to learn more as what i mastered is only the forehand counterhit but if i mastered all of the strokes, i'll feel free and if i keep with my shakehand, i can keep going to learn more strokes as i have mastered a lot with this grip but i will feel not free especially for the wrist and crossover point please for the advice everyone thank you very much :D

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Frendy,

I will hand this over to see others opinions.

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Thoughts on this question

Ji-Soo Woo

Ji-Soo Woo Posted 9 years ago

Speaking at the club level, penholders do seem to have more spinny serves so I do agree it seems to be an advantage in that area (though it seems to be primarily top/sidespin, so maybe it is easier to serve topspin as a penholder).  The grip doesn't mean, however, that you have no issues with the corssover point.  If you use RPB, you have exactly the same problem as a shakehander.  Even if you don't, you still have to decide whether to hit a FH loop or a BH block.

louie toledo

louie toledo Posted 9 years ago

Back to penhold grip is good choice as long as you really want it. And don't think the hassles on both grip. If your decision is final  don't change again to other grip and improve your skills.

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

IF the reverse backhand can be just the shakehand that's have the crossover point, i think it's better as i can move my wrist easily and also with the reverse backhand doesn't mean i will have the crossover problem as it doesn't mean i'll use the reverse backhand all the time if i change back to the penhold, then i'll start to the begining and can't enter any competition and i afraid i'll need a long time to be mastered again please the some advice especially from the coach thank you very much

Nathan S

Nathan S Posted 9 years ago

Grip doesn't really matter, the player's skill matters more, whatever grip you use will not matter as long as you don't switch a lot, keep training with your grip now.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Great advice Nathan!

Eric Amstislavskiy

Eric Amstislavskiy Posted 9 years ago

i play penhold now, and people do have trouble with my serves.  however, they always hit to my bh and i have trouble against really good players.  i think that if mastered, penhold is a more effective grip.


Oliver Posted 9 years ago

That is a good list, but I will give my reasons as to why I believe shakehand is better. Anyone, feel free to correct me if you disagree.
1. Wrist does not actually matter too much during the game, only during serving. This can be easily altered by changing the grip
2&3. If you are to use the RPB, the crossover point will always be a problem.
4. Shakehand is easier for hitting high balls, and even if you are to hit a low ball, shakehand grip is just as good because both grips can touch the floor and therefore no grip is disadvantaged.  However, the shakehand grip has a bigger range in terms of height and so is better.
5. You can just as easily add sidespin by dropping your wrist with shakehand. And plus the wrist freedom of penhold is side-to-side, not up and down and therefore you can argue that shakehand is better at sidespin.
6. Three fingers hold the back, but only two hold the bat. This means that you potentially have a higher risk of dropping your bat and also the pressure on your hand is also greater. 
7. (my own reasons) You don't need as much effort to close the bat angle. Also, it is almost like a badminton grip or tennis grip so tennis and badminton players will often find the shakehand grip easier.

So there you go. Feel free to counterstate anything.

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

oh ok then... thank you very much for all of the advice :D

mat huang

mat huang Posted 9 years ago

I am a shakehander.

Advantages of shakehand is the Backhand where it is more versatile even compared to RPB.

Disadvantage is that it has a crossover point in which you could overcome come in a bit of training

Advantage for penhold is the wrist. Even with serving grip some angles eg side top pendulum for shakehand is a BIT harder to achieve a lot of topspin because it is hard get. No cross over for conventional Backhand

Disadvantage is the backhand where u cant exert much power. As oliver said, if RPB is in use there will be a crossover point.

I chose shakehand mainly because I have slow footwork. Personally I think they are equally as good but the reason why there a few and fewer penholders is because we're getting lazy and taking the "easier" grip.

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

if i use the RPB, it doesn't mean i'll have the cross over right ? as i still can use the forehand on my bachhand side

the second reason why i think to use penhold is because i'm a chinese even not from china and in my country penhold is rare even from a chinese too and the only one that use the penhold here is just the chinese veteran and i think it's better to develop this grip as a chinese people so that this grip will not disappear in table tennis

mat huang

mat huang Posted 9 years ago

You're right Frendy. It is rare in table tennis nowadays. But I think the chinese are always choose one of the exceptional youngsters to play as penhold so the grip doesn't disappear.


If you have been using shakehand for a long time, you shouldn't change as it will be pretty hard. If you have only played 1 year or so and if you LOVE that grip you might want to change.

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

hhmm.. ok then

it seems like i must not change this grip until i mastered this grip as there's no coach that use and can teach the penhold grip here

after i mastered the shakehand for a long time i'll find a penhold coach to teach me

ok then, thank you very much everyone ^^

nate s

nate s Posted 9 years ago

I play cpen and shake hand and for beginners I would say to start with shake-hand but I prefer cpen.

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

May i know what is the reason why you choose cpen ?

nate s

nate s Posted 9 years ago

Penhold: Pro:

I feel it's better suited for my type of play. I don't chop much (in matches) and i feel it helps me get more sidespin (I use a lot)I don't block much (using mainly topspin flicks) and i feel i have more power in my backhand. 

Try both and learn both is what I would do if I was you. Not only can you figure out which one is meant for you, you start to understand how both penhold players and shakehand player play.

Wrist..Wrist is very important is penhold. 

I also use reverse backhand, I don't think back hand is a problem at all. If you think backhand is less powerful on penhold than shakehand just watch Xu Xin.

Cons: Chopping I think is harder on the penhold. Another think that is hard is a really far lob with backhand. (I don't have many cons)

Conclusion : I personally think penhold is better and i hope this helped you Frendy


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

Oh i see... Ok then, thank you for your advice :D

Table TennisGuy

Table TennisGuy Posted 7 years ago

I started with the shakehand grip then switched to penhold(my variation) for about 2 weeks.

Pros of the Penhold:
Grip with the strongest forehand
Greater wrist flexibility
Grip is slowly getting extinct, so opponents might not know how to play with one
Backhand problem fixed with reverse penhold
Serves with more spin without the need to alter your grip
Three fingers on the back can be changed for either more wrist control or more bat control
No crossover point
The reverse penhold can be used as a surprise for players who think that forehand is the only weapon

Cons of the Penhold:
If you use the reverse penhold you would have two crossover points, if that makes sense
Weaker backhand if you don't
Fewer coaches to learn from

In my opinion, the penhold grip may give you a hard time. But with enough practice and footwork drills, it can be a killer!
Examples: Xu Xin, Ma Lin, Wang Hao

Pros of the Shakehand:
Equal power distribution from both sides
A variation of this grip has the strongest backhand
More coaches to learn from
The more "natural" grip
Easier to twiddle with

Cons of the Shakehand:
Has a crossover point
Players know what to expect

The Shakehand is more of the "well-rounded" grip. With enough training though, it might equal the penhold in terms of forehand.
Examples: Timo Boll, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Jan-Ove Waldner

Kaustubh Kulkarni

Kaustubh Kulkarni Posted 7 years ago

I use shakehand grip 'coz I feel more comfortable with it.

Marius Darian

Marius Darian Posted 5 years ago

I'm a shakehander.

In my opinion, the shakehand grip and the penhold grip are at a similar level.

The traditional penhold grip allows you to use your wrist a lot more, which helps when serving and looping close to the table. They don't have a crossover point, and typically have a good TPB block and great footwork.

BUT, penholders are at a disadvantage when counterlooping (try closing your bat angle with the penhold grip- you will have to raise your elbow, which makes it difficult). Also, they are at a disadvantage with the backhand attacking and a lack of reach on the backhand side.

Using the modern RPB penholders can attack with the backhand, however (except for Wang Hao, who was basically a shakehander playing with the penhold grip) it is still weaker than a shakehander's backhand. Also, now you kind of have a crossover point.

I think that the small number of penholders in the Men Top 100 tells us that the shakehand grip is superior.

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