How to Hold a Ping Pong Paddle

For many beginners, holding a ping pong paddle isn’t a big deal. You’re probably more concerned about just hitting the ball or creating a good volley of hits. But, as your game improves, you’ll probably want to consider the grip on your paddle. Properly holding your ping pong paddle can make a huge difference in your game.

Close up of senior man serving while playing table tennis with friends in a health club.

There are two grips that most people use for holding their ping pong paddle: the shakehand grip and the penhold grip. For most beginners the shakehand grip is the preferred grip, while more advanced players or competitive ping pong players often choose the penhold grip. 

The Shakehand Grip

Table tennis Shakehand Grip

As we stated above, the shakehand grip is the best grip for beginners. However, variations of the shakehand grip are used by many professional ping pong players; particularly ping pong players from western countries. This grip is named as such because the hand position on the paddle mimics how you would shake hands with someone. 

To properly hold your ping pong paddle with the shakehand grip:

The Penhold Grip

Table tennis Penhold Grip

This grip is most often used by professional ping pong players in Asia, specifically China and Japan. However it has become more popular with western ping pong players over the last few years. This grip is so named because the way you hold the paddle is very similar to how you would hold a pen for writing.

To properly hold your ping pong paddle with the penhold grip:

There are other grips that are used by professional ping pong players, such as the V-grip and the Seemiller grip. These two types of grips are not commonly used, and are not great for beginners or people who play for fun.

If you are new to playing ping pong, holding your paddle properly is likely the last thing on your mind. However, when you finally get comfortable with your play, you may want to improve by adjusting how you hold your paddle. Utilizing the shakehand grip or the penhold grip  will allow you to add spin, drop, and curve to the ball, taking your game to the next level.

Tom Erickson