How to Hold a Table Tennis Paddle Properly (3 Common Ways)

How to Hold a Table Tennis Paddle Properly (3 Common Ways)

7 minutes read
Sep 19th, 2023
Edited by:  Kim

Finding how to hold a table tennis paddle properly is a challenge for beginners. It certainly takes time until you find the most efficient way. In this blog, we will guide you on the three most common ways to hold a ping pong paddle, explain their pros and cons, and give you advice on which one you should go for. Let’s go!



  • How to Hold a Table Tennis Paddle
  • How to Choose the Way You Hold a Paddle
  • Conclusion

How to Hold a Table Tennis Paddle

The three most common ways to hold a paddle/racket/bat in table tennis are the shakehand grip, the Chinese pen hold grip, and the Japanese pen hold grip. Each type offers unique benefits and has its own drawbacks.

1. Shakehand Grip

Shakehand Grip – Image Source from Wikipedia

This is the most common way of holding a paddle. The majority of players prefer it because it’s the easiest and most balanced grip to hold and play with.

For the shakehand grip, just imagine you are doing a handshake with the paddle. Your index finger will be on one side across the bottom of the paddle. Meanwhile, your thumb will be on the other side of the paddle with three other fingers on the handle.

The position of the index finger, which is up and across the paddle, gives you better control of the paddle. It shows you what angle your paddle is, giving you the information to adjust if needed. If you hold your paddle with all fingers placed on the handle, it would be harder for you to tell what angle it is.

Pro tip: Avoid holding your paddle too tight. You would likely lose the feeling in your wrist. It would also be much harder for you to generate spins and execute different techniques in table tennis. Hold your paddle with enough force. As a test, you should be able to pull it from your hand very easily.


  • Easy to hold properly
  • Easy to cover the far distance on both of your right and left sides
  • Easy to hit with different angles, forehand and backhand


  • There’s a transition point in the middle from forehand to backhand and vice versa

2. Japanese Pen Hold Grip


Japanese pen hold is not as popular but it still offers great efficiency for those who master it. You will hold the paddle upside down with your thumb and index fingers encircling the handle (just like the way you hold a pen). The three other fingers will place on the other side of the paddle, kind of tuck up a bit and stack on each other.


  • Allows no transition point in the middle when you hit from right to left and vice versa
  • Allows you to use and leverage more of your wrist
  • More forehand dominant


  • Harder to reach and react to the far distances on both of your left and right sides
  • Can feel rather awkward with backhand drives

3. Chinese Pen Hold Grip


Compared to the Japanese pen hold, the Chinese style is more popular. The way you place your index finger and thumb is similar. The difference is the other three backing fingers. For the Chinese pen hold, these fingers are more straight out and spread even on the back of the paddle.

So, what are the differences between the Japanese and Chinese styles? Well, the Japanese style is more forehand dominant. Players usually try to hit as many shots with the same paddle side and leverage their footwork more. For the Chinese style, it allows players to hit the backhand better with what is called the Reverse penhold backhand.


  • Allows you to use and leverage more of your wrist
  • Allows better backhand drives and unpredictable strokes


  • Harder to reach and react to the far distances on both of your left and right sides
  • Harder to practice for beginners to do the Reverse penhold backhand

How to Choose the Way You Hold a Paddle

If you are a beginner in table tennis or ping pong, you should prioritize the handshake grip to start with. Most players and coaches recommend this for beginners since it’s easier to hold and has a good balance for both forehand and backhand. Nearly everyone can hold it properly.

You are also welcome to try the pen hold grip. Try different ways to place your thumb and index fingers around the handle as well as the three backing fingers on the other side. Try and change the positions of your fingers until you find the sweet spot for comfort and efficiency.

It certainly takes time to find the right way to hold a paddle in table tennis. It’s the phase that every player has to go through. Keep practicing and don’t give up. You will find your most efficient grip eventually.


The shakehand grip is the easiest and most efficient way to hold a paddle according to the majority of players. You should prioritize trying this first. Pen hold grip, on the other hand, is harder to practice and master but gives you more power from the wrist and that ability to hit more unpredictable strokes. Don’t be afraid to experiment yourself with different ways until you find the right one.

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