Shakehand Vs Penhold Grip (Full Table Tennis Grip Guide)
When it comes to table tennis rackets, there are many different ones designed for different playstyles, many brands, features, and appearances. However, there are different ways to hold the racket too.
The two most used grip types are the shakehand and penhold grip, and in this article, I will teach you the difference between them, the benefits and downsides, and how to hold the racket in both ways. But first, what’s the difference between shakehand and penhold grip?
A shakehand is more common than a penhold grip because it is easier to learn. You can generate more power with a shakehand, whereas a penhold grip has more wrist freedom, making it easier to play closer to the table and generate spin. It’s easier to change from penhold to shakehand than vice versa.
That being said, both grips certainly have their pros and cons. Personally, I use a shakehand grip because that’s how I learned to play ping pong, so I don’t need any reason to change that.
Check out the Stiga Performance shakehand racket and the Butterfly Nakama P7 penhold racket to see examples of both. Just by looking at them, you can see the difference!
Anyways, let’s dive deeper into the differences between shakehand and penhold grip!
Difference Between Shakehand and Penhold Grip
From the picture above, you can see how both grips are held. A shakehand grip looks like I’m about to shake hands with someone, and a penhold grip looks like I’m holding a pen. This is where their names come from.
Below you can see a table where you can compare both shakehand and penhold grip and their features to see the differences when playing table tennis.
In case you don’t know, here is the greatness list of each word shown below:
- Poor (6)
- Fair (7)
- Good (8)
- Great (9)
- Excellent (10)
|Feature||Shakehand Grip||Penhold Grip|
|Forehand power||Great (9)||Good (9)|
|Backhand power||Good (8)||Poor (6)|
|Forehand flexibility||Good (8)||Excellent (10)|
|Backhand flexibility||Great (9)||Poor (6)|
|Serve efficiency||Good (8)||Excellent (10)|
|Spin generation||Good (8)||Great (9)|
As you can see, shakehand is much more balanced and good in all things, whereas penhold is excellent in many but equally poor in others, making it riskier if a shakehand player can exploit the weaknesses. However, if a penhold player is skilled and can use its advantages, it can be really powerful.
For you to get the best understanding of each grip, let’s look at both of them individually and go over their pros and cons.
Shakehand grip is easier to learn and teach, so it is more popular globally, especially in the United States and Europe. In this holding style, the racket faces up, and it looks like you are about to shake hands when you hold the handle.
The benefit of a shakehand grip is that it is more versatile in all things, from flexibility to strokes. While holding the racket with a shakehand grip, you can generate a good amount of power from both forehand and backhand sides, whereas the penhold grip lacks the power and all maneuverability from the backhand.
I didn’t have a penhold racket to demonstrate, but they have shorter handles than the classic shakehand racket, which surprises beginners. This is simply because their hold, grip, and wrist movements are better with a shorter handle.
Penhold grip is harder to learn because the learning curve is steeper, and it requires more practice to become good at it. Also, the disadvantages of it can seem really hard at first. Overall, penhold grips are less popular globally, but when Asia is compared to other continents, it is considerably more popular there. Penhold grip gets its name from what it looks to hold it, and it resembles holding a pen.
Wrist movement, spin, and forehand power are great benefits of a penhold grip. Also, serving is far better because it is more unpredictable where one with a penhold grip will strike, whereas it is far easier to do so with a shakehand player. On the conside, penhold grip is weak from the backhand side, and if you want to become great at it, it requires much more time and effort to master than a shakehand grip.
When it comes to penhold rackets, they have shorter handles and often longer blades to really comply with the technique. It came as a surprise that there are rackets that look like that when I was a beginner and saw it for the first time.
Overall, I prefer the shakehand grip because it is more versatile and doesn’t lack behind in important things; even though they don’t have anything super beneficial, the overall playability is better, in my opinion. If you prefer a penhold grip, be sure to play with it because if something.
How Do You Shakehand Grip?
The best way to do a shakehand grip is to take hold of your racket’s handle as you were to shake hands. Do this by placing the thumb on the rubber before the handle, the index finger on the other side of the racket, and the rest three fingers firmly on the handle.
That being said, there are two ways to do a shakehand grip: shallow shakehand and deep shakehand.
In short, while taking a deep shakehand grip, your thumb will relax more on the rubber, whereas, in a shallow shakehand grip, your thumb will relax more on the handle. The depth of your shakehand grip will determine how accurate and fast you can return the ball, which is different for everyone.
How Do You Penhold Grip?
The best way to do a penhold grip is to turn your racket so that the handle is pointing up and holding it like a pen. Do this by taking your thumb and index finger on the forehand side and the rest three fingers on the backhand, and hold the handle like you would hold a pen.
There are two kinds of penhold rackets you can use: Chinese penhold and Japanese penhold.
Chinese penhold rackets are more common than Japanese penhold rackets; they are often heavier and have rubbers on both sides of the racket, unlike Japanese penhold rackets. Naturally, this makes Japanese penhold rackets highly focused on the forehand, which them superior to Chinese penhold rackets when considering the forehand.
Shakehand Vs Penhold Paddles
There are considerable differences between a shakehand and a penhold racket as well.
Shakehand rackets have a longer handle and a shorter blade because the way it is held requires a longer grip and a circular blade. The penhold racket has a shorter handle and a longer blade because it allows the wrist to move freely, and the egg-like shape makes it better for penhold players.
See examples of both rackets here:
- Shakehand racket: Killerspin Jet800
- Penhold racket: Butterfly Nakama P-3
Should You Use a Shakehand or Penhold Grip?
What about if you are just starting? It can be overwhelming to choose from the two grips if you haven’t ever played table tennis. Should you use a shakehand or a penhold grip?
In short, you should try both grips and determine which one feels more comfortable and choose that. However, most people play with a shakehand grip because it is easier to learn and teach. Also, nearly all professional players use the shakehand grip, which is an indicator that it fares better.
But ultimately, if you feel more comfortable with a penhold grip and can play better with it. Then absolutely, choose that one!
What grip does Ma Long use?
Ma Long is a right-handed shakehand grip player and is the greatest table tennis player of all time. Ma Long is known to favour the DHS Hurricane 3 National rubber and a wrist-oriented serving technique that both improve the play that carried him all way to the title of the greatest table tennis player.
My Favorite Table Tennis Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here you can find my preferred table tennis equipment that I believe you could benefit too!
- Racket: My favorite racket choice is the beautiful Killerspin Jet800 because it fits my offensive and speed-focused playstyle. The two carbon layers, 2.1mm sponge, and 190g weight makes this racket powerful.
- Ping Pong Balls: New technology and design have made the JOOLA Flash Seamless 3-Star Balls stand out from the other balls. These balls are seamless, meaning they are more durable than any ball with a seam! Even when these balls come at a higher price, they will pay themselves quickly. As a bonus, the design makes me excited!
- Table Tennis shoes: The famous Butterfly Lezoline Rifones is my choice as it is for many others because they are designed specifically for table tennis standards. I like the excellent support, comfortable cushioning, and lightweight sole with great traction, which gets you exploding fast to whatever direction you need to.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.