The Grip Used In Table Tennis Explained

By: Jimmy Cox

The grip is an all-important fundamental in every racket game. In table tennis it has provoked much controversy, and many grips have been advocated in the past: the "shovel" grip, the "penholder" grip, the "palm" grip. We recommend the tennis grip because that is the one used by all ranking table-tennis players.

THE TENNIS GRIP

To form the tennis grip, take up your racket and grasp it as though you were shaking hands with a friend. Now slip your hand up the handle until it fits snugly, and place your index finger on the rubber surface of one side and your thumb on the other. Curl your remaining fingers around the handle of the racket.

The side of the racket where your thumb rests is the forehand side; and the other side, where your index finger rests, is the backhand side. This is the only orthodox grip. However, forefinger and thumb may be shifted slightly to the position which feels most comfortable to you.

In lawn tennis, particularly among women players, it is often advantageous to shift the thumb up the handle of the racket for support. In table tennis too, you may find it desirable to place your thumb farther behind the racket to provide more force for your shots. We do not recommend excessive shifting of grip from forehand to backhand because the player may lose control of his racket during a fast point.

The fact that thumb and forefinger are actually on the playing surface of the racket enables you, with practice, to feel the speed of the shot - both the one you are receiving and the counter shot you are returning. If you hold the racket firmly, but not tightly, the impact of a hard shot will register through your fingers and will thus permit control and precision in your return. Do not grip the racket too tightly, as this may cause numbness which will hamper your shot perception and touch.

Check the position of your wrist frequently to make sure you retain a natural, strong position, and avoid cramped, awkward shots. By a "natural" position is meant a position of the wrist which naturally arises when you shake hands with the racket, a position in which the wrist is not bent or cramped in any way. Do not extend your thumb too far in back of the racket, thus forcing the face to be turned too far forward or back. This grip variation might help your block game, but it will hamper free stroke-production when you begin driving and chopping.

THE PENHOLDER GRIP

The so-called "penholder" grip, in which the racket is held as if it were a pen, is the most popular of the "non-orthodox" grips. Although it is widely used, it has many disadvantages. The user is required to hit both backhand and forehand shots with the same side of the racket, and can develop at best only an awkward chop stroke. His reach is shortened by three or four inches due to this grip, and he cannot smash a high-bouncing shot well because he cannot get over the top of the ball properly.

A thorough knowledge of the correct grip for table tennis will no doubt enhance your game of table tennis. Enjoy this wonderful game!

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