I’d like to talk about the difference between the Penhold grip and the Shakehand grip. The word “grip” refers to how you hold your paddle: either with a penhold grip (that’s one where you wrap your fingers around the entire back, with all four fingers touching the same side of the paddle), or a shakehand grip (where you place your index finger above your thumb on one side, and your other three fingers on the other).
Types Of Paddles
First, let’s talk real quick about paddles. There are two types:
- Sponge Paddle
- Anti-Sponge Paddle
A “sponge” paddle has rubber that is made out of some sort of spongy material; they generally cost more, but they allow you to put more spin on the ball.
An “anti-sponge” paddle is cheaper, and not as good (or isn’t as good as) a sponge one, but it still has those tiny holes in the rubber that make it feel like it’s got some grip on the ball.
Shakehand players can also hit very hard if they want to, but because of the grip shape their acceleration is not as great and it takes longer for them to get the racket head around – this makes it easier for penholders to use shots like pushes and short blocks (where you don’t have to move backwards much) against shakehand players who try to attack with power. However, these same types of shots are pretty easy for a good shakehander player to just counterpunch harder than his opponent or lunge into the ball with heavy loops. It’s probably best said that individual styles determine whether penhold or shakehand is more effective against each other in any given match-up, so we’ll move on to another factor.
Penhold gives a player the ability to develop a very strong blocking game because of its inverted surface which can produce a “tacky” backspin ball that is difficult for shakehanders to counterpunch effectively with the reverse side of their rackets, but it can be awkward at times when your opponent loops into your backspin and you have to attack from deep in your court by coming around the side with many power loops! If you’re not paying attention, these types of shots can land you way out deep in your opponent’s court or off the end altogether. In addition, penholder wants [to develop a more offensive style], they must learn how to use their forehand to attack (and be able to reach the ball with the back of their racket) because they do not have an inverted surface on that side.
Well, they’re different grips. A penhold grip (used by players like Zhang Yining and Wang Hao) is one where you place all four fingers on ONE side of the paddle; your thumb will be touching that same side of the blade. Joo Sae Hyuk uses a shakehand grip, which is when you use your finger AND your thumb – two fingers and two thumbs – on both sides of the blade. The way you hold your paddle is something that usually gets decided by age seven, so if you’ve been playing for a while, chances are pretty good that you already know what you use.
It’s worth noting at this point that the penhold grip is very popular in Asia (because of Zhang Yining and Wang Hao and other Asian players), and according to some people “European player WANT shakehand grip but forced to play with Penhold because no one wants to play against them.” I don’t really think there’s much evidence for this; it seems like more pundits like to say it than actual players. There was one guy (I can’t remember his name) who said he played with penhold because it was easier, but even that’s not really true since the two strokes are completely different.
As for me, I started out playing with shakehand grip, but switched to penhold when I was about eight years old. Ever since then, I’ve been using penhold grip at least 90% of the time, and definitely prefer it over shakehand. For analysis purposes however, I’ll be writing analysis assuming both players are using shakehand grip unless otherwise specified.
Advantages And Disadvantages of Grips
There are advantages and disadvantages of each kind of grip. The biggest difference between penhold grip and shakehand is that penhold requires playing more or less on top of the table whereas shakehand can use a much larger variety of strokes. Because the blade is much closer to the player during penhold play, about 2-4 inches closer than shakehand (because you need to use a shorter backswing), it’s much easier to hit very hard shots with penhold because you don’t have as much time between making contact with the ball and the racket head reaching your hand – this is why Chinese penholders are so dominant in international competition.
However, great penholders who aren’t necessarily fast or especially strong can also do well against these types by using more subtle techniques such as spin variation and placement to compensate for their lack of speed and power. Penhold gives players better control over positioning than shakehand does due to its larger range of possible grips and strokes.
Differences Between Penhold And Shakehand
However, shakehanders can create strong topspin balls by turning over the face of their racket which will bounce high and still tacky, allowing them to effectively counterattack many penholders’ power looping game. Also, there are more backhands in the game of ping pong because it is harder for shakehand players to cover all angles with one side of their body; this makes it easier to play against someone who uses only one-side than against a penholder player who does so as well! Shakehand also has an easier time returning serves than does penhold. I am not sure why but I think it is because shakehand players are more used to having the head of their racket face up, so they can quickly turn it over when returning serves.
The most significant difference between penhold and shakehands is that, unlike in penhold, all of the basic shots (topspin shot, backspin shot, lob shot) are hit with one side only. This means that both sides of the racket are interchangeable for basic shots; however, this also means that shakehanders cannot play angles as well since they must use one side or another (usually forehand). Shakehanders may compensate for this by hitting smashes high to make them harder to return (smashing is best done with backhand), or by hitting drops (with backhand) when they anticipate a lob so that the racket is already in position to hit the drop.
Another difference between penhold and shakehand is where players hit on the racket. In penhold, spins are generated with sidespin generated from the edge of the blade nearest to one’s hand while speed is generated off of sidespin generated from the part of the blade closest to one’s wrist. In addition, instead of hitting towards one side on both forehand and backhand, there is an element of hitting more forward on each shot which causes a shallower trajectory for shots with less power, but also causes shots with great power to have a higher arc. This makes serves different for penhold players as players typically use a mix of top-spin and sidespin for serves. In shakehand, spin is generated off of the part nearest to one’s wrist while speed is generated from the edge near one’s hand. In addition, on both forefinger and backhand loops, power is typically generated from the waist down to the floor instead of using shoulder rotation as in penhold players. This results in a lower trajectory with more speed which makes it harder for opponents to return shots.