Ping pong or table tennis is a very fast game. As the tiny plastic ball is driven from one side to the other side of the table at lightning speed, a player has a fraction of a second to react and propel the ball back to his or her opponent; indeed it is an ultimate test of agility and body coordination. Playing ping pong requires excellent footwork and body positioning. But more than the stance, a player needs to have an excellent grip on the racket to attain better performance.
There are many ways to grip the ping pong racket. As each style of grip can impact the way an individual plays the game, it may well be a factor that can determine if a player has the advantage in a match and therefore predict the outcome of the game as well. The following are the different grip styles in ping pong that players, new and old, can use to increase the chances of shining in the game.
The Shakehand Grip
The shakehand grip in ping pong is a way of holding the racket in a way that is similar to shaking a person's hand. The shakehand grip is common between ping pong players coming from western countries because it approximates the kind of grip used in tennis which originated in the west.
In general, a shakehand grip gives more power in the player's strokes. It locks the racket firmly in hand and takes force from the wrists. The shakehand grip is effective for forehand and backhand maneuvers as it allows more control. The disadvantage for this type of grip, however, comes from the locked and inflexible wrists it affords, which ironically is the same source from which it takes its power. An inflexible wrist can limit a player's adjustment to the opponent's strokes.
The Penhold Grip
The penhold grip in ping pong means gripping the racket handle much like holding a pen or any other writing instrument for that matter. The penhold grip is common among ping pong players from the east, particularly Asian countries. The penhold allows a more flexible wrist and therefore great for serves and forehands. It allows the player to adjust to the opponent's tactics more freely.
There are variations in penhold grip style. While penhold is generally pertained to as the Chinese grip, it has Japanese and other minor styles. But commonly, this style makes use of the index finger and the thumb. The three remaining fingers are either curled or spread at the backside of the blade. This manner of holding the racket means players using the penhold grip can only use one side of the blade; the backside, which is where the three other fingers are hidden, is rarely used.
There are other ping pong grips available, but these are minor ones and are rarely used by players. One is the seemiller grip where the racket is held just like a shakehand grip except in the way that the thumb and the index finger are gripping the sides of the blade rather than the handle. Another type of grip is the V grip where the index and middle fingers, formed into a V, are gripping the edge of the blade that is nearest the handle.
Ping pong introduces a variety of ways to grip the racket. The important thing to remember is that the final say in finding the ultimate grip can only come from the player. As they say in ping pong, different grips for different folks.