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What Grip Should My Child Use to Play Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong?

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Photo of Shakehand Grip

Photo of Shakehand Grip

(c)2006 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Question: What Grip Should My Child Use to Play Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong?
The decision of what grip a new player should use is a very important one, especially for juniors who may be looking to play at a high level in later years. Here's my advice on what grip a child new to the sport should use.
Answer: I would recommend that most new juniors should use a shakehand grip instead of a penhold or lesser known grip (such as the Seemiller grip). If you are unsure about what grips are possible, I discuss the different ping-pong grips and their advantages and disadvantages here.

I recommend the shakehand grip for new juniors for several reasons, including the following:

  • The shakehand grip is dominant at higher level play, so at present it appears to be the best grip to use to reach the higher levels.
  • The shakehand grip is more popular in most western countries, which means that it will be easier to obtain good coaching for your child, since most western coaches will have more experience coaching the shakehand grip.
  • The shakehand grip puts less emphasis on footwork to cover the court, since both the forehand and backhand can be used to make strong attacking strokes. This means the need for very fast footwork and high levels of fitness is not as high for the shakehand grip.
  • For most western juniors, the shakehand grip is a fairly natural way to grip the racket, and should feel comfortable. The penhold and Seemiller variations are generally less natural grips, and can feel awkward for non-Asian juniors.

This is not to say that the other grips are not to be considered at all when a junior first begins playing. The penhold and rpb grips are still forces to be reckoned with on the world stage. But the traditional penhold grips require high levels of mobility and fitness, while the rpb grip is still relatively new and most juniors will find it difficult to find a coach who has experience coaching this style of play.

So unless your child decides that one of the other grips is what he has his heart set on using, I would recommend that most juniors should begin their table tennis careers with a shakehand grip.

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