Guide to the Shakehand Grip

Table Tennis Techniques – Shakehand Grip Guide

One of the most important things for every beginner to get right in table tennis is the grip.

If you hold your racket the wrong way, everything else collapses. You will not be able to learn the correct technique and there are going to be tactics that you will not be able to execute.

If you have never thought about your grip or corrected it with a coach, chances are that you can improve it in some way.

Have you ever wondered if you’re putting your fingers in the right places? Have you thought about how hard you hold the racket? With which fingers do you actually hold the racket?

This guide shares with you the most commonly used grip (amongst a few different common table tennis grips) and our recommendation – The Shakehand Grip

We aim to teach you how to grip your racket in the correct way to progress in table tennis and get you out of the ‘social players’ bracket.

Finger placement

The first important thing to keep in mind when it comes to holding the racket is finger placement.

First of all, if you look at your racket, you will see that at the top of the handle, your blade will have a slope that is designed to rest your thumb.

A picture highlighting the Table Tennis Racket Slope
A picture of theShakehand Grip Finger Placement Step 1

The index finger will go parallel to the thumb, on the other side of the racket. The index can go completely parallel to the handle or also slightly tilted upwards, like so:

A picture of the Shakehand Grip Finger Placement Step 2

The remaining three fingers should wrap around the handle, like so:

A picture of the Shakehand Grip Finger Placement Step 3

You shouldn’t use a lot of force with the middle, the ring, and the pinky finger because that takes away the mobility of the wrist.

The function of those fingers is to give stability to the shots, and the thumb and index are meant to generate acceleration.

The final grip on both sides would be this:

Shakehand Grip Explainer

If we see Timo Boll’s grip, we can see that his thumb rests on the slope and the index is slightly pointed upwards:

A picture of the Timo Boll's Grip Finger Indication

Also, notice how Timo has no separation between the thumb and the other 3 fingers.

How to grip your table tennis racket

In order to improve and play a wide variety of shots, it is necessary to grip the racket correctly.

In this video, I will show you the right way to grip the racket.

First, position your hand on the right side of the handle if you’re right-handed and on the left side of the handle if you’re left-handed.

Next, you’ll need to place your thumb on the slope and put the index finger in its place.

Finally, wrap your middle, ring, and pinky finger around the handle so that there’s little to no gap between the thumb and the other 3 fingers.

Once you know where each finger goes and how to grip the racket correctly, you’ll be able to grab your racket in just a few seconds, like so:


A very important part of the grip is the pressure with which you should grip the racket. Should you hold the racket tight or loose? And with what fingers?

First of all, the racket should be gripped relatively loosely overall, but with a little more force from the thumb and index fingers than with the other 3 fingers.

The middle, ring, and pinky finger should not actively grab the racket. They are simply there to give the grip stability.

The thumb and index should “pinch” the racket, but not with excessive force. 

This neutral grip should be loose enough to perform touch shots but not to the point that you lose stability on blocks and flat hits.

It should be loose, yet stable.

If you only hold the racket with your thumb and index, you can topspin easily, but you won’t have enough stability for blocking.

All fingers should generally grip the racket loosely, but this also depends on the type of shot you’re playings.

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Shot selection

Imagine that you want to play a short push or a drop shot. Now imagine a different situation where you want to perform a powerful smash.

It is clear that in the short push and drop shot you will have to grip your racket very delicately so that the ball goes short.

And in the smash, you’re going to grip the racket much more tightly to lock the wrist and to provide the racket with a stable base.

Many players, especially beginners, have the problem that they grip the racket too tightly all the time. Because of this, they never get the delicate, soft touch needed to perform pushes, chop blocks, or brushed loops.

It is necessary to change the pressure you grip the racket with depending on the type of shot you play. You can’t do a drop shot with a lot of pressure or a smash without pressure.

Another factor that changes how much pressure you should grip your racket with is your racket itself.


Imagine two different rackets, one has slow, soft rubbers, and the other has hard, fast rubbers.

To use the fast and hard racket, you will have to play all your shots with fine, delicate contact.

The racket is already very fast, so if you grip it exerting too much pressure, you will overshoot the table and won’t get spin on the ball.

That’s why we recommend buying softer, slower rackets at first. These rackets are a lot easier to use, so they are ideal for learning to play.

This is what players mean when they don’t recommend hard and fast rackets for beginners.

Beginners will not have the soft touch nor the timing needed to play with these rackets.

One of the reasons why we recommend playing with the same blade and not changing it constantly is that you will know how hard you should grip it to get the best results.

This is a subconscious process that develops over time as you become more familiar with the racket.

It is important to know the feeling of the blade and how the racket will react depending on how we hit the ball to progress in this sport.

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The Controller

Alvaro’s been playing Table Tennis since he was 15 and is now ranked within the top 100 in his native Argentina. He loves to compete in provincial tournaments and is always looking for ways to improve. Alvaro made his favourite memories with a racket in hand, and he joined the RacketInsight team to share his passion with other players!

Blade: Butterfly Fan Zhendong ALC | Forehand: Butterfly Dignics 09c | Backhand: Butterfly Rozena
Playstyle: The Controller

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