by Victor Popovich

WHAT IS THE BEST TABLE TENNIS GRIP?

There are abbreviations
used here:

PHG = penhold grip
SHG = shakehand grip
FH = forehand
BH = backhand
My Grip (Main Video)
in YouTube

Главное Видео в Ютюбе


There are two basic table tennis grips, PHG (Photos 1 and 2) and SHG (Photos 3 and 4). Photo 4 located below.
Photo 1Photo 2Photo 3

Photo 1 and 3 show the moment of contact with the ball and racquet during a FH offensive stroke in a natural way without any swinging of the arm. The ball is not shown.

What is the common factor with these two grips?
Both of them have attack angle ("A" Photo 1) and angle ("C" Photo 3).

What is the difference with these grips?
PHG (Photo 1):
The blade is angled down and back. The racquet is held by the connection of the blade and the handle. The center of the gravity of the racquet is lower than the place where the player holds the racquet.

SHG (Photo 3):
The blade is angled up and forward. The racquet is held by the handle. The center of the gravity of the racquet is higher than the place where the player holds the racquet.

Which grip has the better balance of a racquet?
Generally speaking, the balance of a table tennis racquet is the location of the center of the gravity of the racquet and does not depend on a grip. We can use the same racquet with PHG or SHG to feel the difference.

I believe that PHG provides a better feeling because a player holds the racquet closer to the racquet’s center of the gravity.

This is obvious (Photo 1) that 50 percent of the handle using the PHG is not in use for holding the handle.
Why don’t penholders cut this "extra" part of the handle?

Because this will change the balance. The PHG has a better balance because the whole handle is used as the counterbalance to the blade with rubber sheets. With a penhold racquet we can cut off some part of the handle without a problem holding the racquet. We, also, can make the handle thin and long as Japanese stile of paddle. When a penhold paddle is designed, the designer can choose from a wide range of the thickness and the length.

We can see modern shakehand paddles have hollow handles. This is the only way to decrease the weight of the handle and have a better balance. The handle could not be shorter there because it would not be possible to hold the racquet. A shakehand paddle cannot have a thin handle – you would not be able to hold it. When the designer designs a shakehand paddle he can choose from a small range of the thickness, and the length cannot be shorter then 100mm.

Many world-class shakehanders swing their arms when execute FH and BH offensive strokes.

Photo 4Photo 5Photo 6

Photos 4, 5, and 6 show SHG.
Photo 4 - without the swinging of the arm.
Photo 5 - with the swinging for FH offensive stroke.
Photo 6 - with the winging for BH offensive stroke.

These arm swings are not natural and not comfortable.

To find out which basic grip is better we have to see what will happen with the racquet during the execution of offensive strokes.


In case of PHG:

Fig. 1Fig. 2Fig. 3

Look at Fig. 1. This is a device that imitates a penhold player. The device has a carriage that can move on its wheels. The carriage is connected with a racquet by a spring. A player does not hold his racquet with stiff-arm so the spring imitates his arm. The spring allows change in the position of the racquet relative to the place where the racquet connected with the spring. The angle “A” between the carriage and the racquet is the attack angle and for an example is equal to 45 degrees.

On Fig. 2 a table tennis ball hits the racquet.
Will the racquet change its position relative to the place where the racquet is connected with the spring?
Yes. As soon as the ball hits the racquet bellow the place where the racquet connected with the spring the blade will move a little to the right and up. But that means that the attack angle “A” is decreased.For an example this decrease is just 1 degree. But in a real game the whole speed of the collision of the ball with the racquet consists of the sum of the speeds of the ball and the racquet. In general the both speeds are equal. So, a distortion of the attack angle “A” caused by the collision is 2 degrees and the angle “A” will be 45 – 2 = 43 degrees.

Look at Fig. 3. Let us apply a force to the carriage to the left. Now a little bit about force, speed and acceleration. The Newton’s second law of motion states: The acceleration of an abject is proportional to the force that applied to the body and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.
People talking about sport occasionally say that a person or the person’s part is accelerating if he is moving fast. This is not correct. Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity. Instead of term velocity I will use term speed.

The force is applied to the carriage and the same force is applied to the racquet by the spring.

Will the racquet change its position relative to the place where the racquet connected with the spring?
Yes. This is because the force is not applied to the center of the gravity of the racquet. Compare accelerations of the racquet’s handle and blade with rubber sheets. Because the same force is applied to the both parts there is a partion of the law: The acceleration of an object is inversely proportional to the mass of the object. The mass of the handle is less then the mass of the blade with rubber sheets. As the acceleration of an object is inversely proportional to the mass of the object, then the acceleration of the handle is greater then the acceleration of the blade with rubber sheets. So, relative to the place where the racquet connects to the spring, the handle will move to the left and the blade will move to the right. But that means that the attack angle “A” is decreased.

The racquet is much heavier then the boll and the distortion caused by the acceleration is greater. For an example this decrease is 10 degrees and now the attack angle is equal to 45 – 10 = 35 degrees.

The final distortion of the attack angle caused by the collision and the acceleration is 2 + 10 = 12 degrees.

The same happens with a penhold player’s racquet when he executes very fast loop or hit with relaxed wrist.

If a “penholder” (carriage) hits the ball very slow, the attack angle in this example is 45 degrees. In a case of intensive acceleration and hitting the ball, this angle is 45 – 2 – 10 = 33 degrees.

In a case of the same attack angle there are two limit speeds: “net” speed and “edge” speed. If the ball is hit with the speed less then the “net” speed, then the ball hits the net.
If the ball is hit with the speed greater then the “edge” speed, then the ball will be out of the table.

My scope of interest is with very fast offensive strokes that could be executed only if a player applied a high force to get good acceleration of his arm.

Because of the 12 degree distortion of the attack angle, the greater a penholder accelerates his arm (racquet) the closer the angle of the attack!
So a penhold player does not need to decrease the attack angle, because this is done automatically when he accelerates his arm with a relaxed wrist. The greater a penholder accelerates his arm, the greater the difference between actual speed of the racquet and the “edge” speed. But there is a compensation “mechanism” that does not allow the ball getting out of the edge. This “mechanism” is – the closing of the attack angle of the racquet, during the acceleration.

And this happens without the penholder doing anything special.

The penholder does not need to make much of an adjustment to the attack angle or swing the arm or hold the racquet more firmly and could play with relaxed wrist.

This is the key to understanding, why there is a great control, when a penholder executes offensive strokes with different acceleration of his arm.


In case of SHG:

Fig. 4Fig. 5Fig. 6

Look at the Fig. 4. Now the same device imitates a shakehand player. The racquet is directed forward and up, as shakehanders hold their racquets.
The angle “C” between the carriage and the racquet is the attack angle and is the same 45 degrees.

At the Fig. 5 a table tennis ball hits the racquet.
Will the racquet change its position relative to the place where the racquet is connected with the spring?
Yes. As soon as the ball hits the racquet above the place where the racquet is connected with the spring the blade will move a little to right and up. But that means that attack angle “C” is increased. For an example this increase is 1 degree. The carriage does not accelerate and angle “C” is 45 + 1 = 46 degrees. But in a real game the whole speed of the collision with the ball and the racquet consists of the speed of the ball and the speed of the racquet. In general the both speeds are equal. So, a distortion of attack angle “C” caused by the collision is 2 degrees and the angle “C” will be 45 + 2 = 47 degrees.

Look at Fig. 6. Let us apply a force to the carriage to left.
Will the racquet change its position relatively to the place where the racquet connected with the spring? Yes.
The mass of the handle is less then the mass of the blade with rubber sheets. As the acceleration of an abject is inversely proportional to the mass of the object, then the acceleration of the handle is greater then the acceleration of the blade with rubber sheets. So, relative to the place where the racquet connects to the spring, the handle will move to the left and the blade will move to the right. But that means that attack angle “C” is increased. For an example this increasing is 10 degrees. And now the attack angle is equal to 45 + 10 = 55 degrees.

The final distortion of the attack angle caused by the collision and the acceleration is 2 + 10 = 12 degrees.
If a “shakehand” (carriage) hits the ball very slow, the attack angle in this example is 45 degrees.
In a case of intensive acceleration and hitting the ball, this angle is 45 + 2 + 10 = 57 degrees.
The same happens with a shakehand player’s racquet when he executes very fast loop or hits the ball with relaxed wrist and a natural SHG where the blade is angled forward and up.

So, first, the faster a shakehander hits the ball the further the ball will fly. And second, if a shakehander’s racquet is more opened (because of the distortion) then, again, the further the ball will fly.

How can a shakehander hit the ball with the speed greater then the “edge” speed and at the same time keep the ball on the table?
A shakehander MUST decrease the attack angle! And he must do this every time when he changes the acceleration from mid loop to very fast loop or from very fast loop to mid one.
Or … to swing the arm and directed the blade backward and down (Photos 5 and 6) as penholders have naturally.

This is the key, as to why a PHG has much better control doing very fast offensive strokes compared to the SHG, and why many shakehanders swing their arms.

If the PHG is so good for offensive strokes why do so many players use the SHG?
Because when using the PHG it is very difficult to execute BH offensive strokes. There are not even many world-class players who often use, so called reverse BH loops, on important tournaments playing with the same level players.
As we can see in the long “war” between PHG and SHG, more and more oriental world-class players use SHG. This is because SHG has just one major weakness so-called elbow dead zone. This is not so bad as using PHG where the whole BH side is a huge weakness.

Why is it so easy to execute offensive BH strokes using SHG and why is it so difficult to execute the same strokes using PHG?
Because using the SHG the blade is parallel to the palm!
Photo 3 shows that using the SHG the blade is parallel to the palm.
It is obvious (angle "B" Photo 2) that using the PHG, there is roughly 80 degrees between the blade and the palm. It is very hard to execute BH loop because this is not natural for the PHG and harmful for the rist.

Penholders are trying to modify the PHG – they twist the racquet counterclockwise to have the blade more closely parallel to palm.

I am sure that, the main reason why the PHG is not good for executing BH offensive strokes, is that the blade is not parallel to the palm as using the SHG.

The second reason why the reverse BH loop is not a sufficient weapon is because the best place on a racquet for hitting the ball (middle of the blade) is occupied with the middle, the forth, and the little fingers.

The third reason is that because of this occupation the area for hitting the ball is very small.

What do we need to do to have a grip that is better then PHG and SHG for executing very effective FH and BH offensive strokes? We have to use a modified PHG that combine the best features of the both main grips.

What is the best feature of the PHG? There is a decrease of the attack angle during the acceleration because the blade is naturally angled downward and back.

What is the best feature of the SHG? There are very good BH offensive strokes because the blade is parallel to the palm.

So, the best grip is the Parallel Penhold grip where the blade is angled down and back, in a natural way, and the blade is parallel to the palm!

As I mentioned above penholders are trying to modify the PHG. They twist the racquet counterclockwise to have the blade more closely parallel to palm. They place the index finger as close to the index finger side edge of the blade as possible. But distance between the thumb and the index finger has its limit. The angle between the blade and the palm remains very high. Not even close to what the SHG has - the blade is parallel to the palm.

Do not think that the index side edge of the blade is a real barrier to modify the PHG. Ignore this barrier and take the index finger away from the FH side of the racquet and place it on the BH side. We have to use a modification of the "common" penhold grip (Photo 7).

Photo 7Photo 8Photo 9

In this modification a penhold player replaces his index finger from the FH side of his racquet to the BH side. This modification of the PHG was known a long time ago (hereinafter 1+4 grip). To hold the racquet using 1+4 grip, a player places the thumb on the FH side and the four remaining fingers on the BH side of the blade. This grip eliminates all the disadvantages of the both basic PHG and SHG. The only crucial disadvantage of the 1+4 grip is that it is not secure and very unstable. The racquet could fly away from the player’s hand when executing a fast stroke. You can see how a French Player named Clement Debruyeres uses 1+4 grip in YouTube Video.

Photo 10Photo 11Photo 12

I have invented and patented (US 6969329) a new table tennis paddle with two different types of handles that allow to hold it like using 1+4 grip but in a very secure, stable and comfortable way.

Photo 10 shows the BH side of my paddle. Photos 11 and 12 show my Parallel Penhold grip (hereinafter PPG).

My paddle has a handle 1 (Photo 10), a cross handle 2 and a wall 3.All these parts are fixed to the BH side of the blade.

To use the PPG (Photo 11 and 12), the thumb is placed on the FH side of the racquet (Photo 12). The index finger is placed on the handle 1 and touching the wall 3. The middle, the fourth and the little finger are placed on the cross handle 2 and inserted into a cavity between the cross handle 2 and the blade. The middle finger is touching the wall 3.

Is the best place on the racquet for executing BH offensive strokes available?
Yes. Look at the Photo 11. The index, the middle, and the little fingers using PPG are curved and the best place for hitting the ball is available!

Which grip is more secure?
If you are doing a fast offensive stroke using the SHG or the PHG and release your palm at 5 millimeters, you can be sure that your racquet will fly away. Using the PPG, because the middle, the fourth and the little finger are inserted into the cavity between the cross handle and the blade, a player could release his thumb and fingers on 20mm and my racquet will not fly away doing a fast offensive stroke.

So the PPG is much more secure then the PHG or the SHG.

Which grip allows play with more relaxed fingers?
First of all, if the PPG allows release the thumb and four fingers on 20mm and the PHG and SHG do not allow release even 5mm, it is obvious that the PPG allows to play with more relaxed fingers. Photo 8 shows an absolutely relaxed palm. It is very easy to see that the PPG (Photo 11) is the closest to the most relaxed palm to compare with the PHG and the SHG. Further more, I am sure that the PPG allows a player the best possible relaxed palm.

My racquet and the PPG provides maximum advantages compared to the PHG and the SHG. There is maximum contact area between the palm and the racquet because the thumb and the index finger hold the handle 1 (Photo 10) and the three remaining fingers hold the cross handle 3. This also increases the feeling of the racquet.

How about serves?
Well known that the PHG is better then the SHG for serving. My Parallel Penhold Racquet for serving is better then using the SHG but allows to serve holding it as the PHG in an easy way (Photo 9) and then quickly flip to my PPG.


So, what is the best table tennis grip?

For execution of the most powerful and controlled forehand and backhand offensive strokes the best is the Parallel Penhold grip because the blade is naturally angled down and back with the blade parallel to the palm.


On Photo 13 you can see the last modification of my Parallel Penhold paddle and I have proved it works with testing, please view through the videos.

Photo 13

Short description of my videos in YouTube:

I started experiments with my PPG in 2003. Before that I was familiar with techniques of BH and FH loops. On my BH I used long pips rubber and on FH regular inverted rubber. My style was: hit the ball from the both sides and kill it using FH.

BH:
Before 2003 - Long Pips. Hitting and looping with regular inverted rubber was just in 2003 – 2004 and from 2005 back to long pips.

FH:
Before December 2008 I used regular inverted rubber. Then till February 2009 – Short Pips. And, now, back to regular rubber.

Serves:
Started from 2009 I use C-pen grip with flipping to my PPG. When I serve from my left side I can use the both sides of my racquet. If I use FH side of my racquet (regular rubber) then I use C-pen grip, if I use BH side of my racquet (long pips) then I use my PPG for serve. When I serve from my right side I use only C-pen grip.

Video 1: Introducing of my PPG. BH – Regular rubber, but started at 3m 9sec and ended at 3m 13sec – Long pips. FH – Regular rubber.

Video 2: BH – Regular rubber. FH – Regular rubber.

Video 3: At the very beginning I show how my racquet looks like. Also I show how my PPG is close to actual penhold grip. Also show two another modification of my PPG: 1) The middle finger is close to the index, 2) The index located on the edge of the blade. BH – Long pips rubber. FH – Regular rubber.

Video 4: At the very beginning I show C-pen grip that I use for serving and how it is easy to flip to my PPG. Started to use C-pen grip for serves with flippping to my PPG. BH – Long pips rubber. FH – Regular rubber.

Video 5: BH – Long pips rubber. FH – Regular rubber, but with my friend (Chopper) - Short pips rubber (started at 4m 40sec).

Video 6: BH – Long pips rubber. FH – Short pips rubber.

Video 7: At the end of this video with BH pushes I show that it is easy to use the both sides of my racquet. It could be good if a player uses different kind of rubbers. BH – Long pips rubber. FH – Short pips rubber.

On my videos I cannot show all aspects of table tennis playing because I don’t want to change my style of playing with long pips on my BH.