PingPod #43 Grip Changes Between Backhand and Forehand

9 years ago

Table Tennis Thoughts

In this PingPod we discuss using subtle grip changes between backhand and forehand whilst using the shakehand grip. The conclusion we came to was that you should have a loose grip allowing subtle changes but it's not something you should focus on. When learning try to use a neutral grip and then the relaxed grip will allow you some movement without causing you problems switching between the backhand and forehand.

Leave a comment to let us know if and how you change your grip between backhand and forehand.



Jeff: Welcome to the PingPod, the Ping Pong Podcast by PingSkills. I'm Jeff Plumb and with me is Alois Rosario.

Alois: Wow, PingPod again.

Jeff: PingPod again, it's been a little while but this is episode 43.


Jeff: Indeed! Today we're talking about the grip Alois. In particular the shakehand grip and changing between backhand and forehand. Now generally we always say keep the grip neutral but we've just been doing a few experiments and we're getting a lot of questions about this. Is it OK to change the grip so we thought we'd talk a bit about it.

Alois: Yep. Good idea. So I think in general if you keep in mind, especially when you're learning, keep the grip the same. So when we talk about keeping it the same that's a nice neutral grip right in the middle where you can play backhand and forehand just as easily. So your backhand grip and your forehand grip are exactly the same. But as we start to progress and we start to want to generate a little more speed and a little bit more spin you can start to make subtle changes with your grip I think Jeff.

Jeff: OK yeah and we did a little bit of an experiment just before Alois where we were playing backhands and forehands and trying to topspin and for me I think I do slightly change it but hardly at all. I think on the backhand I just use my finger here just to push on the bat a little bit and angle it back towards what people would call a backhand grip but it's very subtle and then on the forehand I just angle it back again. And so it's almost a seamless change that happens just from switching from the backhand to the forehand. And it's more when I'm topspinning, if I'm blocking I think I pretty much keep the same grip. How did you find it?

Alois: I found it exactly the same so when I'm blocking it's basically the same on both sides but once I start to want to play a more attacking stroke especially with the backhand and forehand topspin then I start to change a little bit. So what happens is I've got some air or I've got some space in here and that space is where I use to start to change the angle of the grip. The way I'm doing it is I'm putting a little bit of pressure here to change it slightly that way, and that way. So you can see that I'm changing it very subtly and it's only a very small movement of my pointer finger or there and I'm also utilising my middle finger here a little bit just to push it around slightly as well. So you can see by doing that it changes the angle of my racket slightly. So it isn't much at all it's not like I'm turning the bat around in my hand here and then turning it around there it's just a very subtle little change used by just the end of my pointer finger there and the middle finger just changing it around there a little bit. So that's how I get the changes. Yeah what about you Jeff?

Jeff: Excuse me, I've got a bit of a cough in my throat there.

Alois: Are you OK Jeffrey?

Jeff: I'm OK thank you.

Alois: Alright.

Jeff: Yeah same thing. I think just a very subtle thing but we do get some questions about players altering it quite a lot and I think that can be detrimental because you are going to get caught out between grips.

Alois: Yeah and that's the real key. If you try and do something where you just haven't got the time to do it to change then it's just not going to work. If you're making big changes from here to here then. Jeff, are you alright?

Jeff: Ah boy, excuse me. Stuck right in the throat, really.

Alois: No good?

Jeff: No good.

Alois: Bugs?

Jeff: Who knows?

Alois: So I think just making those subtle changes is OK. Don't try and make big changes of your grip because you just don't have time. The game is just too fast.

Jeff: So is it something you ever focussed on?

Alois: No.

Jeff: So maybe, should people experiment a little bit just for fun?

Alois: I think the key is if you keep the hand and the fingers relaxed then you will have the ability to just make those subtle changes. As soon as you grip your bat too tight then any change becomes really difficult. To change, I mean it's hard to demonstrate here but if I've got my bat really hard in my hand there then to try and change the angle takes a lot of muscles but if it's completely loose and relaxed then it doesn't take much to change the angle of my racket at all. So that's where we talk about a little bit of space in here, nice relaxed fingers and hand, so your thumb is relaxed, your forefinger is relaxed, and the other three fingers are also relaxed so that you can manoeuvre and change the angle.

Jeff: And like you said that's not only good for switching between backhand and forehand that's also good for delicate returns of serve.

Alois: Exactly. So when you're making that short push if you've got a nice relaxed grip, you can absorb the spin and speed on the ball as well.

Jeff: Alright, so we'd love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment to let us know about your grip, whether you hold it really tight and whether you switch between the backhand and forehand and we'll keep the discussion going on our blog. So thanks for watching and we will see you on the next PingPod. Bye.

Alois: Bye.

Thoughts on this blog

Notify me of updates
Gee Mure

Gee Mure Posted 9 years ago

 I think Alois is onto something re the benefits of a loose grip in being extra adaptive/intuitive.  I tend to want to stray into tight control but in many pursuits - table tennis, skateboarding and motor sports I've noticed high performers tend to take a more relaxed, natural approach and it pays dividends. if you can trust that part of your subconscious.  A while back I had a break from playing for a week or two and when I did have a game with some mates my form felt haphazard and loose from a blade control perspective but the shots were ripping in consistently - lasted a few days and they I started thinking too much again, still trying to re-find that mojo ;)

Ilia Minkin

Ilia Minkin Posted 9 years ago

A few months ago I noticed that I really did regrip by relocating my thumb from handle closer to the center of the racket. Then I realized that it was no good, so I changed my grip to a neutral one. Nowadays the only noticeable difference between my forehand and backhand grips is relaxation. On backhand I relax more to utilize my wrist, especially on topspin flicks, while on forehand I tend to hold too tight. So when I switch from FH, to BH I automatically relax the grip more. I'm working to be relaxed on FH as well, but it is too hard to break the old habit :(

Matthias Boos

Matthias Boos Posted 9 years ago

My comment and question is related to the grip changes when serving pendulum serve (shake hand grip). I noticed that I use a modifyed grip for the normal pendulum serve. However, for the reverse pendulum serve I have much more control when modifying the grip a little more. My point finger moves up towards the middle of the racket. Is it advisable to have different grips for those serves?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Matthias,

For serving it is OK to modify the grip.  It is a bit slower and will give you a bit more time to change back to your standard grip for the rest of the rally.  The only thing is if you have a different grip between your pendulum and reverse it may be easier for your opponent to tell what serve is coming.

William Phifer

William Phifer Posted 8 years ago

Awsome explanation and confirmation of my own feeling of what happens when playing with a relaxed grip.  I think with experience, you just start to make these subtle grip changes naturally.  Thanks!  Bill P

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Glad it was useful Bill.

Become a free member to post a comment about this blog.