Penhold Advantage and Disadvantage

Some people are excited to be associate with famous players. This is because they want to improve their skills and share ideas about table tennis. Most of them wonder why reverse backhand cannot be as good as shakehand? Well, if you have the same question in mind, then it looks like you and I are not the only ones for this.

More Spin in Short Distance

I think reverse backhand in some ways is better than shakehand. Mainly because one can spin the ball more at short distances. I noticed this about Wang Hao’s backhand. It has as much spin as some forehand loops. Shakehand backhand has better blocking and flipping.

wang hao

Photo Source: ITTF
In my opinion, you need to practice a lot to see good results. Take a look at Wang Hao he is the perfect example to emulate.

For myself, I have been a penhold player all my life. It is more difficult to return a far-left shot and short flicks though. The RPH(reverse penhold) not only compensates for them but enables a more powerful spinning shot when executed. I practiced a lot with my machine.

However, when it comes to a match I revert to the traditional penhold. It’s hard to break the muscle memory habit after so many years. I’ll keep trying though.

Play Like Wang Hao

By the way, there is a good Wang Hao tutorial on penhold and reverse penhold that you can see in the video. The video shows you the grip stance, feet positioning, etc.

After watching the video tutorial, I found out my racket angle was incorrect all this time. He started the swing from the elbow, not the wrist to generate more spin and power.

Here is the video, I watched it about a month ago. I benefited a lot from it and can see a very significant improvement in my penhold skill.

It is just as good but harder to learn. That’s why there are mostly shake hand grips. Another good example of the top penhold player in the world would be Xu Xin. He is good at his warm-up and you can learn how to block from him. The way he turns his paddle upside down or tilted forward works well.

As I have been playing RPB(reverse penhold backhand grip) since I started in 2010, I’m still surprising myself at how much more I develop the technique.

However, one major drawback of the penhold backhand is a bigger crossover point than the shakehand backhand. This is, of course, non-existent in the traditional penhold.

So my tip is to balance between traditional (not to lose the advantage) and using RPB. Of course, you need to practice your RPB a lot.

More Advantages of Using Penhold

Penhold is more flexible with different variations. Besides, you can have better control of the ball when you are playing in the middle and close to the table.

The quality of the body and physical requirement is not as high as shakehand. So, if you don’t have good stamina, you should use the penhold method when playing table tennis.

For some players, they choose to use penhold as a personal preference. If you prefer penhold and play with great flexibility, then you can just go for it.

The arc loop with penhold seems to be easier to practice than the shakehand, but the most important thing is that you like this style of play.

Why are Lesser Players Using Penhold Grip?

For competitive sports, winning is everything. If we take a look at the world’s top table tennis player ranking, there is only one player using penhold, Xu xin. The rest of the players use shakehand. Because of this, more and more people are starting to play table tennis with shakehand grip.

Traditionally, the advantage of the penhold grip is the handling of the short ball and the preemptive attack. This complicates the ball for the opponent to return the shot.

penhold grip

However, the development of technology and changes in equipment, it has made the rally simpler and more efficient. In this way, the advantages of the penhold grip are suppressed while the weakness is enlarged. This has made the penhold grip more and more difficult to play well in the game.

Objectively speaking, if there are many players who can play like Wang Hao, who is the master of penhold player, then penhold grip will dominate the world of table tennis.


It is quite difficult for a player to play with penhold grip, and the reasons are as follows:

  1. It is too difficult to practice the backhand stroke with penhold. Xu Xin backhand has always been his weak point. The advancement in backhand technology makes it difficult for penhold players to perform well for their backhand strokes.
  2. For penhold grip, the scope that it can take care of is not as good as the shakehand grip.
  3. The previous spinny serve and the advantages of the first three shots are no longer exist. Now you can also do it with the shakehand grip.
  4. The coaches of the professional team have less and less experience in penhold.
  5. Nowadays, children who specialize in playing table tennis are also learning the shakehand grip when they start their training.

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Warren Davies

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