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Penhold Advantage and Disadvantage

Some people are excited to learn and associate with players that want to improve their skill and share ideas and knowledge of the fun of table tennis. But most of them are having the question on why reverse backhand cannot be as good as shakehand? Well, if you are having the same question in mind, then it looks like you and I are not the only ones for this.

More Spin in Short Distance

Actually, I think reverse backhand is in some ways better than shakehand. Mainly because one is able to spin the ball more at short distances. This is mainly what I notice 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, just practice a lot and train a lot. By the time you will see the result which is better than shakehand backhand. Take a look at Wang Hao as he is the perfect live example that you can follow suit.

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 it a lot with my machine.

However, when it comes to a match I revert back to 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. It’s a really good example that everyone who is of penhold player shouldn’t miss. The video shows you the grip stance, feet positioning, and etc.

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

Here is the video, I watch it about once a month or so and I been benefited a lot from it and can see a very significant improvement in my penhold skill.

It is just as good as well as just as 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 on his warm up and you can learn how to block from him. The way he turns his paddle upside down or tilted forward is especially working well.

As I have been playing RPB(reverse penhold backhand grip) since I started in 2010 and I’m still surprising myself how much more you can develop the technique every once in a while.

However, in my opinion, one major drawback for 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 (as not to lose the advantage) and using RPB. Of course, you need to practice your RPB a lot at the same time since it needs practice.

More Advantages of Using Penhold

Penhold is more flexible, and it can have various changes. 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 are not having very good stamina, it is best for you to use the penhold method when playing table tennis.

For some players, they choose to use penhold is just because of personal preferences. 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 Lesser Players Using Penhold Grip?

For competitive sports, winning is everything. If we take a look of the world top table tennis player ranking, there is only one player who is using penhold, Xu xin from China. The rest of the players are using 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, which makes the ball to be complicated for the opponent to return the shot.

penhold grip

However, the current development of technology and changes in equipment has made the rally to become gradually simpler and more efficient. In this way, the advantages of the penhold grip can no longer be reflected, but the weakness of the penhold grip is enlarged, which makes the penhold grip to become 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.

Wang Hao can play the RPB very well, what I can say is Wang Hao’s backhand stroke is not all about technique, but rather is the kind of backhand feeling that is gifted from the god.


It is quite difficult for a player to play with penhold grip now, 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 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 shakehand grip when they start their training.

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