Holding the Bat

Ask the coachCategory: OtherHolding the Bat
Johnny Clougherty asked 4 months ago

Hello Tom

It’s getting close to 3.5 years now since I started playing and I am doing OK. My 2 hour lesson with you certainly helped. However  I have started practicing more with the elite players at the club which is very kind of them as I am a lower league player and several of them are telling me a need to change my grip.

On the forehand my index finger is pointing upwards and not as its supposed to be pointing to the side. I have tried practicing the correct way but I am absolutely useless and I also find it very uncomfortable, its actually a little painful and very awkward. What’s strange however when switching to the backhand I do automatically switch to the correct way of holding the bat and it feels fine. My back hand is much stronger as well. If I change my grip now all my good work will have been in vein.

My forehand can still be improved a lot with out changing the way I hold my grip which I shall work on. I realise the way I am holding the bat is tensing the wrong muscles in my arm and its much harder to flick my wrist because of how I am holding the bat.
What advise can you give me regarding this issue?

1 Answers
Tom Lodziak Staff answered 4 months ago

This is a tricky issue, and I suspect my point of view is a minority one. 
My grip is also sub-optimal. Like you, my finger tends to come up a little high when playing forehands. But it doesn’t stay there permanently. When I play backhands, I move the finger back into place. This is all happening subconsciously. 
For whatever reason, I find this grip the most comfortable for me. I accept that with this grip my spin potential is reduced. But every time I’ve tried to change to a more othordox grip, I find it uncomfortable and just can’t play my shots as well. So I have come to accept that my grip is not the best, but it works for me. And I don’t really care what anyone else says. Over the years I have seen so many players with slightly odd grips and they still play to a really decent standard. 
I also wonder how much the shape of our hand has an impact on the grip we take. I can’t find any table tennis specific research on this, but there does seem to be a variety of hand shapes and finger lengths, which must have an impact. A grip which is comfortable for one person, may not be for another. 
So back to you … it is a good idea to experiment with a grip change, but if you don’t experience any benefit, then what’s the point? Find a grip which is comfortable to use and work around it. You can find ways of generating more speed and spin with any grip, so it shouldn’t limit you that much. Other players will still tell you that you are holding the bat wrong, but unless they can give you a really compelling reason to change, then just ignore them.