How to Hold a Fightstick

One of the first things you need to learn about using an arcade/fight stick is how to hold it. While it may come naturally to some, it’s always good to establish a solid baseline technique.

In this guide, I will show a variety of different ways to hold your arcade stick. It’s worth pointing out that there is no right or wrong way to hold a stick. Quite simply, if it works for you, then go for it. Let’s get started.

Where you should place your fight stick

It would help if you placed your stick on your lap or a flat surface. But, again, this comes down to personal preference. Many professional players use it, either way, so do whatever is comfortable for you.

Lap

If you don’t have access to a flat surface or you like to sit on the couch/sofa when playing, then your lap might be the most comfortable place for your fight stick.

The lap particularly suits larger fightsticks as these don’t tend to move around a lot. I also find that playing on the lap allows me to rest my arms more easily on the stick compared to a desk or table.

It’s also more practical to play on your lap during a local tourney or on the move, as table space isn’t always guaranteed.

Other Surfaces

Other surfaces could include a coffee table, desk, chair, TV stand, the floor, etc. Make sure the surface is stable. You don’t want to break your favorite monitor playing on a desk — trust me, I know.

Where you should place your hands

Here comes the fun part. It’s important to establish good fundamentals, and hand placement is key.

This mostly comes down to two things — left-hand placement and right-hand placement. In other words, how you will grip your joystick and how you are going to press the buttons.

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to get this right and make sure you are comfortable from the outset.

How to grip your joystick

First of all, choose a comfortable grip. You could be playing for hours on end, and if your arm wears out during an intense game, it could be the difference between you winning and losing.

It’s worth noting that there are many different styles of grips to use. Here are the most common.

1. Wine Glass Grip

How to hold a fightstick - wine glass grip

A common favorite and one that I personally use.

To execute this, start by gripping the joystick in between your middle and ring finger, like a wine glass.

With your palm facing up, while in the wine glass grip, turn your hand 90 degrees to the right so that the right side of your left hand (pinky finger side) is rested firmly on the stick.

You can then use your middle and index fingers and your thumb to move the joystick.

Remember to try and keep your hand planted to the stick. Most of the movement will be with your fingers and thumb.

2. Broomstick Grip

Broomstick Grip - How to hold a fightstick

Also known as the classic full hand grip. This grip is mostly used with straight joysticks, similar to those in the arcade, and is also used today for ball joysticks.

To execute this grip, simply hold the joystick with your fingers and palm. Your thumb can rest over the ball. That’s it, almost like holding a broomstick.

The main advantage of this grip is it allows you to have better control of the joystick, albeit for sacrificing comfort.  

3. Hybrid Grip

This one is similar to the wine glass grip and offers more control of the joystick.

This time instead of gripping the joystick with your middle and ring finger, grip the stick in between your pinky and ring finger.

This allows you to move the stick with 4 fingers, instead of three, as with the wine glass method.

While this grip gives you more control than the wine glass grip and is more comfortable than the broomstick grip, it isn’t easy to execute and will require some practice.

The hybrid grip, if mastered, can be very effective. Diago Umehara uses this grip when playing, and he’s a multiple Evo champion.

What grip do the pros use?

To help you consider what grip to use, I thought it would be useful to list what the pros use.

Diago Umehara
Game: Street Fighter
Grip: Hybrid

Justin Wong
Game: Street Fighter, Marvel
Grip: Broomstick

Kazunoko
Game: Street Fighter, DBZ Fighter
Grip: Wine Glass

JDCR
Game: Tekken
Grip: A variation of the Broomstick

How to press the buttons

I know what you’re thinking. Are you really going to tell me how to press a button? Well, yes.

As I’ve said before, there isn’t a right way to do this. Just do what feels natural.

What I will say is that it depends on the game. For example, some games require you to press certain button combinations that require you to use most of your fingers. On the other hand, some games may only require using maybe two or three fingers.

For instance, I will use my index, middle, and ringer finger on street fighter to execute moves— almost like playing the piano. On Tekken, I’ll do something similar but also incorporate my thumb. But, again, it’s a personal preference.

Honestly, as long as you have your grip down, the rest will come naturally.

Ok, so I know how to hold a fightstick. Now what?

Now it’s time to practice. Pick a comfortable position and grip, and load up your favorite fighting game. and start practicing moves.

Practice for about 30 mins before switching up. After going through all the different positions and grips, ask yourself, which is the most comfortable? The one you find most comfortable is the one you should stick with.

At the end of the day, it’s about finding the technique that works for you. Once you establish your baseline technique, the rest will follow.