You are holding the sticks wrong! Thumb, Pinch or Hybrid-Pinch?

by Oscar

There are more than one way to hold your radio sticks, and you could have been holding them wrong the whole time! You can pinch, or just use your thumbs. The debate of which way is best will perhaps never end, but you should explore and find your own style.

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Most if not all FPV pilots are either thumbers, pinchers, or hybrid-pinchers by the way they hold the radio sticks. Each way has its own pros and cons, and hopefully this article helps you decide which is the best for you.

If you have your own unique way of holding the sticks that we haven’t discussed here, let us know in the comment! :D


By resting your thumbs on top of the sticks, you can hold the radio body securely with the rest of your fingers. If you are a gamer, or new to the hobby, you’ll probably find this way more intuitive and natural.

Table of Contents


  • Easier to learn for most people since we probably all have experience from using gaming consoles
  • On some radios, it’s easier to reach the auxiliary switches with your free index fingers
  • Increased range of motion, your stick can travel further without the restraint from your index finger
  • You can move the stick faster
  • Works especially well on smaller radios


  • Control is less precise than pinching
  • Shaky fingers can get worse
  • If you fly intensively you might find stickend marks on your thumbs :D


Pinching the sides of the stick with your index finger and thumb.


  • It helps to stabilize movement if you have “shaky fingers” from either nervousness or cold weather
  • Control is more precise and “smooth”


  • It takes some getting used to
  • It could be difficult to go full throw with the sticks, thus restricting full movement
  • Depending on the radio, you might need a neck strap for additional support
  • Awkward hand positioning with smaller radios

Hybrid Pinch

Hybrid pinch is a cross between thumbing and pinching, basically placing your thumb directly on top of the stick, with your index finger gently resting on the side of the stick to help stabilize the movement.

This brings the best of both worlds, especially for those who are familiar with thumbing but are looking for better precision with their controls. Or if you just want to ease the symptom of shaky fingers, hybrid pinching is a good way to improve the smoothness of your flying.

Conclusion – Pinch or Thumb?

The decision is a combination of personal preference, and radio shape/size. Give each grip a try, fly a few batteries and see how it feels. You may be surprised with how much more comfortable one method is than another.

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Joe 5th February 2024 - 12:40 pm

Well, since I started out on a cell phone simulator, I used the “on screen” stick controls. Did that for almost a month till I finally got a controller, then started using a PC sim with the controller. Found using my thumbs exclusively on the on screen controls was a natural transition to using thumbs on a controller.

Even though I’m flying now, I still grab the phone when I’m sitting around or taking a crap. In every way, I’m literally practicing and flying with thumbs.

Oscar 5th February 2024 - 4:41 pm

I started using my thumbs too, but ultimately after trying all the different ways I found hybrid pinching is the best method for me :)

Endlesshunt 16th April 2021 - 1:21 pm

I used to fly for 30 plus years as a thumber, but in two separate accidents I tore the ligaments of my right thumb and also cut into the thumb muscles on my left palm. So now both my thumbs are useless for flying and Pinching/Hybrid Pinching is the only way to fly. Took a long time to retrain as my index fingers must give 99% of the control and the thumbs is just along for the ride.

Sean McBride 9th April 2021 - 5:48 pm

Well I came from gaming world and thumber all the time. Started flying 20 years ago planes and helis. Now inton Gov and using pincher in throttle and yaw, thumb for pitches and roll. Seems to work best because have short fingers and it hard to hold controller. I’ve been trying pinching with both hands until accidentally hit disarm and 3″ whoop fell out of the sky. So pretty set on this style?

Red 16th December 2020 - 11:01 pm

I started as a pincher but now trying thumbing I find it much much easier. Probably because I have big hands and can get full sticks very easily. Breaking the mould I guess..

Oscar 11th January 2021 - 3:06 pm

Exactly, my experience is the opposite, from thumbing to pinching. It’s good to hear others experience sometimes, but at the end of the day you have to try it yourself and find out what works for you.

Sam Dickinson 27th January 2020 - 9:41 pm

Just change. You’ll have to redevelop your muscle memory, but at least you’ll have the basics down pat already.

yds 27th January 2020 - 6:19 pm

I started thumbing cuz I’ve never heard of how to hold a radio for pinching.. then retrained myself to pinch and hybrid pinch.. didn’t take that long and I can’t imagine going back to thumbing.. that said, some of the best pilots in the world are thumbers..

I believe it’s worth the effort to rewire your brain for pinch.. cuz then you can fly hybrid without any rewiring and hybrid is kinda like enhanced thumbing.. basically once you rewire your brain for pinch you’ll be able to fly all three styles of holding the sticks equally well..

kinda like if you learn to drive stick you can still drive an automatic equally well without much relearning..

Steven Socci 27th January 2020 - 4:33 pm

I’ve just returned to the hobby a year ago. I am a thumb pilot but would like more control. I’ve spoken with experienced pilots who are also “thumbers”. They tell me they tried to switch to pinching but found it difficult. Since I am still a novice, I’d like to try to pinch for more control and less shaking when I am nervous (which I am 90% of the time). The experienced pilot’s statement planted a seed that I’ll never be able to switch. So my question is, in your experience, about how many flights do you think it will take to get use to the pinching? I am still “green” at flying. I can take off, land and do simple maneuvers. RF-9 is on order as well.

Oscar 2nd February 2020 - 3:53 pm

for me it took about a month :) But once I learnt pinching I felt like my control was more solid :)
Practice in simulators too it can speed things up a lot.