The Four Basic Table Tennis Strokes

In table tennis, as in most sports, it’s paramount to get the technical basics correct. These basic strokes are the foundations that can be built upon as a player improves. It is possible to correct major technical issues at a later stage but it’s much easier to get them right first time around. There are four basic table tennis strokes and I always strive to have my players master these before moving on to more complicated activities.

In this post I’ll be going through each of these four basic strokes and giving some tips and coaching points to help you successfully master them yourself or teach them to others. The four shots are;

  1. Forehand drive
  2. Backhand drive
  3. Backhand push
  4. Forehand push

I’ve written about each of the four strokes in more detail in their own post. Just click the links above if you’d like to read those.

The order that I have listed them is the order that I teach them in. I always start with the forehand drive as this will probably become the players most used and most important stroke. I then teach the backhand drive so that the players have a good offensive game and can rally with each other before moving on to the more defensive push strokes.

IMPORTANT: In order to learn these strokes correctly you will need a bat that can generate a good amount of spin. A lot of beginners bats are ‘dead’ and aren’t able to create spin. Learning with a bat like this can have detrimental effects on your game as you learn to compensate for your poor quality bat with an unorthodox technique.

An easy way to find out if your bat is dead is to hold a table tennis ball and rub it over the surface of your rubber. If the ball slides across the rubber, with very little resistance, then your bat is probably no good. Can I please point you in the direction of my post, The Best Table Tennis Bat for Beginners. It’s a comprehensive guide to buying your first table tennis bat, telling you what to look for and what to avoid!

Prerequisites

Before reading this post, and beginning to learn the basic table tennis strokes, I recommend you first have an understanding of three other table tennis basics…

  1. The correct table tennis grip
  2. The stance and ready position we use in table tennis
  3. The basic movement patterns and table tennis footwork

I always teach these before moving onto strokes and I think it is important to learn table tennis in this order. I know the first thing you want to do when learning a new skill is get stuck in, and in table tennis that means hitting balls, but I believe it’s much better for you, in the long run, to fully understand grip, stance and footwork before you start worrying about strokes.

I have laid out my manifesto for learning table tennis on the page, How to Play Table Tennis. Please have a look. It’s filled with all my best technical coaching articles and will give you the sequence and progression you need to fully develop all the important technical skills of the game.

Okay, now that you’ve mastered grip, stance and footwork lets look at the four basic table tennis strokes…

The Forehand Drive

I have written a full post on how to play a forehand drive, so if you are looking for more detail that is the place to go. Otherwise enjoy this summary.

I break the forehand drive down into four main parts. The stance, the backswing, the strike and the finish. Get all of these parts correct and you’ll have a pretty good basic forehand drive.

The stance is the first thing you need to worry about. Make sure this is correct before trying to hit any balls. You’ll want your feet wider than shoulder width apart (some coaches even say two shoulder widths apart). If you’re right handed, then your right foot needs to be slightly further back than your left. About half a step. Knees should be bent. Body crouched (leaning forwards) and weight on the balls of your feet (not your heels). Then put both arms out in front of you and you’re good to go.

The backswing is the first movement after you’ve seen the ball. Without it your shot will lack power and you’ll struggle to control the ball. The key things you need to remember are, rotating your body  to the right from your hips and shifting your weight onto your back foot. Keep everything else the same as it was in the stance.

The strike is the forward movement, towards the ball. You basically need to do the opposite of the backswing. Rotate your body to the left/forwards, from your hips. Transfers your weight from your back foot to front foot. Also remember to keep your bat angle slightly closed throughout, to take the ball at the peak of the bounce and keep a small gap between your elbow and body. To give the shot a bit of extra zip, try accelerating your forearm slightly as you make contact. This action is similar to a military salute and will give you a little extra pace and spin.

The finish is the end point of the shot. It’s important not to over rotate and finish with your bat over your shoulder or behind your neck, like in tennis. Instead, you should finish the forehand drive with your bat pointing where you have hit the ball. From the strike the bat should move forwards and up.  Finally, don’t forget to get back to your ready position so you can play the next shot!

If you’d like to see all of that visually, here’s a video of a Coach Tao Li, a professional Chinese table tennis player and coach, teaching the basics of the forehand drive to a young student.

This video is Lesson #3 taken from Coach Tao Li’s FREE 12-part Basics Mastery online table tennis training course. He created the course to teach the fundamental table tennis skills to players from all over the world.

To gain access to the course, all you need to do is join Table Tennis University as a FREE member and then you will be able to enroll in the Basics Mastery course. There is also a wide selection of other free and premium online table tennis courses for you to check out.

The Backhand Drive

As with the forehand drive, I break the backhand drive down into four parts. Some players find the backhand drive harder to master. This may be because the ‘backswing’ required is very different, or often they have played other racket sports and already have a wrong technique established, or they may simply have spent a lot less time playing backhand shots in general.

The stance should be ‘square to the line of play’. This means that your feet should be facing the direction of play. Usually this will mean your feet will be pointing diagonally towards your opponents backhand corner. Everything else is the same as the forehand drive. Feet slightly wider than shoulder width, body is crouched, arms are out in front of you with a bend at the elbow.

The backswing for a backhand does not involve any rotation of the body or weight transfer. Instead, just bring the bat back towards your body. If you are right-handed you will probably want to bring it back so that it is just above your left hip. This is a drive so the bat angle should be slightly closed.

The strike is pretty simple. Move your bat forwards and up, towards the ball, from your elbow. As a beginner focus on just using your elbow for movement. Common mistakes involve players using too much wrist or trying to play the shot from their shoulder (which lifts the ball). Remember to keep the bat angle closed throughout.

The finish is the same as the forehand drive. The bat should follow the ball and finish in the direction it has just been hit. Your arm should still have a slight bend in it (not finish completely straight) and just recover to your ready position and anticipate the next shot.

Here’s another video of Coach Tao Li going through the shot with a young beginner and giving some nice demonstrations himself.

This video is Lesson #8 taken from Coach Tao Li’s FREE 12-part Basics Mastery online table tennis training course (lesson #9 contains part two). He created the course to teach the fundamental table tennis skills to players from all over the world.

To gain access to the course, all you need to do is join Table Tennis University as a FREE member and then you will be able to enroll in the Basics Mastery course. There is also a wide selection of other free and premium online table tennis courses for you to check out.

The Backhand Push

The backhand push is arguably the easiest of the four basic table tennis strokes. I teach it immediately after the backhand drive as the stance/ready position needed for the shot is identical.

The stance is the same as that used for the backhand drive. Feet and body must be square to the line of play.

The backswing for the backhand push requires the bat to be brought backwards and slightly upwards, towards the chest. The bat angle will need to be open at about 45 degrees. The elbow will be bent.

The strike simply involves ‘pushing’ the bat forwards and down from the elbow. You should strike somewhere between the back and bottom of the ball. It important to ‘brush’ the ball using the rubber rather than ‘tapping’ it with the blade. The bat angle should stay open throughout the shot and you’ll want to make contact at the peak of the bounce or slightly earlier. A common mistake is trying to ‘scoop’ the ball instead of slicing it.

The finish should have the bat out in front of you and down towards the table. The angle at the elbow should have opened but the arm should still be slightly bent. The common error with the finish of the push shot is the bat moving across the body to one side when it should follow the ball.

The following video shows Cambridge-based table tennis coach Tom Lodziak explaining the backhand push in detail.

This video is Lecture #7 taken from Tom Lodziak’s FREE 10-part Table Tennis For Beginners online table tennis training course. He created the course to help players to learn basic table tennis skills and improve their practice.

To gain access to the course, all you need to do is join Table Tennis University as a FREE member and then you will be able to enroll in the Table Tennis For Beginners course. There is also a wide selection of other free and premium online table tennis courses for you to explore.

The Forehand Push

The forehand push is probably the toughest of all the basic table tennis strokes. Certainly in my role as a coach this is the shot I’ve seen beginners struggling with the most. It can feel quite unnatural at first and is made even more difficult if the feed is bad, as it often is if two beginners are playing together.

Read more  Cigarette Smoking and Risk of Different Pathologic Types of Stroke: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis

The stance needs to go back to the forehand ready position you used for your forehand drive. If you’re right-handed that means right foot slightly back and then as always, knees bent, body crouched, both arms out in front of you.

The backswing for the forehand push is not as extreme as for the drive. The push is a softer shot and therefore requires more feel and less weight transfer/power. However, you will still need a small amount of twisting backwards in preparation. You ‘ll also need an open bat angle, 45 degrees is good, like in the backhand push. Keep a small gap between your elbow and your body.

The strike requires you to twist your body forwards with a slight transfer of weight onto your front foot. You may also need to step in with your playing foot if the ball is short. Upon contact with the ball you should be using the brushing action I mentioned earlier and having very soft hands. The elbow may open slightly during the strike to combine with the turning of your body. The bat angle should be open throughout.

The finish should leave the bat in front of your body, having followed the line of the ball. As you’re putting backspin on the ball the bat should be down towards the table. The difficulty here is to follow the ball rather than swiping across your body. If your bat is finishing over to your left-hand side you may need to get your elbow slightly further forward during the strike. A tucked in elbow can lead you to swipe across the ball.

Here’s another video by Tom Lodziak, this time breaking down how to play the forehand push.

This video is Lecture #8 taken from Tom Lodziak’s FREE 10-part Table Tennis For Beginners online table tennis training course. He created the course to help players to learn basic table tennis skills and improve their practice.

To gain access to the course, all you need to do is join Table Tennis University as a FREE member and then you will be able to enroll in the Table Tennis For Beginners course. There is also a wide selection of other free and premium online table tennis courses for you to explore.

So there you have it. Hopefully, you’ve now got an understanding of the four basic table tennis strokes. Go and try them out!

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Kinds of strokes in table tennis

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Here are two FREE courses available to all members…

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— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article How to Play a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis from the website www.experttabletennis.com for the keyword kinds of strokes in table tennis.

The forehand drive is always the first of the four basic strokes that I teach. It is also Day 4 of my How to Play Table Tennis in 10 Days course (following grip, stance and footwork).

Once mastered, the forehand drive will become one of your most used table tennis shots. It forms the basis for more advanced strokes such as the block, the loop and the counter loop, so it’s really important to develop a strong and consistent stroke.

This post will highlight the correct technique for playing a forehand drive in table tennis. I will use my own knowledge as a table tennis coach and a video featuring Head Table Tennis Coach at Greenhouse Charity, Jason Sugrue.

What Is The Forehand Drive?

  • The forehand drive is one of the four basic table tennis strokes. The other three are the backhand drive, backhand push and forehand push.
  • The forehand drive is an attacking stroke played with a small amount of topspin. It is a drive shot and not a topspin loop!
  • The forehand drive is played against long or medium length topspin or float balls. You can’t play a forehand drive off a short ball (that would be a flick) and you can’t play a forehand drive off a backspin ball (that would go into the net).
  • The forehand drive is usually played from the forehand side but players are also encouraged to use their forehand drive against balls that come to their middle. Advanced players will even sometimes move around to play a forehand drive from their backhand side, if they see the ball early enough!

Jason Sugrue’s Video

Here is a really good video going through some of the key points for the forehand drive. There are a few things it doesn’t mention, such as weight transfer, but overall it does a great job for a two minute video.

My Coaching Points

Here are my key coaching points. I’ve tried to go into a bit more detail than the video. I break the forehand drive down into four sections; the stance, the backswing, the strike and the finish.

The Stance

  • Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • If right-handed, the right foot should be slightly further back than the left.
  • Knees should be slightly bent.
  • Body should be leaning forward.
  • Both arms should be out in front of you.
  • About a 90-110 degree bend at the elbow.
  • Stand quite close to the table, an arms length away.
  • Weight distributed on both feet and on the balls/toes, not heels.

The Backswing

  • Rotate your body to the right, from your hips.
  • Elbow and bat rotate back with you.
  • Bat angle closes.
  • Weight shifts onto the back foot, right foot for a right-handed player.
  • The body is moving the arm, not the other way round!

The Strike

  • Hips and shoulders rotate forwards to meet the ball.
  • The arm moves forward with the body.
  • Accelerate the forearm slightly as you make contact, similar to doing a military salute.
  • Weight transfers to the front foot, left foot.
  • Bat angle stays closed throughout the shot.
  • Take the ball at the peak of the bounce and out in front of you.
  • Keep a small gap between the elbow and the body.

The Finish

  • Follow through, forward and upward.
  • Your bat should finish roughly pointing where you have hit the ball.
  • Always get back to the ready position.

Common Errors

Here are some common errors to look out for in your own shot.

  1. Ensure your weight is moving from back foot to front foot during the strike. Some players end up with their upper body moving forwards while their lower body moves backwards.
  2. Rotate from your hips not your shoulders. The forehand drive should come from the hips. You will sometimes see players twisting back their shoulders and not moving their hips. They will look a bit like a robot playing the stroke. The lower part of your body is very important.
  3. Keep a gap between your elbows and body. A common mistake is tucking the elbows into the body, giving a very limited rotation and later on, little power.
  4. Let your body move your arm. Beginners will often swing their arm at the ball without moving their body at all. A correct forehand drive should have the rotation of the body moving the arm. The power will come from the body and good weight transfer. The arm is just for control.
  5. Keep your wrist relatively straight. Some players drop their wrist through the forehand drive so that the racket is facing downwards. This makes the shot harder to control and usually softer.
  6. Finish the shot with the bat pointing where you hit the ball. Many players over rotate and end up with the bat across their body or over their neck. This is fine is other racket sports such as tennis but not in table tennis. You should accelerate on contact with the ball and then make a solid finish with the bat out in front of you.
  7. Take the ball at the peak of the bounce. It may seem easier to wait for the ball to drop slightly before making contact but this is not a drive. On some topspin loop shots our contact point is lower but the drive is always peak of the bounce, over the table.
  8. Keep the bat angle closed throughout the stroke. Don’t try to change the angle of the bat during the shot. Some players start with a neutral bat angle and try to close it after the backswing as they strike the ball. This is not a good technique.

And that’s everything you need to know in order to master the forehand drive!

I have spent the last few years coaching thousands of children the forehand drive in group sessions and individually, and it is usually the ones that are best at listening that make the biggest improvements. There’s a lot to take in!

Try to add one point at a time to your technique to combat any brain overload. Once you have made an improvement there, add another pointer. There’s no rush and learning in this way will increase your ability to remember the key tips.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please check out my How to Play Table Tennis in 10 Days course, which goes through the 10 fundamental table tennis skills you’ll need to master in order to play the game correctly.


— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article How to Play a Backhand Drive in Table Tennis from the website www.experttabletennis.com for the keyword kinds of strokes in table tennis.

The backhand drive is the second table tennis shot that I teach to my beginners. It is a very important shot that allows you to control rallies, return opponents attacks and step on the offensive yourself. If you fail to learn the backhand drive you will find it much harder later on when you try to block with your backhand or play a more aggressive topspin stroke.

The backhand drive is probably a slightly easier shot than the forehand drive. This is largely because the backhand drive does not require the body rotation and weight transfer of the forehand drive. However, it is often under-practiced, with players preferring to work on their forehand drive, and as such many beginners lack a consistent backhand drive.

This post will highlight the correct technique for playing a backhand drive in table tennis. I will use my own knowledge as a table tennis coach and a video featuring Head Table Tennis Coach at Greenhouse Charity, Jason Sugrue.

What Is The Backhand Drive?

  • The backhand drive is one of the four basic table tennis strokes. The other three are the forehand drive, backhand push and forehand push.
  • The backhand drive is an attacking stroke played with a small amount of topspin. It is a drive shot and not a topspin loop!
  • The backhand drive is played against long or medium length topspin or float balls. You can’t play a backhand drive off a short ball (that would be a flick) and you can’t play a backhand drive off a backspin ball (that would go into the net).
  • The backhand drive is primarily played from the backhand side. Players are generally not encouraged to play backhand shots from their forehand side as this can lead to poor technique and their forehand is usually stronger.

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Jason Sugrue’s Video

Here is a really good video going through some of the key points for the backhand drive. Watch it a couple of times and then have a read of my coaching points and common errors for more information.

My Coaching Points

Here are my key coaching points. I’ve tried to go into a bit more detail than the video. I break the backhand drive down into four sections; the stance, the backswing, the strike and the finish.

The Stance

  • Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Stance is “square to the line of play”, basically your feet should be pointing in the direction you are hitting the ball.
  • Knees should be slightly bent.
  • Body should be leaning forward.
  • Both arms should be out in front of you.
  • About a 90-110 degree bend at the elbow.
  • Stand quite close to the table, an arms length away.
  • Weight distributed on both feet and on the balls/toes, not heels.

The Backswing

  • Bring your bat backwards and down to somewhere just in front of your belly button.
  • Create a slightly closed bat angle.
  • Keep your wrist straight
  • The backhand rubber should be pointing in the direction you wish to play.

The Strike

  • The arm moves forwards, to meet the ball, and slightly up, to create a bit of topspin.
  • The movement comes predominantly from the elbow and forearm.
  • Bat angle stays closed throughout the shot.
  • Take the ball at the peak of the bounce and out in front of you.
  • Keep a small gap between the elbow and the body.

The Finish

  • Follow through, forward and upward.
  • Your bat should finish pointing where you have hit the ball, roughly at about chin level.
  • Don’t let your arms swing across your body too much to the right.
  • Always get back to the ready position.

Common Errors

Here are some common errors to look out for in your own shot.

  1. The shot should come predominantly from the elbow and forearm. Some players play predominantly from the wrist (with the wrist moving across to the right) which leads to a lack of power, poor control, and often a bit of sidespin on the ball. Other players play predominantly from the shoulder (lifting their whole arm to play the shot). This leads to a lack of feeling, a slow shot, and often a lack of spin altogether as they “lift” the ball instead of drive.
  2. It should still be quite a long shot. The video said that the backhand drive is a short stroke, which is true. However, from my experience beginners tend to play their backhand drive too short rather than too long. They “poke” and “prod” at the ball instead of playing a full stroke. When you are learning, elongate the stroke to ensure you are starting with a backswing and finishing forwards and coming up to get a bit of topspin. It can then be shortened and made more efficient once you have mastered it.
  3. Follow the ball with your bat. Check the direction your bat is moving after you’ve made contact with the ball. Often beginners will find that they are moving their bat over to the right in a sort of “car windscreen wiper action”. Alternatively, some players play a sort of “slice” backhand and their arm lunges across their body to the left. Try and make sure you are hitting the back of the ball and your bat follows through in the direction of the shot.
  4. Take the ball at the peak of the bounce. In the forehand drive beginners are often tempted to take the ball too late. In the backhand drive I generally see the opposite, as players try and take the backhand drive too early, almost off the bounce. Let the ball rise, wait that split second more, and take it nice and high.
  5. Stand directly behind the incoming ball. If you’ve players tennis (or other racket sports) you’ll be aware that they usually reach and take their backhand shots wide of their body. In table tennis we do this on the forehand but not the backhand. You need to get behind the ball. One easy way to think about this is this; if you miss the shot the ball should hit you in the center of your chest, it should not go flying past you. If you were standing in the correct position and missed the ball it would hit your chest.
  6. Keep the bat angle closed throughout. It can be tempting to open-up the angle of the bat during the strike and follow-through but don’t do this. This is especially common if you are playing the shot from your shoulder and lift your whole arm (or if you’re playing with a dead bat). Keep the bat angle closed throughout the shot and ideally keep your elbow at pretty much the same height. If your elbow is moving upwards a lot during your backhand there is probably something wrong.

I hope that’s given you all the key coaching points you need for the backhand drive. I have coached this shot to hundreds of players over the last few years and there is usually just one pointer they need to change in order to be playing a good shot. This post should have helped you identify that pointer.

There’s a lot to take in when learning a new shot so try to add one point at a time to your technique to combat any brain overload. Once you have made an improvement there, add another pointer. There’s no rush and learning in this way will increase your ability to remember the key tips.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please leave me a comment or share this with a friend. I am starting to build a page entitled ‘How to Play Table Tennis‘ which I will use as a directory of all my technical coaching articles. You can find that in the top navigation under ‘Learn to Play’.

And if you’re not yet following me on Twitter or Facebook then please do that. It’s a great way to make sure you never miss out on the latest posts from Expert Table Tennis.

Thank you for reading and good luck with your backhand drive. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try to help in any way I can.


— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Different Types of Strokes: What are the Basic Strokes in Table Tennis? from the website sportypong.com for the keyword kinds of strokes in table tennis.

Do not miss this guide if you want to nail your ping pong game. You can find the best types of strokes for table tennis right here. Let’s check it out! 

Types Of Strokes For Table Tennis

The two main types of shots in table tennis are offensive and defensive. We can divide each category into different shots.  

Offensive

What is an offensive shot in table tennis? This shot aims to attack and use offensively to keep their upper hand during the game set. 

Here are 5 offensive strokes in table tennis that benefit your match: 

Speed drive

In a speed drive shot, the paddle and the stroke are perpendicular to one other.

The amount of pressure that the player applies to the ball turns into the ball’s speed, and there is no twirling impact.

This shot is rapid, finding it challenging for the opposing player to manage. Meanwhile, you have more time to prepare for a more powerful attack. 

Loop 

The loop drive stroke is the opposite of the speed drive.

The player’s goal in this situation is to contact the ball. He accomplishes this task by keeping his racket and shooting directions parallel to each other.

This stroke is nearly identical to the kick serve stroke used in tennis.

When opposed to a loop drive shot, the speed drive stroke has a substantially higher difficulty level.

Counter drive

There are some cases when a player has to choose a complex shot.

Most of the time, he’s likely to go for this shot, whose goal is to keep the paddle closed and near the ball. 

The player aims to strike the ball in such a way that it moves quickly to the opposite side of the fence. He has to deal with the stroke’s timing carefully.

Despite the complexity, many players practice this skill. When performed properly, it can be incredibly successful. 

Kinds of strokes in table tennis
1. You have to control the timing

Flick

It’s a hard shot that necessitates rapid wrist movement. If you take a ball with a backspin near the net, the ideal offensive solution is flick it.

You can smash your racket in a broader arc when you receive the ball at the other end of the table.

If the ball with backspin comes close to the net, you can’t generate high speed with a backswing. You can still control the ball by bending over the table and striking it with your wrist.

Smash

When your opponent returns a ball that rebounds too far or too low to the net, you can smash it. This skill involves a big backswing and quick acceleration to give the ball as much velocity as possible. 

The purpose of a smash is to hit the ball at such a fast rate that the opponent is unable to receive it. Because its major goal is to increase ball speed, the ball’s rotation is usually not topspin.

Kinds of strokes in table tennis
2. The speed is essential

Defensive

What are defensive strokes in table tennis? This skill helps players defend their opponent’s attacks and creates chances for their attacking strokes. 

There are 4 basic table tennis strokes you can use to defend:

Push

This shot aims to maintain the point and provide offensive chances. 

The racket will slice underneath the ball by sending a backspin, causing it to glide softly to the other side. 

The backspin causes the ball to descend toward the court as it reaches the opposing racket, making a push tougher to handle.  

If you’re a beginner, you’ll have to drive the ball back and forth, which will lead to pushing smashes.

If you compete with a professional player, this shot is not ideal because he can loop the ball, and you have to flip it when it approaches the net. 

Chop

The chop in defense is a counterpart of the loop drive in the offense. It’s heavier than a push, brought back from the table. 

The racket’s surface is primarily horizontal, with a little upward inclination, and the swing is straight back down.

The goal of a chop is to control the opponent’s topspin. A good chop should glide horizontally back to the surface, with enough backspin to cause the ball to bounce in some situations. 

Due to its massive degree of backspin, the chop can be tough to return. A few defensive players may also apply no-spin and sidespin chop types.

Kinds of strokes in table tennis
3. This shot is hard to return

Block

You can perform a block by merely positioning the paddle at the front of the ball once it has bounced.

The ball then returns toward the opposing player with nearly the same strength as it had when it first entered. 

This skill is more complicated than it sounds because several factors (like the ball’s speed and spin) affect the block’s angle. 

Your opponent may perform a superb loop, smash, or drive, only to handle the block. However, due to offensive shots’ force, he will find it hard to turn your blocked stroke. 

Lob 

The lob is perhaps the striking shot, as it pushes the ball roughly five meters into the air before landing with a lot of spin on the other side of the table. 

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To perform, you must first move back 4 to 6 meters away from the table. Then, lift the ball as high as possible.

A lob is an essential creative shot that may take on almost any bounce. To handle the spin, good players use this method to their advantage.

Kinds of strokes in table tennis
4. This striking skill is worth trying

Table Tennis Strokes – FAQs

The following questions can help you understand more about the strokes used in ping pong. Scroll down for details!

This video will share with you more counter smash tips:

Conclusion

There are different offensive and defensive strokes to use in your game. You should practice them and apply the best technique flexibly in the right situation. 

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t forget to leave them in the comments section below. Also, share your table tennis experiences with us.

Thank you for reading!

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— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article How to Execute Different Strokes in Table Tennis from the website tabletennisarena.com for the keyword kinds of strokes in table tennis.

Before learning the different strokes in table tennis, you have to ensure that you have adopted the right table tennis grip and learned the 4 basic table tennis strokes.

You also have to ensure that you have gathered knowledge of the different types of spin in table tennis and how to use the angle of your racket to brush the ball at different contact points to create different spins.

If you are serious and eager to enter into the advanced level to compete with others, then you should first cover the basic skills of table tennis. After completion of the basic skills, learn the advanced learning of strokes in table tennis.

In the game of table tennis, strokes are of two types. One is offensive strokes and another one is defensive strokes.

  • Hit (Offensive)
  • Flick (Offensive)
  • Counter-Hit (Offensive)
  • Smash (Offensive)
  • Loop (Offensive)
  • Push (Defensive)
  • Block (Defensive)
  • Chop (Defensive)
  • Lob (Defensive)

What are the Offensive Strokes in Table Tennis?

Today’s modern table tennis is dominated by offensive players. So to be good at table tennis, you have to learn the skills for the proper execution of offensive strokes to dominate over your opponent.

The offensive strokes are of five types.

Hit

It is one of the strokes in table tennis that offensive players use to continue the rally and to keep the ball in position. When you hit the ball, your bat will move perpendicular to the direction of the ball travel, so that the ball propels back to your opponent’s side.

Hit is generally characterized by a stroke to transfer the energy to create speed, not spin. So, when you hit the ball, it does not produce any arc. You should stand close to the end line and hit the ball with more energy to move the ball fast enough to beat your opponent.

Flick

It is a tricky shot by quick wrist action. If you receive a ball close to the net with lots of backspin, then the best attacking option is to flick the ball.

When you get the ball at the end of the table, you have the opportunity to swing your bat on a larger arc. But when you get the ball close to the net with backspin, you will not get the back-swing to create high speed. Still, you can attack the ball by leaning over the table and flicking the ball with quick wrist action.

To make a flick:

  • Get close to the ball by forwarding your right foot (for a right-hander) under the table.
  • Open your wrist and take your hand back to create the swing for generating power.
  • When the ball approaches you, forward your bat to make the swing.
  • Hit the ball at the top of the bounce.
  • Follow through and come back to the ready position.

To counter the spin, your bat angle should be open when you are facing the backspin and slightly closed for the topspin.

A good flick will give a point to your wallet as it angled away from your opponent with high speed.

Counter-hit

Kinds of strokes in table tennis

Counter-hit is a drive shot in table tennis that capitalizes on the incoming speed and spin to generate a speedy well-paced ball with less effort.

In the forehand counter-hit:

  • Your stance is square-on or slightly side-on against the table with your bat next right to you (if you are a right-hander) at your waist height.
  • Your upper and lower arms should form an “L” shape.
  • The forehand side of your bat should face towards the direction where you want your ball to go.
  • Forward your bat and strike the ball at the top of the bounce.
  • Complete your action by following the bat up to your head height.

In a backhand counter hit:

  • Your Bat is in front of you at the height of your belly.
  • You should take a square-on stance by leaning forward towards the direction where you want your ball to go.
  • Forward your bat and strike the ball with the backhand side.
  • Follow your bat up to the waist height.

The counter-hit is the stroke that you must learn before moving to more advanced table tennis strokes.

Smash

Kinds of strokes in table tennis
Photo: Erik Jacobs /Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Smash is all about power in table tennis. The goal of a smash stroke is to generate maximum speed, not spin. You should use smash at the time when you get a ball close to or above your shoulder height.

  • When you prepare for this shot, stand side-on the table with your weight on the back foot.
  • At the time of making the shot, transfer your weight from the back foot to the front foot. This will help you generate maximum power.

Smash is of two types, forehand smash, and backhand smash.

In case of a forehand smash, make a backswing around your shoulder height. Then forward your bat quickly, facing toward your opponent’s side to hit the ball.

For a backhand smash, the starting position of the stroke is in front of your shoulder, not beyond your shoulder, as in the case of a forehand stroke.

As the aim is to get maximum speed not spin, the hit for a smash stroke is flat and the contact point is on the middle of the ball.

Loop

The Loop stroke is an advanced table tennis offensive stroke. It is a heavy topspin stroke. Modern table tennis is mainly dominated by loop shots.

Kinds of strokes in table tennis
Kinds of strokes in table tennis
  • The rotation of the trunk is very important in a looping shot.
  • Be sure, to bend your knees, rotate your trunk and then swing your racket from the knee height to the head height.
  • Keep your elbow high than your wrist during the rotation.
  • Your wrist has a very important role in a looping shot.
  • Keep it flexible and give the last-minute slap to the ball to increase the amount of spin and speed.
  • To counter a backspin ball with a looping shot, your racket should start from low with a less closed angle than to counter a topspin.

In the forehand topspin, your stance is side-on the table to give your bat space for the swing. But in backhand topspin, your stance is square on the table.

What are the Defensive Strokes in Table Tennis?

Learning defensive strokes is of great importance for those whose aim is to be defensive players. And for the attackers, it is also important to learn the defensive strokes as it creates the opportunity for an attacking stroke.

When there are two attackers in a table tennis game, in many situations, one of them is bound to go for the defensive mode to continue the rally.

You can’t opt for the attacking strokes right from the beginning. Like, when you are returning a low heavy backspin short serve, you have no choice rather go for a defensive push shot. Also, the proper execution of a defensive stroke creates the opportunity for a killer attacking shot.

In general, the defensive table tennis strokes are of four types.

Push

Push is a soft defensive stroke and great for returning a serve. If you face a high backspin short serve, the push is the easiest option to return the ball.

Kinds of strokes in table tennis

In forehand push, your playing hand should be next to you with your elbow close to your body. As the ball approaches you, move your right foot and your body towards the ball. Raise your lower arm and then brings it down in a quicker motion to brush under the ball.

Kinds of strokes in table tennis

To play backhand push, stand close to the table and hold your racket in front of your body. The forearm of your playing hand moves in a horizontal plane from the elbow. Push the racket as a forwarding motion to strike underneath the ball on the top of the bounce.

To be more effective, increase the racket speed for more backspin and keep the ball as low as possible over the net.

Block

Block is all about the timing of your stroke. It is a shorter version of the counter-hit.

The block shot is used when you don’t have time to go for a bigger swing of your racket. Rather, it is easy to use the opponent’s speed and spin.

Stand close to the table and take a square-on stance. Forward your bat and strike the ball just after the bounce at the net height level.

To block a coming topspin ball, you should close the angle of your racket. If you face a more topspin ball, the angle of the racket will be more closed and if you face a less topspin ball, the angle of your racket will be less closed.

Chop

Kinds of strokes in table tennis

It’s a defensive table tennis stroke that involves heavy backspin. Chop shot is very effective when are away from the table to continue the rally.

For chop, you have to stand side on the table and start from the height of your head. The racket will come in a downward motion to brush underneath the ball and ends at your knee height.

If you face a fast topspin ball, your bat will move downward, whereas, for a slow topspin ball, the bat movement will be downward as well as forward.

If you are a defensive player, a chop shot is a good weapon in your armory to counter the topspin of the attacker.

Lob

The lob is one of the defensive strokes in table tennis that allows you to lift the ball away from the table. You can lob the ball with a slight close angle to impart topspin to the ball to move your opponent back from the table.

You can start your bat from your knee height and follows up to above the head height.

To be effective, you should lob the ball near the end of the table which will push your opponent further back. Otherwise, if you lob short, he will smash the ball which would be hard to return.

Final Thought

As I have earlier said, you need tons of practice to gain the control to execute these strokes at your will.

There are several ways to practice like you can practice with your partner, with the help of a robot or a multi-ball season can be great for you.

If you are interested in videos, check PingSkills for excellent table tennis coaching tutorials that will help you improve your game.

And finally, listen to every word your coach is saying. If you can follow him with passion and determination, nothing can stop you from becoming a great player.

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi