Table Tennis Tips and Techniques
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;
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!
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…
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 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.