Chop Block in Table Tennis: How and When to Use the Technique

We'll discuss forehand and backhand chop blocks, how to master the technique, and when to use it to get the most of it.
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Last updatedLast updated: July 12, 2023
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Modern table tennis players love to attack with topspin shots to every return of the ball, which is a one-way pattern of play. Chop block in table tennis breaks the continuous rhythm and turns the game around quickly. However, chop blocks are tough to play. It’s a difficult skill that needs intense practice. So, you must have mastered it during your training sessions before trying it out in a competitive match.

Chop block in table tennis is a high-risk stroke, but it has a higher gain. It gives you your desired result faster than expected. It’s rarely used in table tennis, so your opponent will never see it coming.

You’ll probably be asking the question: what is chop block table tennis? In this article, we will discuss what it is, how to chop block table tennis, and so much more.

What is Chop Block in Table Tennis?

What is Chop Block in Table Tennis

Judging from the name, it’s a block stroke, but with the addition of a chop stroke.

Chop block in table tennis is a form of return stroke in which you make a slight downward contact with the ball, thereby creating a backspin. The backspin reduces the speed of the ball, thereby enhancing your chances of winning the point.  The inclusion of a sidespin to your chop block makes your opponent find it very hard to return. The ball will have a fair amount of swerving, which makes it difficult to give a returning shot.

The chop block is tough to execute, but it’s a clever move that will disrupt your opponent’s flow. When done properly, your opponent will find it difficult to play a return shot. This is because you will be using your opponent’s speed and spin, but now, you will create a backspin and sidespin.

This skill is used to upset your opponent’s timing. Most frequently, you’ll be up against a hungry opponent who wants to get away from the table to fire a fast, attacking ball. While blocking and counter-looping are the logical reactions to this type of play, the chop block introduces an entirely new scenario for your opponent to contend with.

However, before you can start to play this skill, you must have gotten yourself acquainted with other basic techniques Trusted Source Table Tennis playing guide covering the strokes and drills Table tennis training guide, drills with graphics, and fitness. What you need to know to win in table tennis. as the chop block skill is not for beginners.

How to Perform It?

The chop block is performed close to the table, with a short arm action. To play this stroke, tilt your paddle as if you were holding an ax. Brush at the underbelly of the ball at the net height level using a short and fast arm action when the ball bounces on your side of the table. This allows you to impart both backspin and sidespin. The key to a successful chop block is to be timely – make contact with the ball as soon as possible.

This technique produces a sluggish spiny return over the net that is difficult to predict. Well, your opponent may try to counter probably with a lob, but the ball’s slowness will prevent him from doing so. In fact, to his surprise, the ball may even land twice on his side of the table. However, this skill shouldn’t be used frequently; instead, use it as a surprise element to kill the game.

The chop block can be performed using both the forehand and backhand. But the backhand chop block is most popular because it is easier to produce and it gives you better control over your stroke, especially when you are blocking.

There are three major ways of performing the chop block skill – one on the forehand, and two other ways on the backhand. To produce the best chop block with any of these patterns, you’ll need to use one of the best ping pong paddles. These paddles help in actualizing every bit of your stroke.

Forehand Chop Block

Knowing the tomahawk serve will help you in performing the forehand chop block. It’s performed the same way as the tomahawk serve.

Backhand Chop Block #1

The first backhand chop block is the direct opposite of the forehand chop block. It’s similar to a backhand tomahawk serve.

Backhand Chop Block #2

For the second backhand chop block, you will move the paddle in the opposite direction. It’s similar to a backhand fade, except that it goes under the ball.

You can learn how to perform the technique from the video below.

When Can You Use This Technique?

This technique is best used whenever you want to disrupt the rhythm of your opponent. Presently, this is the best skill to learn in table tennis as attacking styles have never been more common – almost every player loves to attack. It’s a deadly tool that a player should have in his arsenal, especially one who likes to stay close to the table.

One of the best times to use this technique is when you want to respond to a slow rollover loop off of backspin.

The chop block is very much effective against incoming loops. It makes the ball travel in an uneven pattern off the paddle. The ball will kick upward off the paddle, resulting in a high return, but it will be short, and can even land twice on the opponent’s side of the table.

When players who love attacking see this kind of ball, their next move will be to attack. Of course, their instinct is right – always attack a high ball. But that’s not the case with a chop block. The ball will land earlier than expected if the chop block has a lot of backspin. Most attacking players will still go through with their instinct, leading to a loop or smash that ends up in the net.

Other times when you can use the chop block in table tennis are when you are out of position or when your opponent is beginning to move away from the table. To get the best result from this skill, it’s advisable you have one of the best table tennis rubber attached to your blade.

Tips on Mastering the Technique

To master this technique, your setup has to be spot-on. The setup for the chop block skill is similar to a standard block, with the exception that your paddle will be higher and more upright. Also, you should remain close to the table, ready to play.

When the opportunity to play a chop block arises, read the incoming spin on the ball, and tilt your paddle accordingly to counter the incoming topspin. Then brush diagonally downward to add both backspin and sidespin. When executing the stroke, make sure your grip is flexible.

The ball might want to kick upwards from the paddle, but you’ll have to battle it and make sure that it doesn’t. When executing the technique, it doesn’t matter if the ball is high. Once it’s relatively short and disrupts the rhythm of your opponent, he will not be able to play an attacking stroke.

One other thing you need to master this technique is to use a standard paddle. According to most reviews from table tennis experts, the STIGA Supreme Performance-Level Table Tennis Racket and the Killerspin Impact D9 PowerGrip are the most suitable.

The chop block technique will likely feel odd initially, but with consistent practice, you’ll become more comfortable with it and benefit from it.

Top Players Who Use This Technique

Chop blocks are not used by beginners. They are most often executed by professionals. Intermediate players who want to play them must make sure that they use one of the best ping pong paddles for intermediate players.

Here are a few of the top players who are masters of this technique.

1. Koki Niwa

The list of top players cannot be compiled without including Koki Niwa, a Japanese player. He’s known as the “Gods of Chop Blocks.” With unrivaled wizardry, he executes every variant of the shot. He uses it numerous times in a match both with the forehand and backhand sides.

Even though all players are aware of his expertise in this area, they are unable to counter it because of the havoc spin that he creates. You can see for yourself.

2. Ma Lin

Ma Lin Trusted Source Lin MA | Find out more about Lin MA, see all their Olympics results and medals plus search for more of your favourite Sport Heroes in our athlete database , a retired Chinese national team player is another person worth mentioning. He was recognized for his chop blocking skill. Ma Lin’s version of the shot was unique in that he used the normal penhold grip to execute it, which means he used his forehand rubber on his backhand side to perform it. This made the already challenging shot tougher to perform.

Final Thoughts

Table tennis in this modern time is filled with players who love to play attacking styles, which has made most of them one-dimensional players. They lack dynamism and their game lacks variety. However, with a chop block skill, this can be changed.

Chop block table tennis brings more variety and spice to the game. The primary purpose of this skill is to interrupt the rhythm of players. The chop block generates hard backspin and sidespin to the ball, making it difficult for your opponent to counter.

Learning how to play this skill can be difficult and tiring, but with time, you will begin to reap the reward.


Table Tennis playing guide covering the strokes and drills
Table tennis training guide, drills with graphics, and fitness. What you need to know to win in table tennis.
Lin MA |
Find out more about Lin MA, see all their Olympics results and medals plus search for more of your favourite Sport Heroes in our athlete database
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