Jim Yang is our site founder. As a pro ping pong player in the past, he's also our main expert consultant. In his spare time, Jim teaches kids table tennis, goes hiking, and read more
Last updated: July 03, 2023
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When playing ping pong, it is instinctive to opt for forehand techniques as they are relatively easier and rely more on arm strength. However, if you wish to truly progress and stand out as a skillful player, you need to balance your backhand. Forehand shots are fancy and fast, but a master of backhand, too, could say the same. However, many players tend to avoid ping pong backhand because it is seemingly difficult to master. Learning and perfecting this dreaded technique may be the key to unlocking your full potential.
It will not be an easy journey because the backhand comes in several variations too. You need to commit time to learn the drive, block, and loop. However difficult it may sound, remember that we are here for you. As you read on, you will get an in-depth understanding of how to master backhand techniques. We will show you how to play and what you should always watch out for when practicing and playing.
What is a backhand drive?
From the name, you should know that the backhand drive is an offensive shot. This should be your run-to technique if you want to put just enough pressure on your opponent without looping. Since it is an attacking topspin shot, you need to be relatively close to the table to execute it effectively.
A major advantage of the backhand drive is that your opponent cannot return with a forehand loop, at least not easily.
How to play it?
We will divide this section into three; stance, striking, and completion.
Backhand Drive Stance
Your feet need to be wider than your shoulder width. It shouldn’t be overly wide; slightly is enough.
Your feet must point where you are hitting the ball.
You should lean a bit forward.
Both arms should be in front with about 90 degrees bend on the elbows
Your weight should be evenly distributed on the toes or balls of both feet. Don’t make the mistake of resting your weight on your heels.
Backhand Drive Striking
Your bat should already be backward, around your mid-belly.
Your wrist must be straight with a small angle on your bat.
With the backhand rubber facing the direction where the ball is coming from, move your arm towards that direction.
You must meet the ball at the top of its bounce and push it up to create that slight topspin.
All through the strike, only your elbow and forearm should do the movement with a small gap separating your body from your elbow.
Your striking should end around that shoulder to chin level
Watch and ensure that your arms swing doesn’t over-extend.
Promptly get back to the ready position if your opponent returns the shot.
What to watch out for?
While learning, there are some subconscious things you should always look for so that you don’t develop a bad habit. Here are the most important ones:
You must hit the ball at the top of the bounce: Players commonly hit the ball earlier or later than they should. The perfect position to hit the ball is at the peak of the bounce. While you may make a valid shot when you hit it early or late, it significantly lowers the speed and reduces effectiveness.
Your wrist should do little to no movement: Understandably, you may need a bit of wrist movement in the hit, but it should not be too much. Most movement should come from your elbows and forearms; otherwise, you get reduced power and misdirection.
Always face where the ball is coming from: Being a backhand doesn’t mean you should turn your body at a compromising angle. Your feet and body should face the table; otherwise, you reduce the tendency to succeed.
The backhand drive is a full stroke: You shouldn’t hit the ball and return your body. The idea is to drive the ball fully so that you can produce the maximum force possible.
What is a backhand block?
From the name, you should know that the backhand block is a defensive move. If the opponent’s attack catches you off-guard, this block should be your run-to technique. If you master it, you will find that it is faster than even the drive and loop.
The backhand block is flexible, and you could afford to make some variations, especially when the ball catches you off-guard. Your execution of this technique depends on the attack of your opponent.
It works for spins and even power shots and even against robots. You are probably eager to know it, so let’s get to it!
How to play it?
Let’s break it down into the stance, striking, and completion
Your feet need to be slightly wider than your shoulder width.
You should point your feet and body towards the direction you want the ball to head.
Your weight should be evenly distributed to your feet and on your toes or balls. Avoid resting your weight on your heels.
You should bend both knees, and your elbow bend should be around 90 degrees.
The bat should be around your mid-belly level.
You should allow flexibility in your bat angle. Adjust it relatively to the spin of your opponent’s shot.
You need to strike the ball relatively early; target immediately after it bounces off the table.
Add a gentle push when the ball hits your bat.
All major movements should be only from your forearm and elbow and not your wrists.
For the finish, your bat should not be above your shoulder level. The bat should stop around the chin to shoulder level.
Make sure your bat is pointing in the direction you want it to go.
Promptly return to a ready position to anticipate your opponent’s next shot.
What to watch out for?
Learning on paper is entirely different from applying it in reality. You are susceptible to mistakes, and you need to correct them early in your play. Since the backhand block is quite flexible, very few things could go wrong, and you will make minimal errors. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
Always tuck your elbows at the right angle: A common mistake beginners make with the backhand block is keeping their elbows too far from their body. You should tuck your elbows properly around your sides rather than push them forward. Raising your elbow gives you very minimal control over the balls’ direction. You could also get tennis elbow
Trusted SourceTennis elbow: Symptoms, causes, and treatmentTennis elbow is a painful condition that usually comes from repetitive use of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and the elbow joint.
from this bad habit.
Hit from the middle of your body: The positioning of the bat should start from your mid-belly to waist section. So, when you hit the ball, it comes out straight and aligned with your body. It may seem a bit difficult to maintain proper positioning when you are starting. However, if you work on your footwork, you will find it relatively easier.
What is a backhand loop?
A backhand loop is a more advanced attacking technique, which may prove difficult for new players. If you do not know any backhand technique, this is not a good starting point. The good part is that you have a high chance of ending the points with this shot. However, you also have a lot of work to put in with such great power. Each time you execute the backhand loop, it has to be flawless. It gives only a tiny room for mistakes; you can’t afford to do such in a competitive game; otherwise, you hit the net.
Before you get into it, you should also know that it takes patience to set yourself up for this technique. You can’t play trying to hit it on your first shot after serving. You need to observe your opponent’s game before putting yourself in a perfect position for the stroke.
You also need a good bat to execute it flawlessly. Killerspin JET offers one of the best, perfect balance between control and functionality.
Backhand Loop Stance
Like any other backhand technique, your feet should be slightly wider than your shoulder width.
Your feet and body must face the direction in which you will hit the ball.
Your weight should be between your feet and resting on the toes or balls. Resting your weight on your heels in this technique is a big mistake.
Keep your knees bent with your elbows around a 90-degree angle.
The bat position should be around your mid-belly to waist level but subject to change depending on the shot you are receiving.
Backhand Loop Striking
First, you need to adjust your bat position to match the incoming shot or spin.
You aim to hit the ball at the peak of its bounce.
This technique is topspin intensive, so you should glide over the ball in an upward motion.
Your movement should be even between your wrist, forearm, and elbow this time.
Movement should start from the forearm and elbow; as you hit the ball, you should flick your wrist to generate the spin.
Backhand Loop Completion
You should end with the bat just about your head level.
Your stroke would be directly in your front, where the ball should travel.
Promptly return to a ready position as soon as possible.
What to watch out for?
This technique has low room for errors, so you need to watch out for certain errors; else you will get it wrong:
Looping demands bent knees: While you may get away with keeping straight knees in some other techniques, it is impossible to looping. When you don’t bend them enough, it significantly impacts the effectiveness of your shot. So don’t forget to bend your knees and go low!
Your wrist has work to do: Unlike other techniques, you need proper wrist action to generate the perfect backhand loop. The wrist movement helps you to get the perfect topspin on your hit.
Too much force won’t help: It may be quite tempting to go with a hard force, but it doesn’t work that way. Too much force would generate an overly long-stroke, making it telegraph for your opponent. Remember that the stroke finishes at the head level; anything more is not right.
You know the technique to apply, but you could use these extra tips to get the best results.
Use a good bat: It may sound quite basic, but many players don’t heed this simple guideline. You need a bat with good grip, control, and lightweight, especially if you play competitively, and good backhand rubber. STIGA produces some of the best ones out there, and it is a good example to others.
Practice, practice, practice: Reading about a technique and picturing it in your head doesn’t mean you have it mastered. You need to put in a lot of work with consistent practice. You can only get better when you practice consistently.
A good stroke starts from your stance: We have a good reason to include the stance for each technique. Any technique execution starts from a good stance, so master your stance before the hit. Having the right footwear would give you a firmer stance.
Face the right direction: Most backhand techniques demand that you face the ball. This little piece of information is enough to set you apart from those doing it wrong.
Without a doubt, table tennis is a fun and adventurous sport that will always demand that you learn more. As you advance competitively, you realize that your simple forehand skills may not be sufficient.
Backhand techniques offer a significant edge over their other counterparts. Under ping pong backhand, we have several other types and variations. If you dedicate your time to it and, take it seriously, practice efficiently, you will love the craft because of its effectiveness.
We carefully outlined all that you will need to execute each variation. The stance, striking, and completion go hand in hand, so you should not learn anyone in isolation from the other. You have all you need to excel in a competitive place; it is left for you to make good use of it.
Also, take note of what to watch out for in each move; developing bad habits could lead to complications
Trusted SourceAnalysing Of the Types of Injuries Observed In Table Tennis
Players According To the Some Variables Table tennis is a complex sport, in which velocity, reflexes, instantaneous decision and the management of the effects and the technique are important. The wrist, elbow, shoulder, the trunk rotation and displacement of the lower limbs in constant knees flexion take part actively during the practice of the sport.
Tennis elbow: Symptoms, causes, and treatment
Tennis elbow is a painful condition that usually comes from repetitive use of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and the elbow joint.
Analysing Of the Types of Injuries Observed In Table Tennis
Players According To the Some Variables
Table tennis is a complex sport, in which velocity, reflexes, instantaneous decision and the management of the effects and the technique are important. The wrist, elbow, shoulder, the trunk rotation and displacement of the lower limbs in constant knees flexion take part actively during the practice of the sport.