04 basic table tennis techniques that you should learn

There are four basic techniques that table tennis players must learn and practice to improve their level: a good serve, a good return of serve, a good backhand, and a good forehand.

Four basic table tennis techniques

Table tennis is a very difficult sport that demands both mental and physical skills to master. Even the most advanced level matches are founded on four basic skills that even a beginner can learn and practice. By practicing the fundamentals of table tennis, you may enhance your performance and have more fun. Here are some basic table tennis techniques explained by coach EmRatThich.

No matter how experienced a player is, these essential techniques are always worth training and drilling every day. The first step to becoming a champion is learning the basics. A good understanding of the four basic table tennis strokes is required.

Ma Long- master of fundamental techniques in table tennis
Ma Long- master of fundamental techniques in table tennis

01 Forehand technique

Forehand drive

The forehand drive is the simplest table tennis stroke. Strokes that land close to the opposing baseline or sideline will be returned aggressively. To add force to a forehand drive, rotate the hip, borrow the power from the ground by using the legs while keeping your arm straight.

Tips: Always put your elbow close to the body during the forehand drive.

Wait for the ball to touch your side of the table, move your body forward. Generate spin by hitting the ball at the apex of its bounce. After hitting the ball, rest with your paddle pointing upward. See this video for Ma Long’s wonderful technique example of the forehand drive.

rotate the hip, borrow the power from the ground for the forehand drive
rotate the hip, borrow the power from the ground for the forehand drive
use the body rotation to generate the power
use the body rotation to generate the power

Forehand push

The forehand push is also used to return short balls. This technique is the first technique that every new table tennis players want to learn to safely return the serve. However, it’s not good to defend against the opponent’s topspin attacks. Like the forehand drive, spin your upper body to enhance the paddle motion. For a backhand drive, you execute a smaller backswing, turning your wrist forward, and maintain your paddle open to brush under the ball. Read this article to learn the forehand push.

open the racket angle for the forehand push technique
open the racket angle for the forehand push technique

 

Tips: Hold the wrist, don’t use the wrist in the forehand push to increase the consistency.

02 Backhand techniques:

Backhand drive

The backhand drive is designed to return offensive shots and land at the opponent’s baseline. To deliver a backhand drive, keep your stance tilted toward the table and your free arm directed toward the ball.

Tips: Bend your wrist during the backhand drive.

make a triangle with the ball for the backhand drive technique
make a triangle with the ball for the backhand drive technique
backhand drive tips - close your racket and guide the ball by using your waist
backhand drive tips – close your racket and guide the ball by using your waist

Your waist should bend forward and raise upward as your paddle arm moves ahead and upward, hitting the ball at the top of its bounce. Watch this video to see the backhand drive in action.

Backhand push

The backhand push returns short balls and limits the offensive returns from the opponent. Like the backhand drive, your body should be parallel to the ball rather than reaching out to the side.

Tips: Contact the ball near the table’s surface to push. This will make a good and low return.

Lean forward and let the paddle quickly brush under the ball at its peak. Aiming for the table or the net adds spin, therefore this is a controlled stroke.

contact the ball as low as possible for the backhand push
contact the ball as low as possible for the backhand push

03 Serving

The serve is the only time you have complete control of the ball. Some table tennis services provide more benefits than others, but the basics stay the same.

How to have a good serve in table tennis?

Place the ball on the open palm of your free hand.

Throw the ball vertically 6 inches above your hand.

Aim for a bouncing ball that lands on your side of the table goes over a net, and bounces to your opponent’s side.

Tips: Use your hip’s rotation to add more spin into your serve.

contact the ball close to your body to improve the consistency of your serve
contact the ball close to your body to improve the consistency of your serve

But a good table tennis serve is much more than that. For additional information on the rules and forms of service, see our post on how to make a spinny serve in table tennis.

04 Return of serve

The serve return is as important as the serve in table tennis. If you have a bad return, then you will lose the point directly. Or you can give your opponent an easy point to attack. Chinese coaches focus a lot on how to return the serve. Read this article to learn how to return a serve short.

How to return the serve efficiently in table tennis?

The key point is that you need to read the spin on the serve. To do that, you should lower your standing position. Always put your eye on the ball. Don’t look at the opponent’s racket. Only focus on the ball because there is information about the spin and the speed of the serve.

Contact the ball early, your racket should be lower than the net
Contact the ball early, your racket should be lower than the net

Try to contact the ball as low as possible. The key point is to keep the return ball low. If it is too high, then it’s an easy point for your opponent.
There are 3 crucial timing moments to keep the ball low.

  • Moment 1: contact the ball very early, right after the second bounce.
  • Moment 2: contact the ball very late, when the ball jump behind the borderline of the table.
  • Moment 3: Hit the ball at the highest bounce is the best moment to attack the short ball on the table.

Conclusion

I’ve explained the full list of the top 10 basic skills in table tennis. Here is the list of 4 basic techniques that every beginner should learn.

It’s worth practicing each shot type alone. Try to improve and correct your technique not only enhances your game but also reduces strain and increases enjoyment. To learn these strokes faster, you should focus on the feeling. The feeling is the moment that you impact spins on the ball.

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