10 Fundamental Skills for Modern Table Tennis

10 Fundamental Skills for Modern Table Tennis

You are new to table tennis or you just want to come back and learn, from the beginning, the correct table tennis techniques. Table tennis techniques have changed a lot. However, people still using the old designed course, which is not adapted to the “new trends in table tennis”. Today, I will show you the new (re-designed) table tennis lessons for the beginner to learn the modern table tennis strokes. These are the 10 table tennis basics that every beginner should know.

What are the basic skills of table tennis?

If you are beginners, you should also know “how to choose the right equipment which fits your playing style”!

Some coach has proposed the accelerated table tennis course (only in 10 days) to learn the fundamentals of table tennis. However, to master the correct techniques, a player should do the repetition several times. The proper mechanism needs the “muscle memory”. That’s why in a short amount of time (10 days), you can not master correctly the basic skills. Focus on basic skills during your first 2 years of training.

In your first 2 years of your career, you should master these basic techniques.

Based on the Chinese coaching, there are 10 fundamental skills in table tennis. 

  1. Forehand drive technique
  2. Backhand topspin close to the table
  3. Forehand push and backhand push
  4. Forehand flick
  5. Backhand flick
  6. Backhand loop the underspin ball
  7. Forehand attack the semi-long ball
  8. Learn Forehand fast serve
  9. Forehand pendulum serve
  10. Backhand sidespin serve

1. Forehand Drive Technique

The first fundamental table tennis skill that you should learn is the feeling of the ball. Driving skills helps you quickly get this feeling. Unlike many basic table tennis lessons, who propose you to learn the “grip” or the “stance” first. You can start learning the forehand drive first. During these training drills, the coach and yourself can quickly modify the grip based on the “feeling” and the “timing”. I, myself, found this approach can help new players improve much faster.

You should know: Professional player change the grip during the rallies.

Learning the right grip is the best way to improve your skills. You will never improve with the wrong grip! Confirmed by the legend Liu Guoliang.

Furthermore, the player tends to change the grip for each type of stroke. By fixing a new player to learn a not-flexible grip, it’s not good for the further improvement later.

Forehand Drive Table Tennis
Forehand Drive Table Tennis. Explained by coach EmRatThich

But in short, there are some key notes if you want to do the forehand drive technique correctly:

  1. Remember to put your elbow close to your body. Some amateur puts the elbow too far, this will reduce the consistency of the shots.
  2. It’s the drive technique, not the forehand topspin technique. So focus on the direction of the ball, not the power, nor the spin.

2. Backhand topspin close to the table

Backhand topspin is the basic skill that every player should master. The biggest mistake of the beginner is “I will learn the forehand first, and then I let learning the backhand technique in the intermediate stage”. This is totally wrong! You should learn the backhand stroke mechanism as soon as possible. Because by learning backhand technique, you will understand how to use your wrist in table tennis. You also learn how to relax, the right timing of acceleration, and the correct grip.

Remember: A bad habit is very difficult to correct. Learn the table tennis basics slowly but correctly.

Having a good foundation is very important in the eye of the Chinese coach
Having a good foundation is very important in the eye of the Chinese coach

Chinese coach has changed the vision of this stroke. In this modern table tennis era, the bigger ball is used.

Bigger ball means that you have more “fraction of a second” before doing the stroke. So your backhand topspin should be a deadly weapon!

  1. Remember, focus on the speed of this shots.
  2. To increase the speed, the player should hit sooner, and faster.
  3. Learn from many top players like: Zhang Jike, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Tomokazu Harimoto, Hugo Calderano.

3. Forehand push and backhand push

After having a good foundation of feeling the ball and having a relaxed grip, you will start to learn the “timing”. Timing is when to hit the ball. The best exercise is to practice the forehand push and the backhand push.

This is the basic stroke! And this stroke is rarely used in modern table tennis nowadays.

You should learn to develop your push to be more “aggressive”!

Based on Chinese coaching, the more “aggressive push” means:

  • Heavy and long ball to the middle (elbow of the opponent)
  • Surprise push with high quality (speed and spin)
  • Fast push to the forehand side of the opponent, which catch them off. You can attack the next ball.
forehand push and backhand push technique
forehand push and backhand push technique

Pushing technique is the first technique that many amateur table tennis players focus first. Chinese coach has explained clearly what is the correct forehand push and backhand push technique.

4. Forehand flick

The flick (or flip) technique is previously considered as the “advanced skills in table tennis”. However, in this modern table tennis era, the Chinese coach has moved this skill to the fundamental skills. If you can not aggressively return the ball, you will quickly be dominated in this modern age of table tennis. “Aggressiveness” is the key.

table tennis forehand flick technique
forehand flick technique in table tennis

5. Backhand flick

The backhand flick is nowadays considered as the standard technique. Using backhand flick to return all the topspin or sidespin short serve. Backhand push is rarely used in the real match today.

Back in the history of table tennis, the backhand flick is invented by the European players.

At that moment, many coaches said that “this technique is weird”!

But then the table tennis techniques have evolved. This technique today is considered as the “standard technique” in table tennis, that every player should learn!

Did you know that? There are 2 types of backhand flick: Banana Flick, and Strawberry Flick.

backhand flick technique table tennis
backhand flick table tennis

6. Backhand loop the underspin ball

This technique seems to be the hardest one for the beginners. However, it’s not as hard as you think. The key to do the backhand loop is using the elbow and the lower part of your body. If you only use the arm to lift the ball, you will fail to topspin the heavy underspin ball. Focus on the use of the lower part, the legs to “lift up” and hit forward.

Chinese table tennis focuses a lot on the use of the lower part of your body. When you master all of the basic skills, you should quickly incorporate your body (hip, waist, legs, abdomen) into your stroke. Backhand loop the underspin ball is designed to learn this concept quickly.

backhand loop against underspin ball
backhand loop against underspin ball

7. Forehand attack the semi-long ball

Table tennis tactics, in fact, turn around the service and service-return. Best players use the semi-long ball a lot nowadays.

Why semi-long ball? Why do you need to learn how to do a semi-long serve effectively?

There are some reasons for this:

  • Because short balls are weak,
  • and the long ball is easily attacked.
  • A semi-long ball will let you attack right after your serve. That’s the reason why Chinese coach has introduced the forehand attack the semi-long ball into the basics training.

And to deal with the semi-long serve, you have two option:

  1. Step around and use your backhand flick las many professional players do. Do it if you have a good footwork.
  2. Learn to return with the aggressive forehand flick (or flip) technique.
Ma Long forehand technique
Ma Long forehand technique

8. Learn Forehand fast serve

Forehand fast serve is an indispensable tool to survive in this modern table tennis. Unlike several training courses which didn’t focus enough on the quality of a long and fast serve. Look at the new trends in table tennis: Tomokazu Harimoto and Miu Hirano’s playing style. They incorporate the fast serve efficiently in the new trending “Counter Attack Playing Style”.

Nowadays, many top players use “forehand fast serve”. Back to the history, the master of this type of serve is Jan-Ove Waldner (the Mozart of Table Tennis).

Basic table tennis rules doesn't allow you to use any part of the body to hide the serve
Basic table tennis rules don’t allow you to use any part of the body to hide the serve

And today, table tennis comes back to the “Speed and Power Era”. Fast serve gives so many advantages:

  1. Big surprise to the opponent
  2. Put opponent under pressure: To return it correctly, or to be attacked in the next ball
  3. Reduce the quality of the service return of the opponent. Less time means more concentration is needed to answer it correctly.
  4. And the most important reason is: Open immediately the “rallies and counter-rallies” (which is the mainstream of modern table tennis).
  5. You have the higher chance to attack first, and get the advantage in the next rally.

9. Forehand pendulum serve

Forehand pendulum serve is one of the best serves in table tennis. Easy to learn but difficult to master. Learning this service will let you add many spin variation. You should learn this serve as soon as possible. Learn to add sidespin and improve the deceptive spin to this serve.

pendulum serve table tennis
forehand pendulum serve table tennis

10. Backhand sidespin serve

And finally, the last fundamental skill is the backhand sidespin serve. It’s the lest important skill but sometimes it can change the outcome of the match. Watch how Ma Long comes back after losing 0-2 to Lee Sangsu. Ma Long used the backhand serve which has completely change the result of the match. Backhand sidespin serve gives you the control of the placement and reduce the pace of the game. Having several types of service always help you to deal with the critical situation. To become the better player, you should have several effective serves.

Learn the backhand serve will help you change the tactics during the match.

That’s is the most important basic skills that beginners should master. The best ways to Learn How to Play Table Tennis is practicing these 10 Basic Table Tennis Strokes, which are adapted to the modern table tennis.

So now, it’s up to you to practice more and master the basic level of table tennis.

Did you know that, there are 4 main footwork patterns in table tennis?

Chinese coaches focus a lot on footwork. Yes! That’s footwork that decides the quality of your shots, and also your next shots. That’s why Chinese kids always start playing table tennis by learning the basic footwork.

If you want to learn more about why Chinese players are so good at table tennis, read the “secret training method in China”.

Please share and rate this coaching tutorial. [ratings]

Related Post

13 thoughts on “10 Fundamental Skills for Modern Table Tennis”

  1. merci pour votre tuto. cela m a aidé bcp. jai gagné plus de 200 points avec vos vidéos (de 1300 à 1500)

  2. dear coach. Thank you for your article. I have introduced these basic table tennis techniques to my players in Japan. And they love it so much.

  3. Wow its really amazing.
    One question concerning footwork though…
    I see a lot of players including Ma Long give a quick jump after each shot. How do you do that and still have enough time for the next shot? I have watched the footwork videos and still cant grasp this.

  4. There are 4 types of footwork in table tennis. You should search for “table tennis footwork pingsunday” for this. The top players always move on their “toes” not their “heel”, so they should “quick jump” to gain the balance. This way, they can move faster. Regards, ERT

Leave a Comment

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!