In the modern table tennis, the flick (or flip) techniques are crucial. You can’t survive in this era without the forehand flick and the backhand flick. But which one is more important to learn, to master first? Let’s analyze the new trends in table tennis. Backhand flick and forehand flick are the 2 attacking strokes in table tennis. With the backhand topspin, the backhand flick is the 2 most important techniques in the 9 modern backhand skills.
Why is flicking technique so important?
In the year of 2000s, the backhand flick is a new technique. It allows a player to aggressively return the short serve (sidespin and topspin serve). A backhand push is not effective to deal with the spinny short serve. That’s why the backhand flick is becoming the new trend for the backhand side. Nowadays, the backhand flick is a must-have technique for every professional table tennis players.
Due to the new trend in table tennis (bigger ball), it’s easier now to attack the short ball. Since then, it’s the first time in table tennis history, that the servers (who serve first) are under pressure. The receivers are ready to attack your service. If your serve is not good, then you lose the serving advantage. So learn to deal with that by adding the sidespin to your serve, and varying the placement of your serve.
Nowadays, every top player uses backhand flick to deal with a short ball. They want to attack first. And they move around the table to use the backhand flick on all the positions, even at the forehand side.
Backhand flick vs Forehand flick
I’ve explained the basic backhand flick techniques, and the tips to perform the forehand flick. Many players prefer using the backhand flick. Because it’s more natural to perform this type of stroke on the backhand side.
Here is some resume of the 2 techniques:
This stroke is used to attack the short ball. It uses only the wrist and the forearm in the stroke mechanism.
In the beginning, you use the same gesture as for the short push. But suddenly, you close the racket and brush the ball. By using the acceleration of your wrist, you can create a lot of speed and spin to the ball.
Footwork: For the ball wide on your backhand, you should step forward with your left foot.
For the ball in the middle or at the forehand side, move your right foot under the table. And then use the footwork pattern to quickly recover to the initial position.
Hitting angle: Hit horizontal for the nospin, sidespin or topspin ball. Hit upward (bushing) for the heavy underspin serve.
Contact position: The ball is contacted at the top of the bounce (position 2.5 to 3).
The forehand flick is harder to learn. You can’t turn around your wrist. So you should use more of your forearm. The right leg moves under the table. The elbow is very low (under the net height). Relax before the flip. Very important!
The key point: Relax, Explode and Relax. The key to making a powerful flip.
Hitting angle: Open the racket more for the underspin ball. Elbow is close to the pivot point. The contact is in position 3. Hit forward and upward and follow through.
Footwork: Recover by moving your right legs back. Ready to attack the next ball.
Difference between the backhand flick and the forehand flick
The backhand flick uses a lot of wrists. While the forehand flick, it’s not easy to use the wrist. That’s why the forehand flick is much harder than the backhand flick.
However, should you learn only the backhand flick and forget the forehand flick? As many of you see today, top players just move around the table and use the backhand flick at the forehand side.
Backhand flick problem
The backhand flick is great to give advantages while dealing with the short spinny serve.
But it’s not great versus left-handers in table tennis. Because for the left-handers they serve from the opposite side. And left-hander player will serve to your wide forehand side. And then they can use a fast and long serve down the line. It’s very hard for you to move to the wide forehand side to flick and then lost the advantage in your next rally.
This is the serve placement of Ma Long to deal with Tomokazu strong backhand flick. This tactic force Tomokazu to move to the wide angle to flick, and expose to his main weakness. Ma Long attacks the next ball, or control the placement to his deep elbow. If Tomokazu can use the forehand flick then he has a higher chance to deal with Ma Long’s 3rd ball attack.
I’ve explained about the “potential situation” in table tennis. You should learn this to understand the purpose of the table tennis serves. So to deal with this type of tactics, it’s better for you to use the forehand flick.
You can watch the video Tomokazu Harimoto vs Jan (left-hand player). And you will understand these difficulties I’ve explained above.
And here you can learn from Ma Long’s service placement. He changed the serve placement depending on the opponent’s style and match situation.
You can see that both Tomokazu Harimoto and Fan Zhendong have a strong backhand flick (initial attack).
However, Fan Zhendong has a very good forehand flick too. Ma Long needs to variate his serve placements more to deal with Fan Zhendong: 60% on the backhand side, and 30% on the forehand side.
Tomokazu rarely uses the forehand flick, but need to turn around to use the backhand flick. Or he loves using the forehand long push and then counters attack the next ball. Ma Long serves almost 0% to his backhand side, but 88% and then 100% to Tomokazu’s forehand.
Should I learn the forehand flick
My answer is yes. The backhand flick is great. Easier to learn and master than the forehand flick. But it has some disadvantages. You need to have great footwork to move around. In some special tactic situation, over-use the backhand flick can cost you a match.
A good coach can find this problem. And you will lose more point if you just move around to use your backhand flick.
So practice your forehand flick. It gives you more balance. And also more tool, more weapon in your pocket to use in some situations.