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Ma Long “active backhand block” technique

In the modern table tennis, the passive block technique is no longer exist. The player is asked to add more power in the stroke, for both forehand block or backhand block technique. That’s why today, we will learn the “active backhand block” technique of Ma Long. Blocking is very underrated skills that not many players focus on. But it the big mistake (especially for young players). Blocking is the very important techniques to gain control and the pace in table tennis. Pace variation is fundamental in table tennis tactics.

You can learn the backhand topspin of Ma Long.

Backhand Block Technique

The principle of the block technique is “control the direction of the ball”. To do that, you need firstly to absorb the power of the incoming ball.

Chinese coach: Use your belly to absorb the power in the block technique
Chinese coach: Use your belly to absorb the power in the block technique

The Chinese coach normally says “Bend your body, use the abdomen to absorb the power”.

Chinese coach often says:

“Use the abdomen to adsorb the opponent power”

Here are the 3 steps to perform the backhand block technique correctly in table tennis:

  • Fold your abdomen. Use it to absorb the power of the incoming ball. This is the only way to block the powerful ball from the opponent. Some amateur players are too tense. They can block the ball consistently. Relax is the key to control.
  • Always contact the ball in front of your body. If you block the ball at the side, you can’t use the abdomen to absorb the power. Backhand block in front of the body also helps you easily to drive, to block in a good direction.
  • When you can control and absorb the powerful shots, you can change the direction of the ball. One of the best drills to improve your backhand block (or forehand block technique) is: Let your partner attack (forehand loop) to your left side. You stay there, block and control the ball. Block one ball to their wide forehand side. Block the next ball to the middle. And block the ball to the wide forehand side. Repeat it: Forehand, Middle, Forehand. Your partner will practice the footwork and the forehand topspin technique. You learn the blocking technique.

Backhand Block or Forehand Block

In general, Chinese coach doesn’t recommend learning the forehand block. Why?

Because if the ball comes to your forehand side, why you block it? Just attack! Powerful topspin attack! Don’t just block the ball on the forehand side.

On the backhand side, if you don’t have enough power or enough time to prepare for the backhand topspin, you can just block the ball. It’s better for you to learn the block technique on your backhand side.

Note: Backhand block technique is better than forehand block.

Ma Long has a very consistent but powerful backhand block shots
Ma Long has a very consistent but powerful backhand block shots

Some tips to improve the consistency of the block

Some new players have the problem with the blocking skills. They can’t block consistently. To improve the consistency, you need to focus on your stance and your timing.


  • Stand close to the table.
  • racket facing the opponent.
  • racket higher than the elbow.
  • Bend your body and weight leaning forward.
table tennis techniques backhand block and drive of Ma Long

Watch this video.


Blocking technique timing

  • early timing, before ‘peak’ (the highest bouncing position (Position 3)). You should contact the ball at the position 2 to 2.5.
  • Close your racket, the angle varying depending on the opponent’s spin.
  • some new players just block the ball too late (especially with the forehand block). So if they block too hard the ball will go outside of the table. But if they block too soft, the ball will go to the net. The best way to correct this fault is: block sooner.

You should read more about the backhand techniques.

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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