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Essential Strokes Used In Table Tennis

Jan 22, 2008
There are a few strokes which need to be mastered so that you can play table tennis like an expert. Listed below are several which you would do well to practice until you have mastered them.


The first stroke you must learn for defense is the block shot, which is executed by holding your racket at a right angle to the table and meeting the ball just after it has landed on your side of the net. This shot is quite easy to master once you have learned to grip the racket properly and time the ball well enough so that you hit it more or less in the center of the racket face.

Although expert players use a great deal of spin on almost every shot, and perform drives and chops with ease, you will want to learn the block shot first because it is the easiest and simplest way of returning the ball.

If it were not possible for the opponent to put a great deal of spin on a light ball, we probably would use this shot exclusively. However, it is extremely difficult to adjust the angle of the racket face rapidly enough to return shots made with sidespin, under spin, or over spin.


The block shot is usually taken on the backhand, with the right foot in advance of the left and the right side of the body turned slightly toward the net. Left-handed players, of course, reverse these directions. Bend your arm at the elbow and keep your wrist firm. Stand close to the table, keep the blade of the racket horizontal and block the ball with a quick motion just after it has bounced on the table. (Note: In table tennis it is against the rules to volley, that is, to hit the ball before it has bounced.)


To gain more time and sureness in returning hard shots, players learn to retreat behind the table and use a chopping motion to keep the ball in play. A forehand or a backhand chop is made by starting the racket up high, around your shoulder, and chopping forward and down in back of the ball at a forty-five-degree angle. Not only does this stroke return the ball, but it keeps the return low and applies enough backspin to force your opponent to hit his return into the net, unless he adjusts his racket to allow for your spin.


Just as the chop is the weapon of defense in table tennis, so the fore-hand and backhand drives are the attacking weapons. To make a drive, turn slightly in either direction; tilt your racket face forward; bring your racket to the ball, then up and slightly over it with a pronounced brushing motion, finishing out with the racket well above your head. This vigorous motion gives the ball the topspin which makes it drop down on the other side of the net.

The prime purpose of the drive, as an attacking stroke, is to win the point by speed or by placement. It is often necessary to take a chance on missing the ball when you are trying to play offensively. Obviously, if you take too many foolish chances you will end up by making too many errors and by losing the game.


Service in table tennis must be made by bouncing the ball on your own side of the table first. There are many restrictions placed on service, which generally prevent the serve from being an offensive weapon. Any spin imparted to the serve must be imparted by the racket and not by hand. Take care to vary the length and speed of your serves so your opponent will not be able to make aggressive returns.

There is of course more you can learn about the sport of table tennis, but once you have learnt these shots, you will be off to a great start!
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