Master the Four Basic Table Tennis Skills

Learn how to master four basic table tennis skills: forehand hit, backhand shot, right-wing movement and serve.

Master the Four Basic Table Tennis Skills

Table tennis is a sport that requires a combination of physical and mental skills. Even though it may seem complex, the game is based on four basic skills that even a beginner can learn and practice to improve their game. These four basic strokes are the forehand hit, the backhand hit, the right-wing movement, and the serve. The forehand hit is perhaps the easiest of all the basic shots out there and requires very little practice to master.

Your body posture is similar to that used when traveling backwards. You should bring the bat backwards and slightly upwards, toward your chest, to anticipate the shot. Instead of “hitting” the ball, try brushing it gently with the rubber of the racket. Try to cut the ball so that it stays relatively at the same level as before.

Most players end up picking up the ball, giving the opponent a chance to crush it. The backhand shot is the mirror of the forehand shot, intended to return the attacking shots and throwing the ball to the opponent's back line. To throw a backhand hit, stand with your torso in the way of the ball (instead of reaching out with your arm) and keep your posture tilted toward the table with your free arm pointing toward the ball. The backhand hit returns the short balls and prevents your opponent from returning the attack. As with the backhand hit, the body should be placed in line with the ball, instead of stretching the hand to the side with the arm. The right-wing movement is a technique used to return a serve or attack from an opponent.

Pointing down, towards the table or forward, towards the net, produces several degrees of rotation, so it is a controlled blow. Aim for a ball that bounces and lands on your side of the table, passes over a net and bounces on your opponent's side. An easy way to find out if your bat is dead is to hold a table tennis ball and rub it on the rubber surface. If you want to see all that visually, here's a video of coach Tao Li, a professional Chinese table tennis player and coach, who teaches the basics of this movement to a young student. The serve is also an important basic skill and it's crucial since it's when you have full control of the ball and game. This technique is usually one of the first techniques that all new table tennis players want to learn in order to return service safely.

The following video shows table tennis coach Tom Lodziak, based in Cambridge, explaining this shot in detail. These four basic strokes are necessary to dominate attack and defense from right and back. There's also a wide selection of other free and premium online table tennis courses for you to explore. It's packed with my best technical training items and will provide you with the sequence and progress you need to fully develop all these important technical skills in this game.