February 15, 2021 - Pushing Short: When to Learn?

At the higher levels, pushing short is an important to stop an opponent from looping. (A short push is a push that, given the chance, would bounce twice on an opponent's side of the table.) It is especially useful when returning short serves to stop the server's attack. (You should learn all three returns to a short serve: short push, long push, flip.) However, until a player reaches a 2000 level or so, it is often a low-percentage shot, since it is so easy to make a mistake and pop the ball up or go into the net. But here's the problem: if you wait until you are approaching a 2000 level before developing the shot, you will be years behind your competition in developing your short push. So, if you have aspirations to reach 2000 and beyond, start developing your short push now, even if it means losing a few practice matches. (How to push short: Take the ball quick off the bounce, and with a light touch and a grazing motion both to create backspin and so the ball doesn't bounce off the paddle fast, push it as low as possible over the net. Open the racket more against heavy backspin, close it and chop down more against light backspin or no-spin, or even light topspins.)