January 2, 2012 - Pushing and Looping Deep Backspin

If you want to play table tennis at a high level, you really should learn to loop any deep backspin ball. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are few (such as choppers and some blockers). On the forehand side, where you have a big hitting zone, you should never really need to push against a long backspin. Think of this as a given - deep backspin to your forehand means you forehand loop. Don't even think about it, just do it.

On the backhand side, ideally you should also loop any deep backspin. However, there are times where you might get caught too close to the table against a quick, aggressive push, and since the body is more in the way on the backhand than on the forehand, you might have to push. Also, you can get away with pushing on the backhand more because you have an angle into the opponent's backhand, where most opponents aren't as good attacking. Of course, some have great forehands from the backhand side, and others have great backhand loops, so it all depends on the opponent.

Learning to loop these deep backspin is a technique issue, and you should work with a coach or watch the top players to learn how to do this. However, here's one important tip - if you want to be ready to loop against deep backspin, hold your racket relatively low. Many players hold their rackets too high and so are rushed trying to get them down to loop.

Since you are going to loop deep pushes every chance you can, should you learn to push against deep backspin? On the backhand side, yes, since most players do have to do this at least sometimes. On the forehand, probably not. You may learn to push with the forehand by pushing back and forth against deep balls, but that's just to develop the shot. At the higher levels, the forehand push is done almost always against a short backspin only. Against deep backspin, many top players literally never forehand push, and if asked to do so (perhaps in a demonstration), some find the shot awkward to do since it's not something they ever practice. 

Re: Table Tennis Tip: Pushing and Looping Deep Backspin

With the backhand push, if you can tell that the opponent is positioned (and waiting) to step around to FH loop any push to his backhand, would it be a good idea to be ready to push down the line (and short as you can)? Could this all be avoided by not playing so close to the table? Maybe, after making any push (or serve), step back off of the table so that you can be ready to attack the next ball, while also being prepared to step back in and possibly push the next ball if it's short.

The FH push off the deep ball is likely awkward for those players because the technique will be different, with the arm pushing from the side of the body. Whereas with the normal push of a short ball, the push is in front of the body and 'punching' forward with the forearm.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: Table Tennis Tip: Pushing and Looping Deep Backspin

With the backhand push, if you can tell that the opponent is positioned (and waiting) to step around to FH loop any push to his backhand, would it be a good idea to be ready to push down the line (and short as you can)?

If you see the opponent stepping around too soon, you definitely want to change directions at the last second and quick push to the forehand. In this case, you don't need to push short, though that's an option. 

Here are two Tips of the Week on pushing that cover this type of thing:

Could this all be avoided by not playing so close to the table?

Yes - but the opponent might bring you in with a short serve or push. 

Maybe, after making any push (or serve), step back off of the table so that you can be ready to attack the next ball, while also being prepared to step back in and possibly push the next ball if it's short.

Definitely. It's actually one of the most tiring drills, practicing stepping in and then back out. Few players actually do this drill, and so most aren't very good at it. Top players practice this regularly, both in live drills (partner serves short to the forehand and then quick pushes to backhand, for example) and with multiball (short backspin to forehand, quick backspin to backhand, for example). 

But it's not easy getting back fast after stepping in for a short ball to the forehand, and so oppoonent will try to rush you on this. But you should still be ready with a backhand loop most of the time. Just be ready to push if you aren't ready to loop - it's better to push than to try a rushed backhand loop. It depends on the opponent as well - if he's really good against pushes, then you might want to force that backhand loop. If not, then you can go ahead and push and wait for a better one to attack. 

Re: Table Tennis Tip: Pushing and Looping Deep Backspin

The URLs to the two posts on:

  •     Pushing: Five out of Six Doesn't Cut It
  •     Push With Purpose and Placement

are wrong and point back to this page.

 

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: Table Tennis Tip: Pushing and Looping Deep Backspin

Thanks for pointing that out - not sure what happened. I've fixed the links.