Table tennis, or ping pong, is a sport that requires precision, quick reflexes, and superior strategy. As a player advances in their skills, they encounter and master a variety of strokes that can elevate their game. Each of these strokes has its unique function, and understanding when and how to use them can give a player a significant advantage. Beyond the forehand and the backhand, here are 10 advanced strokes in table tennis that every aspiring champion should aim to master:
1. Loop drive
This is a powerful topspin stroke. The main idea behind a loop drive is to impart as much spin as possible, making the return difficult for the opponent. It’s executed with a strong upward motion and can be played both close to and away from the table. The added spin means the ball dips sharply, often catching opponents off-guard.
When executed on the forehand, players have the advantage of leveraging more power and range, turning defensive rallies into offensive onslaughts. The backhand loop, on the other hand, is often more wrist-oriented, allowing for quicker counters and diversifying angles, especially when there’s less time to react.
The counterdrive is used against drives and other fast shots. It’s similar to a drive but is executed with a shorter stroke and uses the speed of the opponent’s shot. Timing is essential here; the player must connect with the ball just after its peak to maintain the speed and trajectory.
3. Flick or flip
A flick or flip is used against short balls, especially serves. The objective is to impart topspin on a short ball, effectively turning a defensive ball into an offensive opportunity. It’s a wristy shot, and the bat angle is more open than when looping.
This is a defensive stroke, designed to return the ball with heavy backspin. The chopping action is from high to low, and the stroke is primarily used against topspin shots. Choppers stand further from the table and use the chop to break the rhythm of the game and force an error from the opponent.
The hook shot is a variation of the loop, with added sidespin. The bat moves in a curved motion, either from inside-out or outside-in. This imparts a curving trajectory to the ball, making it harder for opponents to judge and return.
While it’s often seen as a basic stroke, the advanced push is executed with heavy sidespin. This is especially useful when receiving serves, as it can disrupt the rhythm of the server and create opportunities for the next shot.
The lob is a defensive stroke, used when pushed away from the table. The aim is to return the ball with a high arc, giving the player enough time to return to position. It’s especially useful against aggressive opponents who smash a lot.
In a reflex shot, the block uses the speed of the opponent’s shot to return the ball quickly. Instead of swinging, the player ‘blocks’ the ball back using a controlled, short motion. The key is anticipation and positioning the bat correctly.
9. Drop shot
This is a deceptive shot, designed to catch the opponent by surprise. Instead of returning the ball with power, the player softly taps it, making it fall just over the net. It’s particularly useful against opponents who stand far from the table.
The smash is the ultimate offensive shot in table tennis. When a ball is returned with a high bounce, players use the opportunity to hit the ball with as much power as possible, aiming to finish the rally. Timing and technique are crucial to ensure the ball lands on the table.
Master your strokes with the right equipment
Mastering advanced table tennis strokes requires not only dedication and practice but also a deep understanding of game tactics. Recognising the ideal moment for each stroke can be pivotal in the outcome of a point. As players hone their skills, they often develop a preference for certain strokes, depending on whether they lean towards being an offensive or defensive player. Yet having a diverse arsenal ensures a dynamic and unpredictable game.
To truly elevate your play and become a skilled table tennis player, buying the right equipment is invaluable. Sin Ten Sports Trading provides a select range of bats, rubbers and other equipment for every aspiring champion.