Important Backhand Techniques in Table Tennis

11 Essential Backhand Techniques in Table Tennis

The backhand wing in table tennis is a lot more versatile than the forehand wing, with countless effective backhand techniques to learn.

Some player styles revolve around the backhand wing. There are backhand dominant loopers, blockers, choppers, and even lobbers.

In this article, we’ll go through every single backhand technique, explaining in what context to utilize them and how to perform them. Let’s begin!

1) Backhand drive

The backhand drive one of two basic backhand strokes. It is usually the first shot you’ll be taught by a table tennis coach. 

The backhand drive is a compact stroke that carries slight topspin and is played at a moderate pace. This stroke is played mainly by beginners and intermediate level players whenever they strike a topspin ball. 

To play a backhand drive, you should line up behind the ball, move your bat towards your belly button and contact the ball on top of the bounce by extending your elbow forwards. 

We have written an in-depth guide on how to master the backhand drive if you want to learn more about perfecting this technique.

The backhand drive is effective at lower levels of play, especially when it’s placed correctly. A well-placed drive is safer and more effective than a power loop hit straight to the opponent’s racket. 

This is why the drive is taught at such an early stage. It’s probably the easiest backhand stroke, and you can attack your opponent consistently by playing it.

Here’s a video by Tom Lodziak explaining how to play the backhand drive: 

2) Backhand push

The second basic backhand stroke is the backhand push. This technique, contrary to the drive, is played against backspin shots.

The backhand push involves grazing underneath the ball to get backspin. Even though this is a basic stroke, it’s used at every level of play, from beginners to professional players, so it’s crucial to get it right.

To play the backhand push correctly, you should angle your racket so that it faces upwards, bring your bat towards your stomach, and extend your elbow forwards, grazing underneath the ball when it’s still on its way up.

If you want a more in-depth explanation, you can check out our comprehensive guide on how to master the backhand push.

The backhand push is a defensive technique. You can push the ball short or long, and this opens up many tactical possibilities. 

You can try pushing short so that your opponent has to come into the table and then play a long ball to catch them off-guard. 

A good push is a guarantee of safety. 

If you push short, it’s nearly impossible that your opponent will win the point by attacking in the next shot. If you push long, your opponent may attack you, but not with as much power. The backspin will prevent your opponents from hitting directly forwards.

The backhand push is such a safe and effective shot that lots of players at the beginner and intermediate levels of play will specialize in pushing the ball.

These players are known as pushers and they’ll push over and over again until their opponent makes a mistake.

In the following video, Alois and Jeff from Pingskills will teach you everything you need to know about the backhand push.

3) Backhand block 

The backhand block is the third basic technique.

This shot is played whenever your opponent is attacking. The backhand block is one of the most important shots in table tennis since it’s the shot that will keep the point alive if you’re being pressured by your opponent close to the table.

In fact, it’s so important that some players base their playstyle around this shot. These players are called “blockers”. Some players use long pimples on their backhand side and utilize them to make their blocks even deadlier. 

We compiled a list of the best table tennis players of all time. The second best player ever, Jan Ove Waldner, used the backhand block as one of his main weapons.

If you’re using regular inverted rubbers, then the backhand block is subdivided into two variants: the passive block and the active block.

The difference between these two is that in the passive block you’re not adding any power to your block and you’re just trying to absorb the incoming energy, whereas in the active block you’re adding a slight wrist motion to the shot, returning the ball with additional power.

If you want to play an effective backhand block, there are 2 key tips you should always keep in mind.

The first tip is to move behind the ball and not reach with your arm. Lots of players will just swing their arms behind the ball instead of moving their feet and positioning their bodies behind the ball. This greatly hinders the consistency and stability of the backhand block.

The second tip is to look out for the spin that the ball is carrying. 

If your opponent played a heavy topspin shot, such as an open-up, then you’ll have to close the racket angle to account for the spin. 

Conversely, if your opponent played a weak loop, you should open your racket angle so that the ball doesn’t fall into the net. 

It’s also a good idea to perform an active block rather than a passive block if the incoming ball isn’t too powerful. 

Jeff and Alois from Pingskills go into all of these details in the following video:

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4) Backhand loop

The backhand loop is the bread-and-butter shot of most offensive players.

The backhand loop is a topspin shot that’s used to attack the opponent. It’s basically a more explosive version of the backhand drive.

If you want to play this shot correctly, then you should stand behind the ball, bring your racket towards the far side of your stomach, release your elbow and forearm and swing your wrist in an explosive manner. It’s also a good idea to rotate your waist to get additional power on the ball.

You should also hit on top of the ball to get topspin on the shot.

A good tip to learn the backspin loop is to imagine you’re throwing a frisbee. 

This shot can be played against slight topspin or against backspin. Loops played against topspin shots are called counterloops. 

If you want to loop against backspin, you should open the angle of your racket and hit a bit more upwards to clear the net.

Here’s a video from Table Tennis Daily explaining the backhand loop against backspin:

If you want to topspin a slight topspin or no-spin ball, the key is directing your energy forwards and doing a short, snappy stroke. 

Here’s a great video by Jin Jeon explaining how to play the backhand loop:

5) Backhand chop

The backhand chop is the quintessential defensive stroke. It’s the trademark shot of defensive players.

To play an effective backhand chop, you should start with your racket on the side of your head and finish around knee height. You should contact the ball around waist height. 

Depending on the acceleration of your stroke, this shot will carry different levels of backspin. It’s a good idea to vary the spin of your chops from slight backspin to heavy backspin to deceive your opponent and force mistakes.

If you do this correctly, your opponent will overshoot the table on the chops that carry little spin and dump the ball into the net on the chops that carry heavy backspin.

Lots of players, such as Ruwen Filus, Joo Se Hyuk, or Kang Dongsoo will base their playstyles around this shot. These players are known as choppers since their best shot is the backhand chop.

Here’s a video of Joo Se Hyuk best points:

The backhand chop is a lot more effective if you chop with long pimples. Long pimples reverse the spin on the ball, so if your opponent plays a topspin shot, then they’ll receive backspin in return. 

Other choppers, such as Yuto Muramatsu, prefer chopping with short pips since short pips give them the ability to retain control while adding even more spin to their chops.

It is also possible to chop with inverted rubbers, but it’s a lot more difficult since they fully absorb incoming spin, unlike pimpled rubbers.

If your opponent plays a heavy topspin shot, it’ll be very difficult for you to chop it with inverted rubbers since your chop will most likely pop up quite high.

However, the backhand chop does have its place in the offensive player’s arsenal. 

The backhand chop is a stroke all players should know how to execute because it prevents the opponent from attacking the ball with power.

If you’re in a compromised situation, it’s better to try to chop instead of just passing it over to the other side. A chop will force your opponent to either push the ball or open up for a high risk attacking shot.

If you’re an offensive player, your opponent won’t expect a chop from you. Many times, they’ll try to push the ball, which will give you the chance to recover and come back to the table.

You can learn how to perform the backhand chop by watching this video from Pingskills:

6) Backhand punch

The backhand punch is the second advanced attacking technique against slight topspin. 

It differs from the backhand loop in that the backhand punch is basically a flat hit. 

You’re not going for spin, the idea is to hit the ball on top of the bounce and use that height to clear the net rather than using the up-and-down parabola of a topspin shot.

The difference between the punch and the drive is that the punch is a high-speed shot that’s a lot more dangerous but also a lot riskier. 

The idea of the backhand punch is to hit behind the ball so that you’re impacting the ball full-on, as if you were hitting a smash. This maximizes the speed of the ball and minimizes the spin you can get. 

The backhand punch is a deadly stroke when performed correctly since the receiver has to deal with a high-speed, low-spin ball that has a very flat parabola. 

It’s very hard to block a backhand punch and it’s even harder to counter it. 

Two professional players that love the backhand punch are Quadri Aruna and Truls Moregardh. Truls even created his own version of the backhand punch – the backspin punch.

Truls hits the ball in a way that creates slight backspin so that the opponent has to deal with a high-speed, slight backspin ball. This shot is near impossible to return but it’s also very hard to perform.

Here is a video of Truls explaining his trademark shot: 

7) Backhand counter loop

The backhand counter loop is one of the hardest shots to perform in all of table tennis. This shot requires a very fine touch and timing.

The technique is very similar to that of the backhand loop, but it’s even more important to move properly and to hit the ball in the correct position. Any slight error will result in you missing the table.

As you’re playing a loop against a topspin ball, you should close the racket angle and brush over the ball so that you don’t overshoot the table.

8) Backhand flick

The backhand flick is a modern stroke that now plays a crucial part in world table tennis. Some players such as Lin Yun-Ju like to play the backhand flick from anywhere on the table, not only on their backhand sides.

This shot was created to attack short balls. The main way to prevent your opponent from attacking is to touch short since this doesn’t give your opponent enough room to play a full stroke.

The backhand flick was created to counteract this strategy.

The idea of the backhand flick is to create lift by pointing your racket downwards and flicking upwards with your wrist. This generates topspin and helps the ball clear the net. You can also contact the ball on its side to create sidespin.

The backhand flick is a very useful stroke since it wins you the initiative in the rally, and every high-level player must know how to execute it at a high level to pressure their opponents even on the receive.

9) Backhand serve

The backhand serve is one of the simplest and deadliest serves you can learn.

This serve is a lot more intuitive to perform than the pendulum or the reverse pendulum serve. 

You just have to put your dominant hand across your body, throw the ball up and go through the ball from left to right if you’re right-handed and from right to left if you’re left-handed.

If you want to get topspin on the ball, you have to contact on top of the ball. If you want backspin, then you should graze underneath the ball.

Craig Bryant and Tom Lodziak have filmed an excellent tutorial video on how to perform this killer serve.

10) Backhand chop block

The backhand chop block is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated table tennis shots.

I think that all players should know how to chop block, but I have never seen a coach teaching the technique.

To perform a chop block correctly, you should swipe around the side of the ball just after it bounces. You have to close the angle of your racket depending on the amount of topspin the ball is carrying.

The backhand chop block is a great tool to turn defense into attack. If you chop block an incoming loop, your opponent is going to have to deal with a heavy back/sidespin receive, which they’ll most likely push back to you, negating their attack.

It’s a good idea to perform a chop block and then open up the following ball to gain back the initiative of the point.

Here’s a video by Craig Bryant and Tom Lodziak explaining the ins and outs of the backhand chop block:

11) Backhand lob

The last stroke all table tennis players should know how to perform is the backhand lob.

The backhand lob can be a very effective shot when performed correctly. Even though it’s a defensive shot, it can cause tons of problems for the opponent. 

Michael Maze’s strategy for beating Hao Shuai at the 2005 WTTC basically revolved around lobbing with his backhand. 

There are also many players, such as Adam Bobrow, who incorporate lobbing as a way to attack the opponent.

To perform a good backhand lob, you should try to get topspin on the ball and good depth on the table. 

You should contact the ball from underneath and hit upwards, to get good height on your lob.

Your opponent will either smash the ball or play a drop shot so you should be active on your feet to move quickly for the following ball. 

If you played your lob correctly, your opponent won’t be able to play a drop shot because of the topspin and the depth, and they’ll also find it difficult to smash the ball, giving you a chance to win the point on their return.

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The Controller
Alvaro Munno - Table Tennis Player & Author

Alvaro’s been playing Table Tennis since he was 15 and is now ranked within the top 100 in his native Argentina. He loves to compete in provincial tournaments and is always looking for ways to improve. Alvaro made his favourite memories with a racket in hand, and he joined the RacketInsight team to share his passion with other players!

Blade: Butterfly Fan Zhendong ALC | Forehand: Butterfly Dignics 09c | Backhand: Butterfly Rozena
Playstyle: The Controller

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