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The forehand push forms one of the four basic rallying shots of Table Tennis, along with the backhand drive, forehand drive and backhand push. Master these four shots and you will graduate from a beginner to intermediate player.
This is probably the hardest of the four basic skills shots, with the forehand push often taking beginners the longest to master. Whilst it’s a defensive shot with the aim of consistently hitting the other side of the table, it’s made more challenging because you’re playing the ball outside the line of your body.
Ultimately, this means you need to practise a lot to develop the hand-eye coordination and feeling required to play good forehand push shots. This page will give you all the advice you need to learn how to play a forehand push. Let’s get into it!
What is the Forehand Push?
The forehand push is primarily a controlled defensive shot designed to continue a rally and prevent your opponent from playing an attacking return. It can be played whenever a ball is received at a low/medium height with backspin (or no spin), short or mid-length on your forehand side.
That’s right, there are only a limited amount of scenarios where the forehand push should be played. You need to have backspin or float (no spin) on the ball or you’ll find it just spins down into the net. If the ball is coming long on the table, it’s very difficult to get the required angle or spin on your shot.
When you play a forehand push, you would expect to impart a small amount of backspin on the ball for your opponent to deal with.
As with all of the basic shots, a right-handed player would expect to play a forehand push on the right-hand side of the table. With the forehand push, you should always be playing the ball ahead of your body, across to the forehand side.
Most players would use the forehand push when trying to return a backspin serve that is short on the forehand side.
Forehand Push Technique
As with all the basic shots, the core forehand push technique is quite simple and breaks down into four distinct phases.
Phase 1 – Ready Position
Your shots will always be better when you start in what’s called the “ready position”. This is the position you should always try and return to after playing your shot.
Phase 2 – Backswing
Once you have seen that your opponent has played a shot that allows you to return with a forehand push, you will need to start your backswing. This is quite different to a drive shot, so pay attention to the different elements.
Phase 3 – Striking The Ball
Now you are prepared to play your shot and the ball is travelling towards you, it’s time to play a forward motion that contacts the ball and hits it back towards your opponent’s side of the table. Against most opponents, you are aiming to push the ball so it stays short-medium length on the table without floating high enough they can attack it.
Phase 4 – Follow Through and Recover
As always, the shot doesn’t finish when you make contact with the ball. It’s important to finish your movement and recover quickly to be ready for playing the next shot.
Useful Videos – Learning the Forehand Push
There are a few Youtube videos that are fantastic at explaining how to play a forehand push, particularly useful if you’re a visual learner.
By far the best video covering the forehand push comes from the team at PingSkills. They do a fantastic job explaining all the components with really solid technique. As with a lot of demonstrations, they do seem to neglect the importance of shifting back into the ready position, although I can forgive them for that.
If you’re looking for a slightly longer video that goes into a lot of detail around every stage of the shot, then it’s worth watching this from Tom Lodziak.
I completely agree with everything he’s saying during the video, although I don’t think his demonstration technique always matches up.
Lastly, I recommend watching this video from Prospin95. They break the video down visually into 4 stages of the shot, providing useful demonstrations at each stage.
They recommend practising the shot either “solo”, “multiball” or “with partner” which pretty much just sums up the ways you can play Table Tennis. You can skip that last minute or so.
Top Tips and Prompts
Here are some things you might use to help get familiar with the feeling of playing a forehand push, as well as some of the common pitfalls beginners often fall into.
- Play to the side of your body – It’s easy to try and play the ball when it’s too close to your body (in front of you) but this means making a funny angle with your wrist and losing control.
- Keep your racket angle open – Avoid any temptation to rotate your wrist or forearm during the shot. You need to let the racket do the work. If you need to, adjust the angle of your racket to add more spin or speed.
- Play a gentle, smooth, relaxed shot – The forehand push is not an aggressive shot (most of the time), so you can take your time and play a gentle, more relaxed shot. Make sure to think about the position of your opponent and place the ball where it is most difficult for them to return.
- Ensure your racket finishes close to the table – Again, this is about letting the racket do the work. You do not need to hit upwards at the ball for a forehand push, so make sure the full shot is played with the racket moving forward and downwards towards the ball.
David's been playing Table Tennis since he was 12, earning his first coaching license in 2012. He's played in national team & individual competitions, although he prefers the more relaxed nature of a local league match! After earning his umpiring qualification in England, David moved to Australia and started Racket Insight to share information about the sport he loves.
Blade: Stiga WRB Offensive Classic | Forehand: Calibra LT | Backhand: Xiom Musa
Playstyle: All-Round Attacker