Angle of elbow on forehand topspin shots

Table Tennis Strokes and Technique

Last updated 11 years ago

Ben C

Ben C Asked 11 years ago

 I am looking for confirmation as to the angle of the elbow throughout the various forehand topspin shots. From what I've seen in your videos I believe the elbow at finish position should be at 90 degrees, especially for topspin against chop, however I would like a description of the shot from start to finish and whether it changes for instance when dealing with topspin/block, topspin/topspin etc.

If the elbow joint is relatively static it also brings up the question of where the power comes from: hips, legs, shoulder, wrist; and in what proportion.

I ask this as some suggest that the arm should only be slightly bent at the start of the shot, and be whipped into the 90 degree angle on contact with the ball to produce extra topspin.

If I could have as in-depth an answer as possible, I promise not to ask another question for at least a month - you can't say fairer than that.

Thanks for the great site, and all the best to you both.



Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Answered 11 years ago

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the question and please ask as many questions as you have. We love talking about Table Tennis. We are thinking about doing a few more video responses to questions and this is one where I think it would definitely help. I'll see what we can do there.

Back to your question though. In a lot of circles the difference you describe between starting with the elbow already quite bent and not moving much throughout the stroke is often referred to as the European loop. Starting with your arm completely straight and then bending to the 90 degree position is often referred to as the Chinese loop.

Which is correct? Both! We've had some great champions with both styles.

With both styles you still generate a lot of power from the legs, the turning of the waist and a little bit from the wrist on the forehand (a lot with the wrist on the backhand). In week 5 of our Premium lessons we have a master class on Faster Forehand Topspin where we talk about this. In week 11 the master class is on using your wrist.

For my own topspin, I keep the elbow fairly static and try to get more power from my legs and waist. However Alois tends to use a bit more of a bigger swing with his arm by starting with his arm a little straighter.

Experiment around a little and see what style you prefer. Watch a few of the top players and pick one that you like and try and emulate their style.

And remember, we love talking about Table Tennis so ask as many questions as you like! 

Notify me of updates
Add to Favourites
Back to Questions

Thoughts on this question

Ben C

Ben C Posted 11 years ago

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the quick response, that clears it up nicely, and I'll be sure to ask questions as and when they come to me.

From what you say I presume static elbow perhaps has the advantage of being more consistent (less movement to mistime), whereas using elbow to aid spin may produce more of said spin.

I think I might be guilty of being too prescriptive and not going with what feels like the right shot, something which perhaps happens if you're in search of good technique, but have come late (in age) to the game. Striking the right balance can be tricky.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 11 years ago

Hi Ben,

I personally found it more consistent by not having such a big swing with the forearm. However a lot of other people find a bigger swing more natural for them. With a lot of training I think both can be very successful.

I do think that the advancement in rubber technology (and the use of speed glue when it was legal) has definitely made it possible to succeed with the so called European loop. You can still generate plenty of speed and spin by using your legs and waist and the faster rubbers.

Become a free member to post a comment about this question.