Apply backhand success to forehand

Table Tennis Strokes and Technique

Last updated 6 years ago

Linh Vu

Linh Vu Asked 6 years ago

Dear Pingskills,

I am a right-handed shakehand players. I use blade Butterfly Sardius, backhand rubber DHS Hurricane 3-50 2.1mm hardness 37 red commercial version no booster, forehand rubber DHS Hurricane Neo 3 2.2 mm hardness 39 black commercial version no booster. My USATT rating is about 1600.  

My backhand is so good that I can attack serves from my opponents. If my opponents serve to the my wide left, left, right, I will put the ball away (win a point immediately) or my backhand attack will put my opponent in a passive position.

My opponents keep complaining that I have an unfair advantage. The application of blade Sardius, backhand rubber DHS Hurricane 3-50, and my unique backhand stroke are what my opponents label as unfair advantage. Most players have backhand rubber Butterfly Tenergy 05 2.1mm red.

The blade Butterfly Sardius is super fast only if I have a firm contact with the ball. Otherwise, the blade is just like any other blades on the market as the ball does not penetrate to the blade.  

Backhand rubber DHS Hurricane 3-50 2.1mm hardness 37 has DHS Hurricane Neo 3 sheet and Butterfly Tenergy 05 sponge. As a result, according to my estimate, it can generate 1.5 times the spin of DHS Hurricane Neo 3 due to the use of softer sponge Butterfly Tenergy 05. It can generate one half the speed of Butterfly Tenergy 05 due to the stickiness of DHS Hurricane Neo 3 sheet.

My backhand stroke is so unique. I use my full body to perform the backhand stroke. Start with my legs, then my waist (belly), my shoulder, my upper arm, my elbow, and most important my wrist. For underspin, I use my left leg to push up. For anything else other than underspin, I rotate my legs. I DO NOT TRANSFER WEIGHT from left leg to right leg. For underspin, my head moves up since my left leg pushes up, but does not move from left to right. For non-underspin, my head rotates from left to right since my legs rotate. However, head does not move from left to right. The other parts perform the same for underspin or non-underspin.

I can brush super thinly the ball at 3PM, 2PM, 1PM, 12PM depending on the direction, spin, depth, speed, height, placement of the ball. I can also have firm contact with the ball (still a loop not a smash) at 3PM, 2PM, 1PM, 12PM only if the ball is too high, the ball has sufficient topspin, or it has underspin, or the ball is a smash from my opponent.

My wrist elbow start position (I call it wrist elbow line) is parallel to my waist line. Wrist elbow line is lower if I loop the ball under the table. Wrist elbow line is higher if I loop a high ball well above the table. My wrist is to the left of my waist (most players have wrists near belly buttons). The clearance between my wrist/elbow and my body is less than 1 inch. Most players have clearance about 4 inch or even more.

My backhand stroke generates a tremendous amount of spin and considerable speed. Most players refer to this stroke as unreturnable. Surprisingly, I rarely use it. Most of the time, I use it with reduced spin/speed intentionally to increase consistency. However, my opponents don't know when I will use this unreturnable stroke. Because most players are afraid of this stroke, they try their best not to put the ball in such a way that I can use this stroke. In the process, they make many mistakes. For example, they try to make tricky serves to my wide left, left, right. They overdo it. They end up with the ball not even landing on my side of the table. During my serve (my serve is too simple. everybody can read my serve and can return it easily), my opponents overdo it. They try to push it hard with a lot of underspin. They make a lot of mistakes. They attack first. They make many mistakes. They try to return the ball to the tricky placement. They make mistakes. They make mistakes because they are afraid of my unreturnable stroke. This is what I call the scare tactic. In a 7-set game, I use it only 7 times. Yet, it has tremendous psychological effect on my opponents.

The stroke takes much longer for backswing, requires high degree of coordination between legs, waist, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, and wrist. It takes even longer for recovery time. If the ball ever comes back , I will lose the point as I cannot recover fast enough. The stroke consumes a lot of my energy. I estimate that this stroke consumes 5-10 times more energy than a typical backhand stroke. For this reason, I use it as a scare tactic. Most of the time, I use my backhand consistency, my ball placement, traditional backhand (banana and non-banana) flick, traditional backhand loop, traditional backhand smash, and my change in spin/speed/depth/height to win the game.

I like to apply my backhand success to my forehand. so far, it does not work. The human anatomy on backhand and forehand is fundamentally different. I wonder if you can give me any advice as I have the following issues with my forehand:

1. The use of wrist on forehand is so difficult. On the backhand, the motion of backhand wrist is similar to the motion I toss a Frisbee. But on the forehand, I cannot use that Frisbee motion. Instead, I use ulnar and radial deviation for forehand wrist. But it is not as effective as the Frisbee motion. Also it hurts a lot. How can I avoid injury? The Frisbee motion on my backhand does not cause injury. ulnar and radial deviation on my forehand wrist causes a lot of pain. please give some advice.

2. I cannot completely close the racket on the forehand. At most, my racket is about 20 degree to the floor. Even at 20 degree, I don't feel comfortable. My forehand grip is standard like most players hold their rackets. Yet, on forehand, I hold my racket with only two fingers, thumb finger and index finger. I let the other three fingers loose. Most players think that I may toss the racket to the air. I have never tossed the racket to the air. The use of only two fingers gives me a lot of flexibility and reduce injury. On my backhand, my racket is 0 degree i.e. parallel to the floor. I can do it comfortable with relaxation. How can I close my racket on my forehand with comfort and relaxation?

3. Forehand stroke has a bigger swing as compared to the backhand stroke. As a result, I am having a hard time of brushing super thinly. Many times, my intention is to have super thin contact with the ball (spiny loop). Yet, I end up with firm contact with the ball. How can I practice super thinly brushing?

4. One advantage forehand over backhand, I realize, is speed. With firm contact with the ball, forehand loop generates far more speed than a backhand loop. But this advantage so far does not translate into winning points (I win more points on backhand, I lose more points on forehand). The forehand bigger swing makes me uncomfortable. Many times, the ball does not come to me. I miss the ball entirely. On the backhand, I use my wrist only if the ball comes much shorter than expected. do you have advice?

I generally forehand loop with firm contact. Firm contact works best when the ball is high, the ball has some topspin, the has some underspin, or the ball is a smash from opponent. I cannot forehand loop other balls as other balls require super thinly contact. Do you have any advice?

forehand bigger swing takes more time on the backswing phase. For this reason, it is difficult if not impossible to counter attack a smash and fast loop. On the backhand,


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 6 years ago

Hi Linh,

I hear what you are saying about the fluency of the Backhand stroke.

On the forehand you can also get some forward motion with your wrist.  One way to think about it is to make a figure 8 with your wrist.  Also take a look at the Advanced Forehand Topspin video.

If you want to close your racket on the forehand use the forearm to help you as well. Relax your forearm and wrist which may help also.

Getting the change of angle will help with the finer contact.  You can also get good brushing action by hitting up the back of the ball more rather than over the top of the ball.

If you are trying to counter attack then shorten your swing on the forehand.  You don't need a bigger swing.  So think of it as an extension of a block rather than shortening a big topspin stroke.


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Johan B

Johan B Posted 6 years ago

Wow video please :)


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Might be a good candidate for Ask the coach video response next week.



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