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How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?—5 Useful Tips

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

What is the most important basic skill in table tennis? I think 90% of the people will say the forehand and backhand drive. These two basic skills are what we learn first when we start playing table tennis. They are basic and fundamental shots that form the foundation of the player’s playing style and are extremely important shots that players will use throughout their playing careers.

I can still recall when I first started to learn table tennis when I was in primary school, the first semester we beginners did nothing but just forehand drives and backhand drives, from multiple balls training to practice with teammates.

My coach has corrected my movement of forehand drives thousands of times, including grip, stance, arm motion, and follow-through to help me improve. Thus, no matter whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, forehand drive is absolutely the most basic skill requiring practice every day.

In fact, if you want to improve your basic table tennis skill, then you should click the link to read our previous blog.

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

What is a forehand drive in table tennis?

The forehand drive in table tennis is a foundational attacking technique executed by striking the ball with the front of the racket using a brushing motion. This shot gets its name because it is usually played from the forehand side of the body and is used to generate pace and direct the ball toward the opponent’s court.

Players have to be able to do forehand drives consistently and increase the power of the stroke gradually. Once the players can hit the ball powerfully, they will be able to use it as a weapon in different situations and game styles, making it more difficult for their opponents to return.

It should be noticed that the forehand drive is similar to the forehand topspin but they are not the same drill. In our previous blog The secret of the Topspin forehand in Table Tennis, we talked about the difference between these 2 drills. You can click the link and make a reference.

Why is Forehand drive important?

The most basic attacking shot

Forehand drives can be used in loads of situations such as returning the serves, rallies, etc. Players can hit the ball with different efforts and return the ball at different locations to confuse the opponents.

For example, a player might use a slower and more controlled forehand drive to set up a more powerful shot, or a fast and flat forehand drive to put pressure on the opponent and end the rally quickly.

Create opportunities and open up quickly

In fact, the forehand drive is the easiest way to open up new scoring opportunities for a player. On the one hand, normally the forehand drive is more powerful than the backhand drive so players can cause more problems for their opponents.

On the other hand, a well-executed forehand drive can create space and time for the player, giving them the opportunity to follow up with another shot. For example, if a player hits a powerful forehand drive down the line, it may force their opponent to retreat, creating an opening for the player to attack again.

Help players develop overall skill

Mastering the forehand drive can be super beneficial to a player’s overall technique and skillset. The forehand drive involves proper grip, stance, and wrist action, which are all critical components of effective table tennis play. But these details can be also applied in other skills like the loop, block, push, chop, etc.

But I think players can also develop a basic sense of good footwork during practicing forehand drive, which is essential in table tennis. Especially when I started to learn to chop, I realized that footwork is super important and all the basic skills come from the forehand and backhand drives.

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

How to Play a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis?

Basic Forehand Drive Technique


Players have to learn how to hold the racket correctly before starting to hit the ball. In our previous blog How to hold table tennis rackets in the best way we have explained different types of grips such as penhold and shakehand grip.

Basically, beginners can choose the grip that they feel comfortable with.

Correct Stance

The stance of the forehand drive comes from the ready position. Almost all the skills come from the ready position and players have to reset after every single stroke.

In the ready position, the body should be facing the net, with the hips and shoulders aligned parallel to the table. Players can bend their knees slightly to lower the center of gravity and lean forward the body slightly as well.

The stance should provide stability and balance, with the feet positioned shoulder-width apart and facing the table. The knees should be slightly bent and the weight distributed evenly across both feet. If you play table tennis with your right hand, then your right leg can be a little backed from the left leg(and Vice Versa).

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

Backswing to prepare

When the ball comes to the players, they should first bring the racquet back and away from the ball, keeping the elbow slightly bent. It allows the player to generate power and speed, while also helping to maintain control and consistency in the shot. It’s somehow like doing a punch in boxing, as we always need a distance to exert more effort.

The racquet should then be raised to a position above the shoulder, with the wrist cocked back and the blade of the racquet facing toward the ceiling. It should be noticed that players have to control the direction of the blade and keep it steady.

Remember that in this process don’t add any sudden or excessive movements. Otherwise, the ball might be hit outside the table.

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

Hit the ball

The most essential part of playing forehand drives is to hit the ball reasonably. After the ball falls down and bounces up from the table, players should bring the racquet forwards toward the ball.

Please remember that we have to hit the ball at the correct time! Players have to make contact with the ball at the highest point of the forward swing. Hitting the ball too early or too late will lead to mistakes and a loss of the point.

Beginners should learn how to use the power of the wrist. At the moment of contact, the wrist should be snapped forwards, which will help to transfer the energy from the arm into the ball and increase the speed of the shot.

The wrist snap should be coordinated with the rest of the body, with the arm and shoulder working in tandem to create a powerful and effective stroke.

And after the skills have been improved, players then should also practice using the wrist snap in conjunction with good footwork and body positioning, to ensure maximum efficiency and power in their shots.

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

Don’t forget to reset

Is the stroke finished? Not at all! After executing a forehand drive in table tennis, it is important to quickly restore the racquet to a ready-to-hit position for the next shot. This is a tiny detail but differs between advanced players and intermediate players.

Actually, many good habits of table tennis should be cultivated at the beginning of learning. As ping pong is a fast-paced game, players must always reset and prepare for the next stroke.

Thus, players should follow through smoothly with their shot, bringing the racquet back to a high position above the shoulder. The wrist should be relaxed, and the arm should be extended, ready for the next shot. This is also the key to increasing the consistency and control of the strokes.

I strongly suggest everyone look at the forehand drive of Ma Long. He is one of the best table tennis players in table tennis history and it is widely recognized that he has the most standard forehand drive.

5 Tips to Do A Forehand Drive in An Advanced way

From a table tennis player to a coach, I have some experience to share with you on how to improve your forehand drive skill efficiently and play like a pro. If you can do all these following tips, then your strokes will be powerful and you are no longer a beginner.

  • The rotation axis for the forehand drive should be centered at the waist, not the elbow

Many players do the wrong movement and take the elbow as the axis. We can always notice that beginners almost never use the waist but just hit the ball by moving their arms.

However, the waist is a more stable and efficient center of rotation, allowing players to generate more power and control in their shots. It helps players to involve the larger muscles of their torso in the shot, leading to a more fluid and efficient motion.

On the other hand, using the elbow as the center of rotation can result in a more rigid and inconsistent motion, as well as increased strain on the smaller muscles in the arm.

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

  • Keep a closed angle when hitting the ball

A closed angle refers to the angle between the blade of your racket and the table surface. When the angle is closed, the blade is positioned more vertically, rather than horizontally.

A closed angle also allows players to make consistent and controlled contact with the ball and generate more spin on the ball.

But I don’t mean that we should always hit the ball at a closed angle. Pros will adjust it according to their rubber, to the incoming ball. But for those beginners, it’s better for them to practice with a closed angle. Otherwise, they will always miss the ball when doing the forehand or backhand drives.

  • Do weight transfer

Weight transfer refers to the movement of the player’s body weight from one foot to the other during the shot. This concept we have explained in our previous blog about how to play forehand topspin in table tennis. In fact, no matter whether it’s forehand topspin or drive, weight transfer is always an important part and it’s mentioned frequently by our coaches.

To execute a good weight transfer, players should start with their weight on their back foot, and then transfer it to their front foot as they follow through with the shot. The transfer of weight creates a coiling motion in the legs, which can be used to generate additional energy in the shot.

How to do a forehand drive in table tennis?

  • Keep the body slightly far from the elbow

Should we keep our body close to or far from the elbow? Actually, it depends on the level of the players. Coach always requires the beginners to keep it slightly close to avoid additional movement, so that the players can hit the ball consistently.

However, after some time’s practice, the coach will tell you that you can keep the distance between the body and arm a little bit larger. That is because keeping the body slightly away from the elbow can help to improve flexibility and allow for a full range of motion during the shot.

Players can also maintain a more relaxed and open stance to improve balance and stability. Thus, players can generate more powerful shots with heavier spin and hit the ball in a flexible and consistent way.

  • Never drop the wrist

When I was a little kid, the issue my coach corrected me on the most was this one. When the wrist is dropped, it loses its rigidity and stability, which can result in a lack of control over the ball. So the ball always can’t go over the net.

In addition, a strong and stable wrist can help players generate more speed and energy in the shot. So on the one hand, during the training, we have to remind ourselves constantly to maintain the correct gesture. On the other hand, some wrist-strengthening exercises are also greatly useful.  We had 2 hours of physical training every day in China when we played as professional players.


The forehand drive is a fundamental and essential shot in table tennis. With a proper stance, backswing, hitting technique, and wrist movement, players can achieve more control, power, and accuracy in their forehand drives.

Players can combine the forehand drive and backhand drive together in the training to improve their skills. What my coach always tells me is: “Quantity comes first, then quality.” It means for beginners they’d better try to control the ball well and increase consistency.

It’s not recommended for them to hit the ball with super great efforts at first. After mastering the basic forehand drive, they can gradually add more power and more spin to the strokes.

All in all, the forehand drive is a shot that takes time, patience, and practice to master, but with consistent and deliberate effort, players can elevate their game to a whole new level. It is a versatile shot that is essential for a player’s offensive and defensive play, making it an indispensable part of the game.

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