The forehand push is one of the basic skills in table tennis. Forehand push and backhand push are usually taught after the player has learned the basic forehand and backhand drives. These four skills are considered fundamental techniques in table tennis and form the basis for most other shots and strategies in the game. Thus, it’s super important to master these techniques well, leading to a more well-rounded and complete game.
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What is forehand push in table tennis?
A forehand push in table tennis is a defensive shot where the player uses their forehand to hit the ball back to the opponent in a controlled manner. The shot is executed by hitting the ball downwards on its back and underneath to create backspins.
In fact, the forehand and backhand drives are used to deal with flat hits or topspins. In comparison, the forehand push and backhand push are mainly to return the backspin balls.
Take a right-hand player as an example; when a backspin ball falls onto the right side of the table, he could return the ball with the forehand push. The ball can be returned to any place, but players usually avoid doing the long push toward the forehand area. This is because it’s easy for the opponent to lift up and create attacking opportunities.
Thus, players usually return the ball to the backhand area of the opponent or load the ball at the net zone. The ball located at the net zone is also called a “drop shot.” It’s harder for the opponent to open up the game if the ball comes really short unless they have excellent flick technique. So mastering the forehand push can help table tennis players control the match better.
How to Do A Forehand Push in Table Tennis
To start, players should have a relaxed grip to control the shot better. Players can choose both penhold or shakehand grip, and there is no difference in doing a forehand push. You can read our previous blog on how to hold the table tennis racket in the best way to learn the difference between these different grips.
The ready position is similar to all other shots that we have introduced in our previous blog. Keep your feet positioned shoulder-width apart and distribute your weight evenly.
If you are a right-hand player, keep your right foot back and knees slightly bent, which will help you maintain a sturdy stance(And vice versa if you are a left-hand player). Then hold the paddle with a relaxed grip and keep your non-paddle arm pointing toward the ball.
Players should stand close to the table, facing the direction of the incoming ball. The paddle should be held in front of the body at chest height. Lots of beginners hold the racket in a really low place, which is a common mistake! Some players even hold it below the table. This bad habit will greatly impact the games, and it takes them more time to strike the shot.
Track the incoming ball with your gaze and anticipate where it will land on the table. If the ball is probably short, the first step is moving your right leg forward. This will help you reach the ball and have better control. Remember that footwork in table tennis is always more important than the motion of arms.
Then you should rotate the waist and shoulder to move back the racket. Unlike forehand drive, forehand push doesn’t require such huge body weight power. Players are supposed to hit the ball much softer and have more control.
Another difference between a forehand drive and a forehand push is the open angle of the racket. Players should close the racket when doing forehand drive but open it when doing forehand push. The racket angle can be slightly opened at 45 degrees or even larger. Players have to find their best open angle through consistent practice.
Hit the ball
As the ball approaches, use your eyes to track its path and adjust your positioning accordingly. When striking the ball, add some forward rotation and transfer your body weight onto your front foot. This will provide the necessary power and control to execute the shot successfully.
Maintain the arm and wrist relaxed and only exert strength at the ball’s contact. Players should brush or cut the bottom of the ball to generate backspin! As we mentioned in the third step, beginners can start by opening the racket at 45 degrees. But after mastering this skill, they can adjust the racket more horizontally or vertically.
If you adjust the racket face slightly horizontally, you can add more spin to the shot, causing the ball to move more slowly and making it more difficult for your opponent to return. On the other hand, if you adjust the racket face vertically, you can add more speed to the shot, especially when you cut the ball rapidly, making it faster and less predictable.
Finish the shot and restore rapidly
After executing the forehand push, the direction of the racket at the end of the shot should be pointed toward your desired location, as this helps ensure accuracy and control.
Once the shot is finished, you should restore back to the ready position. This is super important after returning a short ball, as the opponent would probably return back the ball to your backhand side with relatively fast speed. This strategy can also be used for your games where you can move your opponent with a spinny and short shot with a long and fast strike next.
Anyway, proper follow-through and reset allow you to be prepared for the next shot and stay focused on the rally. These tiny details should be noticed at the very beginning of learning table tennis.
3 Tips to play the forehand push in an advanced way
Change the speed
Players can do both fast and slow forehand pushes during the match. It’s essential to combine both these two types of pushes to change the rhythm of the games.
Advanced players frequently use the fast push, but it requires better timing. The ball should be hit before its peak with a fast motion. The ball has less spin but is so fast that it leaves the opponent less time to react.
Players have more contact time with a slow push, so the ball would have more spin. The slow speed gives more time for the opponents to prepare for the attack; thus, the placement is quite important. It’s suggested to cut the ball much longer, better at the bottom line, to make it uncomfortable for the opponent to lift it up.
Tell if the ball can be attacked
Forehand push is a relatively defensive shot, and it’s much safer. However, the pushes can’t help you win the game. Therefore, when we started to learn table tennis, our coach only permitted us to do only up to three consecutive pushes, and we were required to find opportunities to attack.
Thus, you should always evaluate the situation and determine if it is an appropriate shot before using the forehand push. If the ball comes with great backspins or is extremely short, it’s better to push it back. However, if the ball has less spin or is slightly high, then you can choose to do a forehand flick or forehand topspin to take the initiative.
Adjust the angle as well
Apart from changing the speed of the strike, it’s also crucial to adjust the angle in the games. As we mentioned, an open angle helps you to add more speed to the stroke, while a closed angle leads to more spin.
If the incoming ball is super spinny, we should open the angle as much as possible and brush the bottom with enough time. Otherwise, the ball may fail to go over the net. This always happens when we play with choppers, as they can create super heavy backspin balls.
If the incoming ball has less spin, we could close the angle a little bit and return it faster. Mixing up your shots and playing at different speeds and with different spins can create unpredictable patterns that are difficult for your opponent to read.
The forehand push is widely used when we receive serves or the balls with backspin. We can return the ball with proper speed, spin, and location. It allows us to control the pace of the game in the early stages of a rally.
Forehand push can also be used as a transition shot to prepare for a more aggressive play. We can do the following topspin to change the rhythm of the game and win the point. A well-placed forehand push can make it difficult for your opponent to make a clean attack and give you chances to take the initiative.
In conclusion, mastering the forehand push is an essential part of a comprehensive table tennis game and can significantly improve your overall performance on the court. Players have to take it seriously practice it as the forehand and backhand drives on a daily basis.