The backhand push is one of the four basic shots in table tennis, along with the forehand drive, the backhand drive, and the forehand push. These shots form the foundation of a player’s overall game and are essential for developing a solid, well-rounded playing style. You can click the link to reference the basic skill we introduced in our previous blogs.
In many cases, the backhand push is used more frequently than the forehand push during a game of table tennis. That is because, for most people, the forehand loop is easier than the backhand loop.
That means when faced with an incoming backspin ball. if the ball falls on the forehand side, most players will choose to lift up and find opportunities to make the attack. The forehand side is often considered the stronger side for many players, and it is usually easier to generate more powerful shots.
However, many beginners or intermediate players struggle to open up the games with the backhand loops. Since the backhand side is often considered the weaker side for many players, it is often used to control rallies and to play a more defensive shot when faced with heavy backspin from the opponent. This way, players can look to create opportunities to attack for the next several shots.
Therefore, this blog will discuss playing backhand push in table tennis.
What is a backhand push in table tennis?
The backhand push in table tennis is a key defensive shot used to maintain a rally and prevent the opponent from executing an attacking return. Normally speaking, we do a backhand push when the ball is received at a low or medium height with either backspin or no spin and positioned on the backhand side of the table.
Especially faced with balls with strong backspin, no matter if it’s long or short, we can push it back instead of looping. Some choppers can generate quite spinny balls with extremely low arcs, and it’s almost impossible to lift it up for many intermediate players. In this case, players can choose to do the push and prepare for the next attack.
The backhand push can also be used when returning serves in table tennis. Normally speaking, advanced players would avoid serving lots of topspin or no-spin balls as it’s super easy for the opponent to attack back. Thus, the backhand push controls the game’s pace and keeps the ball in play, even when faced with challenging serves. It can also set up opportunities for more aggressive shots later in the rally.
What is the difference between push and chop in table tennis
The push and chop shots in table tennis are both defensive shots that control the game’s pace and generate backspin. Both two shots have a similar brushing motion.
The major difference between the push and chop in table tennis is the contact point with the ball and the spin. The push is typically played with a brushing motion, making contact with the ball at the top of the bounce. On the other hand, the chop is played with a chopping motion, making contact with the ball after it bounces, usually on the backswing.
Another difference between the push and chop is the spin imparted on the ball. The push is usually played with a backspin, which makes the ball drop quickly and stays low over the net. On the other hand, the chop is usually played with a heavy sidespin or backspin, which makes the ball change direction dramatically and drop quickly.
In our previous blog, How to play chop in table tennis, we introduced the fundamental techniques of both forehand and backhand chops. However, chopping is quite a relevant advanced skill that not everyone necessarily needs to master. But the push is quite helpful and important for all table tennis players. No one is an exception!
How to do backhand push in table tennis?
Similar to the ready position of other shots, stand facing the line of play, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly distributed. Hold the racket in front of your body with your arm relaxed and slightly bent.
Keep your eyes on the ball and be ready to move to the ball and execute your shot. Stand close to the table. In fact, all four basic drills in table tennis are players near the table. I often see some players prepare for the pushes quite far from the table, which is incorrect.
When the ball is about to come, slightly raise the racket and move backward a little bit. But at the same time, move a small step forward, especially if the ball is short.
Remember to keep an open angle of the paddle. It is suggested to be facing upwards at a 45° angle to brush the ball. This angle is not an absolute requirement. Players can adjust it to change the spin and speed of the ball to confuse the opponent.
But for beginners, this angle is much easier to practice and master. It’s somehow like the forehand push. Once the players master this basic skill and have great ball feeling, they can adjust it according to the incoming ball and specific situations in the games.
Hit the ball
When the ball comes, strike the ball before the peak of the bounce. This will give you maximum control over the shot and allow you to produce the desired spin and trajectory. Don’t wait until the ball begins to fall down, as it’s easier to make mistakes and not easy to control the location and speed.
When striking the ball, keeping your movements smooth and controlled is essential, using the power generated from your backswing and body rotation. You should aim to make clean, crisp contact with the ball, using the sweet spot of your racket for optimal results.
Finally, follow through with your racket after striking the ball, keeping it pointing in the direction of your shot. This will help you to maintain control and consistency in your shots.
After striking the ball, you should step backward and restore quickly to prepare for the next stroke. The opponent might lift up or push back quickly to your other side. Thus, while rotating back toward the ready position, also keep your eyes on the ball to anticipate your opponent’s next move and respond accordingly.
Tips to improve the game
Use the power of the whole body
Some beginners struggle with incorporating their body movement into their shots, resulting in a stiff and rigid motion. This can result in a lack of power and control and a reduction in your ability to vary the spin on the ball.
Players should use their hips, torso, and shoulders to generate a smooth and fluid motion, allowing them to transfer energy from their bodies to the ball. This will make the backhand push a more versatile and effective shot.
Adjust the spin and speed
Players should focus on adjusting the angle of their racket and the amount of wrist action they use when playing the shot. For example, if you want to play a slower, more controlled shot with more backspin, you’ll need to use less wrist and a more closed racket angle. On the other hand, if you want to play a quicker shot with more topspin, you’ll need to use more wrist action and a more open racket angle.
This allows you to keep your opponent guessing and can help you to vary the pace of the game. This is actually what I usually talk about with my students. Table tennis is a sport with wisdom and strategy, not only relying on techniques.
In conclusion, the backhand push is a critical shot in table tennis that requires a combination of proper technique, control, and variety. Players need to master this drill to play the game in a complete way.
Also, the push is the basis of chop shots. When I first learned to chop, my coach told me that I didn’t need to think chopping was a too tricky technique. Instead, consider it a push with a larger motion.
In fact, after mastering the backhand and forehand push, players will have a better understanding of the spin in table tennis. Understanding the different types of spin, such as backspin and topspin, and how to apply them effectively through the push shots and drive shots is a crucial step toward becoming an advanced player.