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Guide for basic table tennis shots for beginners

4 Essential Table Tennis Shots: Mastering the Basics for Beginners

Like in every field, in table tennis, learning of basics is a must to explore in the future. It’s important for beginners to start with the fundamentals to build a strong foundation in the game. The 4 essential table tennis shots, forehand push, backhand push, forehand drive, and backhand drive give them the platform on which they can excel in their techniques with advanced shots.

Prerequisite to Start Learning Basic Table Tennis Shots

Before you start learning basic strokes, you have to be well conversant with some very essential skills.

  1. You have to be acquainted with the proper holding technique. A wrong grip will restrict stroke-making capabilities.
  2. Footwork is another area where you have to work regularly to be good at table tennis. 
  3. You also need to know the concept of spin in table tennis, which will help you to bring more effectiveness and accuracy to your shots. The push (Forehand & Backhand) shot needs brushing under the ball to get the desired backspin.

4 Basic Table Tennis Shots

Backhand Push→ Forehand Drive→ Backhand Drive→ Forehand Push

Beginners should start with the backhand push as it is the easiest to adopt and end with the forehand push, relatively more difficult to execute than the other three strokes.

After performing each stroke, you should return to your ready/ base position to prepare for the next shot.

All the below explanations are for right-handers. For left-handers, all actions will be just the reverse.

Backhand Push

Backhand push, one of the basic table tennis shots

The concept of the backhand push is to create the required backspin by the brushing action under the ball. It is a defensive shot, taken on your backhand side.

  • Stand close to the table with your upper body leaning slightly forward.
  • Hold the racket in front of your body.
  • The backhand side of the racket is open with a little angle so that it points toward the net.
  • As the ball approaches, step towards it and use a short, controlled pushing motion to cut underneath the ball.
  • Your forearm should move in a horizontal plane than your elbow.
  • Your wrist should be flexible enough to create the brushing action.
  • Your push should be soft enough to keep the ball on the table.
  • Focus on precision and timing, aiming to return the ball low over the net and close to the opponent’s end line.

Forehand Drive

Forehand drive table tennis stroke

The forehand drive, taken on the dominant side of your body, is one of the most fundamental shots in table tennis, allowing you to generate power and control.

  • Start with a proper stance, with your feet should be wider than your shoulder and knees slightly bent.
  • Your left leg will be slightly ahead of your right leg. This side-on stance helps swing your racket freely.
  • Initially, your weight will be on your right foot.
  • Hold the racket with a relaxed grip and position it next to you.
  • Your upper arm and forearm should take an “L” shape with your racket facing the opponent’s end at an angle of 45°- 60°.
  • As the ball approaches, move your bat upward and forward pointing to the direction where you intend to place the ball.
  • Hit the ball before the top of the bounce.
  • Transfer your body weight from the right leg to the left leg.
  • After striking the ball, follow the racket up to the head level (approx. 30 cm in front of your head).
  • Your non-racket hand takes the supporting role to balance your body.

Backhand Drive

Backhand drive, one of the basic table tennis shots

The backhand drive is similar to the forehand drive but executed on the opposite/ non-dominant side of the body. It is not as powerful as the forehand drive, but a must-to-learn technique to continue the rally and control your shots.

  • Adopt a balanced stance, with your body facing the table and your non-playing hand supporting your balance.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent with your body weight on your toes.
  • Keep your elbow slightly bent and your wrist firm but flexible.
  • Your both hands should be in front of your body
  • The backhand side of your racket must face your opponent.
  • Hold the racket at an angle of 45° – 60°
  • As the ball approaches, pivot on your back foot, rotating your hips and shoulders to face the table.
  • Swing your arm forward and upward maintaining the racket angle to contact the ball at the right moment.
  • Aim to hit the ball with a flat trajectory, focusing on accuracy and control.
  • After striking, continue to follow so that the striking length and follow-up length is nearly the same.

Forehand Push

Forehand push, one of the basic table tennis strokes

Like the backhand push, the forehand push is also a defensive shot that allows you to return low and short balls effectively. It is also very useful to return short serves.

  • Position yourself slightly closer to the table, with legs placed wider than your shoulder.
  • Hold the racket with a relaxed grip
  • The forehand side of the racket should be open to create the desired backspin.
  • As the ball approaches you, move your right foot and your body to get close to the ball.
  • Push the ball with a short, controlled stroke, focusing on a smooth and gentle touch.
  • Keep your wrist relaxed throughout the shot for an effective brushing action.


Mastering the basic table tennis shots is essential for beginners to build a solid foundation in the game. By practicing these strokes, you will improve your control, accuracy, and consistency. Your expertise in basic shots gives you the confidence for learning advanced shots like forehand topspin, forehand loop, backhand topspin, backhand loop, forehand, and backhand chop. 

Also, don’t neglect to focus on proper technique, footwork, and consistency in your practice sessions.

Related Topic: “What are the Different Types of Table Tennis Strokes?

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