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Types of table tennis strokes

What are the Different Types of Table Tennis Strokes?

Table tennis strokes played to continue a rally in a game, are two types offensive and defensive. The intention of playing offensive shots is to force the opponent to commit a faulty or weak return. On the other hand, players use defensive strokes to recover themselves from an awkward position. It also depends on the playing styles. Though modern table tennis is dominated by aggressive players, players of a defensive nature can also compete at the top level with their playing styles and strategies.

Types of Table Tennis Strokes


  1. Drive
  2. Flick
  3. Smash
  4. Loop


  1. Push
  2. Block
  3. Chop
  4. Lob

Before learning the advanced shots i.e. Flick, Smash, Loop, Block, Chop, and Lob, make sure that you have gained enough expertise on the 4 basic table tennis shots. Also, make sure that you know the art of creating spin in table tennis.

Table tennis strokes can be of two types, forehand, and backhand. Forehand strokes are taken on the dominant side of the body, whereas backhand shots are played on the non-dominant side of the body. 

Drive Stroke

Drive, the fundamental stroke in table tennis

The forehand drive is the most fundamental stroke in table tennis for beginners to learn. It is played by moving your racket upward and forward pointing to the direction where you intend to place the ball. Your racket should face your opponent at an angle of 45° – 60°. Your focus should be to impart speed, not spin.

The Backhand drive technique has almost the same concept except it is played with a short arm action than the forehand drive. Though it is not as powerful as the forehand drive, it gives you the desired control to continue the rally.


Flick is an offensive shot that is very useful to attack a short backspin ball. It involves a quick snap of the wrist to generate a fast topspin shot. If executed properly, it can be an effective surprise attack to earn a point in your favor.

When you get a ball close to the net with a backspin, you can attack the ball by leaning over the table and flicking the ball with quick wrist action.


Smash, the most offensive stroke

It is the most powerful stroke in table tennis that puts your opponent on their back foot. It is most effective when a ball bounces at shoulder height and close to the table. Hit the ball hard at a steeper angle with your bat facing the direction where you want to bounce the ball. The object is to get the maximum speed with a flat contact.


Loop, the most used stroke in today's table tennis

The Loop is the most used stroke in today’s table tennis. It is a powerful topspin drive shot, executed by brushing at the top of the ball with a flexible wrist action. The high topspin forces the ball to travel at an elliptical trajectory and after bouncing, skids off the table with a higher speed.

The loop is a very effective shot to build consistency in your game. It is very useful to counter the long heavy backspin shots with an aggressive approach.

To improve the loop shot, you have to impart more speed and spin by brushing the ball with the proper racket angle and increasing racket speed.


Push, a basic table tennis shot

The push is a very fundamental shot that helps you to gain authority for mastering table tennis skills. It is a soft backspin stroke, executed by brushing underneath the ball. This defensive shot is very useful for returning short backspin serves. It is a control-oriented shot, the aim of which is to keep the ball low over the net to make it hard for your opponent to return.


The use of a block shot comes good when you receive a hard-hitting shot from your opponent. This defensive stroke absorbs the energy of your opponent’s shot and returns the ball quickly, without adding much additional spin or speed. A well-timed block places the ball out of your opponent’s reach.

The block stroke is played by using a short-arm action which looks like a shorter version of the drive shot. To execute it properly, stand close to the table with a square-on stance. Take the ball at the top of the bounce and place the ball on the other half of the table by taking advantage of the speed that you receive. The angle of your bat depends on the incoming topspin. The higher the amount of spin, the closer will be the racket angle.


Chop, the most used defensive stroke

Chops are defensive strokes primarily used to counter aggressive, high-speed shots from your opponents. It is a heavy backspin shot, played away from the table. The brushing action starts from the head height and ends at the knee height. The aim is to produce a low heavy backspin shot, making it difficult to attack. 

For returning a fast topspin ball, the brushing action will be downward and for slow topspin balls, it will be downward as well as forward.


The lob is a high, slow ball, often used as a last resort when pushed away from the table. When you are on the back foot, a well-placed high lob gives you the desired time to recover. Try to place it at the end of the table for an effective lob shot. If you lob the ball short, your opponent will smash it hard, making it difficult to return.

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