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How to Go After Short Balls?


Have you ever had a moment when everything was working well in a match until your opponent taps the ball short?

When I first began playing table tennis, I used to have major trouble when the ball barely grazes over the net and seems to die right on the spot.

short ball

The short ball can be bothersome, especially if you like to play away from the table. For defensive players, this can be a nightmare. One minute you’re chopping or pushing, and the next minute, you’re rushing the table.

Too many players seem to have problems with this type of shot. The problem lies in either you:

  • Incorrectly read the spin on the ball
  • Trying to smash the ball
  • Have poor footwork

However, there are three things to keep in mind before returning the shot.

The first thing is to read what spin your opponent put on the ball before the shot is taken. You know if there’s backspin, you can simply push it back.

But what if there’s sidespin on the ball also? If you don’t take a split second to check the other player’s racket, then how will you know what spin to counteract it? This is why reading the spin is more than fundamental.

Next, you want to approach the shot with your racket low on the table. This allows you to get under the ball.

Hit the ball back using the flip of your wrist. Concentrate on returning the shot with finesse instead of power.

The object here is to not try to go for the point but to focus on positioning yourself for a setup. Look to place the ball deep into a corner or aim towards your opponent’s body. This makes it harder to return the shot back towards you.

Finally, make sure you step back away from the table to be in a ready position for the next shot. Don’t just sit there and watch the ball bounce on the table.

Follow the advice of a boxer, stick, and move! Use your footwork. This is why you practice it. The next return can be the shot where you can cream the ball past your opponent.

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