How Do You Go After Short Balls?

Have you ever had a moment when everything was going well in a match until your opponent taps the ball short? When I first began playing table tennis, I used to have a lot of problems with the ball barely grazing over the net and seemingly dying 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; the next minute, you’re rushing to the table.

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

  • Incorrectly reading the spin on the ball
  • Trying to smash the ball
  • Having poor footwork

There are three things to keep in mind before returning the shot.

The first thing is to read what spin your opponent is putting on the ball. If there’s backspin, you can simply push it back.

But what if there is sidespin on the ball? If you don’t take a split second to check the other player’s racket, then how would you know what spin your opponent is putting on the ball? This is why reading your opponent’s spin is extremely important.

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 objective here is to not try to go for the point, but focusing 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 for your opponent to return the shot.

Finally, make sure you step back from the table to be ready for the next shot. Don’t just stand still and watch the ball bounce on the table.

Think like a boxer – make sure you continue moving around! Use your footwork. This is why you practice it. Your next return can be the shot where you can swing the ball past your opponent.

Read also: The Lawnmower Backhand Swing


Warren Davies

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