The Styles of Table Tennis Players

When playing opponents, there are many styles from different table tennis players that you may be exposed to. These styles vary as to how they play the game.

A style of play in table tennis is simply a strategy used to win a point. In this sense, it’s best that you know what style you’re faced with before a match. However, many times you won’t be able to know until you’re actually playing.

Examples of Different Styles of Table Tennis Players

Here are some examples of players using various styles and how to play against them…

There are three types of players: aggressive, control, and defensive.

Harimoto Tomokazu image source: Wikimedia

Aggressive Type

An aggressive table tennis player typically plays with the table up close. They will try to pick up the ball right after the bounce. It makes for a faster-paced game. You can slow down the game by chopping the ball more. It should keep him from attacking as much.

Aggressive in forehand attack

Players who are good at forehand attack often use footwork to move and hit the ball by forehand. Therefore, curbing the opponent’s footwork movement becomes a strategy to beat the opponent.

Although it is more dangerous to return the ball to the opponent’s forehand, most players consciously move to the backhand.

So focus on attacking the opponent’s forehand first, and then hit the opponent’s backhand when they are not expecting. In this way, the opponent may not be able to move at the right time, and the return ball’s quality will not be good enough.

Besides, the cooperation of long and short balls is also very effective. Because the long ball is often of topspin, so use the short ball or flick to make the opponent move close to the table and attack his backhand.

Aggressive in backhand attack

Those who are good at backhand attack often use backhand to catch the ball from the center of the table to the forehand range near the right foot.

If you continuously attack a position near the right foot of a good person at the backhand, the opponent’s position will gradually be biased toward the center of the table. If you suddenly hit the opponent’s backhand at this time, it will make the opponent unexpected.

Tactic: first forehand, then backhand

Aggressive in forehand and backhand attack

Those who are good at both forehand and backhand make few mistakes. If you are playing aggressively with such players, you may fall into the trap if you can’t play faster than your opponent.

It would help if you played more close to the table and doing more loops and drives to the front of the net.

Control Type

A player who utilizes control in his shots won’t take any chances. Their main goal is to keep the ball in play simply. Set this player up by alternating your shots with varying speeds, spins, and placements.

The premise for a player with a control type is that they need to have a certain playing skill level. They will need to drop the ball accurately to the position they want the ball to be.

The skill they have can be supported by the ideas that they have in ​​their brain. This type of playing style is not very positive. It is mainly based on defensive and mobilization, and waiting for the opponent to make mistakes to score the point.

There should be no control style player in a professional team. Because if you don’t attack, you will find it is rather hard for you to score a point in the match.

The professional team can’t survive with such playing. Control is a factor that exists in any play.

It would be best if you got an excellent racket so that you can have a good feel. By then, only you can get reasonable control with your play.

If you have reasonable control, you can manage your forces well when playing close to the table. You will have a clear offensive feel.

Control and offensive are often inversely proportional to each other. If you get a racket with good speed and spin, then you will have less control. If you need to play with more control, you will need to sacrifice the speed and spin.

Defensive Type

Defensive players’ primary strategy is to outlast their opponents by simply returning the shot until a mistake is made. They also try to minimize their own mistakes in the process. Since they usually don’t stand close to the table, play your shots closer to get him off rhythm.

If your opponent plays loop with you, you need to be at least able to defend 7 or 8 strokes and then think about how to put additional force to your shot.

If you want to play defensively, you don’t be afraid of your opponent driving the ball. You need to be confident with yourself and defend all the drives from your opponent. Don’t panic quickly and train to defend the ball and return it to better drop points for every shot you return.

The most important thing is you don’t’ get nervous when playing defending. If you start to get nervous, your defending will collapse, and your opponent will easily beat you up.

Read also: Defenders – Deceive or Die.


The state of self-preparation is standing on the backhand side. When the opponent loops to the forehand, it is necessary to move to the forehand defense.

But you need to pay attention to the move. For a ball that is not very angled, you can step on your right foot. The left foot does not need to move, and the body keeps up with it so that you can back to your position faster. It would help if you only put on some pivot on your right foot.

If the left foot is almost off the ground and you put all your pivot on the right foot, you will be slow to go back to position, and your opponent can quickly scoring by simply do a shot with his backhand.

Drop Point

When you can defend 7 to 8 strokes, you should consider how to hit the ball to a drop point accurately. You cannot keep on defending by hitting the ball to the same drop point as your opponent already adjusted his position and footwork right to return your shot.

So after a few strokes, you need to start shifting the drop point so that your opponent will need to keep on adjusting his strokes and footwork as well.

Stay close to the table.

You can only have a good defense by playing close to the table, like that you can better suppress the spin and the arc. Also, when playing a close defense, you can better control the countertop and leverage your opponent’s forces.

Therefore, when defending, you must have an awareness of always stay close to the table and don’t step too far away.

Other Styles of Table Tennis Players

There are also other styles to consider, including counter drivers, choppers, blockers, loopers, and penholders.

Counter Drivers

Focus more on using heavy spin as they’re more comfortable compared to light spin.

The combination of the arc with the counter-drive is one of the table tennis playing styles. This playing style refers to the station from close to the mid-distance of the table. It uses the arc shots as the primary scoring method by combining the counter-drive.

The technique used is having a fast and spinny shot with a different trajectory of the ball. This playing style is suitable for both shakehand and penhold players.

Shakehand players are generally focused on the quick push and counter-drive. The backhand of the shakehand players can counter-drive from the opponent’s shot.

The feature of the counter-drive is that the spin is strong, and the speed is fast. The offensives of the forehand and backhand are strong.


Choppers should be played by using patience with your attack. Since they succeed the best when their opponents try foolish things, change your approach with deep loops and short pushes down the middle. Many times you will get a ball high enough for you to smash it.

The formation and development of the chopping style have a more extended history than the other types of play in table tennis.

As early as the early 1930s, due to rubber rackets’ appearance, the friction of hitting the ball was enhanced. In Europe, the style of chopping was gradually formed.

The early chopping defense was relatively stable and not easy to make mistakes. Therefore, from the 1930s to the 1940s, it has been in the world table tennis’s leading position.

In the early 1950s, Japanese players used sponge glue to come out with the attacking techniques. This broke through the European defense line and creating a confrontation between offense and defense.

After entering the 1960s, with the rise of China’s close fast table attack and European arc ball technology improvement, the European chopping style was started to be passive.

After repeated practice, Chinese players have strengthened the chopping ball’s rotation change, improved the counter-attacking ability, revolutionized the racket, and gradually formed Chinese characteristics with a combination of a variety of counter-attacks attack, blocking, and chopping.

With the further improvement of the arc ball technology and its extensive application, the chopping playing style becomes less and less popular.

For the chopping and defensive players to win a specific position in the world table tennis, they will need to actively improve the spin for their chop based on enhancing the arc ball. At the same time, you will need to have the ability to do a counter-attack when seeking chances.


Blockers try to maintain a rhythm. It would help if you broke this by varying your shot. For example, hit one deep with speed and then follow it up with a short shot. Since they use the power generated from a shot to return it, don’t try to smash it all the time.

Light blocking

The ball speed is slow, the power is light, the movement is relatively simple, and it is easy for beginners to master. It can help beginners become familiar with the ball’s bounce direction and rhythm and improve the ability to control the ball.

Blocking is one of the basic techniques in table tennis. Beginners should form the correct action. When taking a shot, the upper arm should be close to the body. The forearm need stretches to get close to the ball. The wrist and fingers need to adjust with the shape of the blade. Exert the force of the index finger and relax the thumb.

Fast blocking

The characteristics of fast blocking are:

  • The player needs to stand close to the table.
  • The movement is small.
  • Borrowing the opponent’s forces to return the shot.
  • Speed needs to be fast.
  • We need to keep on changing the drop points.

It is suitable for counter-attacking general drive, push, and medium-power attack. The stalemate can take advantage of the fast return speed, block, and push the ball to the two corners of the table. You can take advantage to create a good situation for your offense to attack the gap from your opponent. It is the most commonly used technique for blocking the ball.

Get your body close to the table before hitting the ball. It would be best if you retracted your forearm as well. During the forward push of the forearm, the wrist movement should not be too large. The key is to block inappropriate time.


Loopers tend to be aggressive, so you must show the same aggressiveness. Make sure to work the middle instead of the sides to keep them away from their strengths.

They stand very close to the table and exert the opponent’s power from the return shot to hit back the ball. The return speed is fast. The stability of the push is also very high.

If you chop the ball a little higher, they will be flick and drive close to the table if you try to give them long balls or change the drop points.

Suppose you need to play faster and more stable than them, or else you will be beaten up. But once they retreat to mid or far from the table, their weaknesses are exposed (such as a weak backhand or problem with the arc).

If you make a backspin, they will flick the ball and compete with you on the loop. This playing style can’t beat the professional players, but it can beat many amateur players.


Penholders will almost always work from their forehand. You would think that by playing the ball towards their backhand, they wouldn’t be able to hit it, but think again. Their footwork allows them to get into position. Focus on moving the ball by playing the ball wide, preferably to their backhand. Alternate what spots you’re aiming towards to keep them off balance.

Knowing what kind of player you’re facing is crucial. I hope this summary of the different styles of table tennis players will help you.

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Warren Davies

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