Table Tennis is similar to many other sports where there are some fundamental or essential shots that you should know in order to practice and improve them. The main shots which I will explain through the course of this article are the counter-hit, block, loop, counter-loop, lob and pushing.
These terms may seem unfamiliar if you’re just starting out in the sport but don’t worry that’s to be expected and everyone needs to start somewhere. However, by the end of this article, I am sure you will a better understanding of what each shot requires.
Table Tennis Counter-hit
This is the most basic shot for a table tennis player to have in their arsenal. It is generally not often used during game play but is an essentially shot when warming up with your opponent. Basically you are hitting the ball with your forehand diagonally to your partner’s forehand which he reciprocates.
Table Tennis Block
The block is an important choice of shot for both the beginner and experienced player. The backhand block is the more commonly used shot out of the forehand/backhand. This is because players tend to counter loop on their forehand rather than block (which we will get to shortly).
Basically, you use the block to return a quick loop from your opponent. The block is basically a defensive shot, but if used correctly can be very devastating.
Table Tennis Loop
The “loop” is named according to the arching motion the table tennis ball makes as it travels through the air. Despite its strange name, the backhand and forehand loop is probably the most widely used shot in table tennis. It is further subdivided into “backhand loop” and “forehand loop” in which both shots you finely stroke the ball generating topspin. This topspin results in the arching motion of the ball and results in the ball “kicking” when it hits the table making it difficult for your opponent to return.
The other related shot, which often requires much more practice is the forehand/backhand counter loop in which you loop your opponents loop by adding your own spin back onto the ball. This can be another very effective shot if used correctly, but at the same time it has a high degree of difficulty.
Table Tennis Lobbing
During play there will be times when you are pushed back from the table resulting in you having to lob. Lobbing is when you hit the ball high into the air resulting in an elevated bounce when the ball lands on the table. Generally when lobbing you want to make the ball travel as high as possible with some added spin to the ball. This adds a degree of difficulty to the shot and increases the chances that the opponent will either mishit the ball into the net, or hit it off the table. Lobbing like most other table tennis shots requires a lot of practice in order to perfect the right bounce and spin to add to the table tennis ball.
Table Tennis Pushing
The push shot is when you get underneath the ball, stroking it finely and generating spin. It is often a defensive shot used to make it difficult for your opponent to loop the ball strongly back onto the table. Table Tennis pushing is further subdivided into short pushing and long pushing. Long pushing is what we discussed above where you push the ball long making it difficult for your opponent to loop. Short pushing is when you push the ball just over the net (i.e. the ball bounces twice) and is used to prevent your opponent from looping the ball. It is best described as a positional shot.
Generally, I have found that long pushing is the more commonly used shot amongst beginning players, but as you progress to a higher level in table tennis then you will find short pushing becomes essential.
If you have struggled to understand any of these concepts that I have outlined then I would suggest you consult or discuss what you are unsure of with a coach. If you are already being coached your table tennis coach would be able to show you personally how to play each shot.