Once you've mastered your basic forehand and backhand drive techniques you need to start combining the two together in a rally.
The following video drill demonstrates the FH/BH combo and is taken from The Professional Bundle of online table tennis training offered by Coach Tao Li - exclusive to Table Tennis University.
This drill might appear simple but even the top professional players will perform this kind of training at the start of a session to get their shots feeling good and their feet moving.
Here are five key points to remember...
1. Don't change your grip
Check that you aren't changing your grip when switching between forehand and backhand strokes. You might not even realise that you are doing this but lots of beginners do it subconsciously.
In tennis players are encouraged to have a different grip for the forehand and backhand. Unfortunately, table tennis is simply too fast a sport to be able to make any major grip changes between strokes.
Some players will raise their thumb when playing a backhand but that's about all you can get away with. You certainly shouldn't be rotating the angle of the racket handle in palm.
2. Side shuffle into position
You might be tempted to just stand flat footed in the middle of table and reach across to play your forehand and backhands. But don't!
You'll get much more out of this training drill if you continue to use the side shuffle footwork we shared last week to get yourself into the perfect position for each stroke. In the video, you see that Tao performs a side shuffle in between each and every shot he plays. This is very important.
If you are struggling to move just ask your practice partner to place the ball a little wider into the corner of the table. This will force you to move.
If your movement feels awkward and unnatural you may need to go back to shadow training and make sure you have perfected the basic side shuffle in both directions before returning to this rally drill.
3. Keep a closed racket angle
During the video, Tao mentions the all-important 45 degree racket angle. Playing your forehand and backhand drives with a closed racket angle will force you to use good technique and add some topspin to your strokes.
It is bad technique to simple 'tap' or 'pat' the back of the ball. Instead, you should always be 'stroking' the ball and swinging your racket with a slight upward trajectory. Sometimes new players forget this once they start thinking about combining strokes and moving their feet.
Remember... stroke it, don't poke it!
4. Adjust the positioning of your feet
In the demonstration, Tao is playing into the backhand feed of a left-handed partner. The direction of the feed will require small changes to your foot positions.
For example, in the video Tao was able to play with his feet quite square to the table for both the forehand and backhand. However, if the feeder had been using his forehand to control the rally Tao would have needed to get his feet quite side on for the forehand drive.
It's important to bear these small adjustments in mind otherwise you'll find your strokes feeling awkward and you may end up making unforced errors due to poor foot placement.
5. Switch roles with your practice partner
Some players find it boring to be the 'feeder' and control the rally for their partner. This is a wrong way of looking at it.
When you are the feeder you actually have a very good opportunity to improve your control and accuracy. In fact, many new players find it more difficult to be the feeder than the player doing the drill. That's why it's important that you switch roles and have a go at doing both.
It's also a good idea to practice controlling the rally with both your forehand and backhand. This will change the drill slightly for your partner too - giving them a new target to aim towards.
More drills from Tao
This video is Drill #33 of 148 drills included within The Professional Bundle - Tao's revolutionary online training program that will transform you into a professional table tennis player in just 52 weeks.
The Professional Bundle is the best and most comprehensive online table tennis training program in existence!
Don't believe us? Check out the full curriculum here. It contains;
- TTU Weekly Lessons - 52 video lessons and training schedules
- TTU Drill Demonstration - 148 drills for you to practice
- TTU Coach Q&A - 60 questions from real TTU students
And there's more! The Professional Bundle also includes...
- Basics Mastery
- Service Mastery
- Forehand Loop Mastery
- Backhand Loop Mastery
- Forehand Smash Mastery
- Xtreme Footwork Conditioning
- Xtreme Explosive Power
That's 10 separate training courses and over 30 hours of high-quality table tennis instruction, covering absolutely everything you need to know to become an elite table tennis player.
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