Last Updated on October 25, 2023
Want to discover how to play table tennis smash? The forehand and backhand smash are important table tennis strokes to play when the ball is high enough. How your position, body, and bat transfer weight, strike and finish matters.
These two stroke styles are crucial components of any table tennis player‘s firepower, and we explain them in full here.
How To Play Table Tennis Smash?
When the other player plays the ball really high towards you in table tennis, you have the opportunity to strike fast and hard to drive him/her back away from the table and try to conclude the rally and pick up the point.
You can execute a forehand or backhand smash depending on how much time you have to get into position.
The forehand smash
The forehand smash is a shot you play when the ball is up at least shoulder-high. If the ball is lower than that, you’ll succeed with a forehand topspin.
The forehand smash is used to attack hard and fast to push the other player back away from the table while attempting to conclude the rally and pick the point.
Always use this stroke to counteract the other player’s lob (when they bounce the ball above the net).
However, this stroke is not solely about power. Timing, skill, and precision are essential to prevent the ball from missing the table when you perform a forehead smash.
The other player might counter your initial forehand stroke with another lob, meaning you may have to hit several forehand smashes.
Start position for the forehand smash
The position of your body and feet is crucial for the smash, as it is for nearly all table tennis shots. You should turn side-on as soon as you notice the ball coming to you high in the air.
If you are right-handed, position your left foot a little in front of the right foot and vice versa. Transfer most of your weight onto your back leg to build up energy for the stroke.
Set your bat in the starting position, which should be about shoulder height, with its flat side towards the other side of the table.
As you play the stroke and smash the ball, you should come down and forward while keeping your arm precisely behind the ball’s trajectory. Your finishing position should be in front of your head, towards your opponent’s end of the table.
Don’t hesitate to get into position when the ball is in the air. Many players make this error. You will wind up with an extremely awkward stroke and won’t be able to generate any power at all if you stand straight ahead and wait for the ball to come to you.
The Actual Smash
Smash the ball when it’s about shoulder high or at the top of its bounce. Alternatively, you could strike the ball right as it bounces above the net. While the latter is a riskier play, it will offer the other player less time to respond to your shot.
When smashing, be sure to shift your weight from your back leg onto your forward leg. This implies that while the ball is coming at you in the air, you should get sideways and shift your weight onto your back leg. As you make the smash, you should shift your weight onto your front leg to generate power and speed.
While at it, make sure the bat makes really flat contact with the ball. Avoid brushing motions because they merely produce spin. For speed, use a nice flat contact.
You don’t need to strike the ball too hard, especially if your position isn’t ideal. It’s acceptable to just hit the ball accurately and then wait for a better moment to smash it harder.
You should also avoid starting too high and finishing too low, dragging your bat down in the process and propelling the ball into the net.
Always begin your smash at or just above shoulder height, with your momentum moving forward instead of downward.
To recover from the action more quickly, avoid letting the racket pass your midsection. Finish by shifting your weight onto your front leg, then resume your ready position.
A backhand smash is a stroke that you can play when a ball comes to you really high. To hit the ball with a backhand shot, you must slightly rotate your arm across your body.
However, experts caution that you shouldn’t play this smash very frequently since if the ball is high enough to smash, you have enough time to turn around and play a forehand smash.
It’s simple to raise your forehand up high or low and adjust to the height of the ball when forehand smashing.
On the other hand, it’s challenging to alter the height of the smash on the backhand because your arm is moving across your face. A forehand smash allows you to get a bigger swing-through.
That said, occasionally, you may not be able to get side on in time for a forehand smash, and so we explain the backhand smash technique here.
Position yourself for a backhand smash
Get your bat back and up fairly high (shoulder high or around head high). Turn your body sideways, too, so you can get a little more rotation to generate with your stroke.
As the table tennis ball approaches, come through and make nice flat contact with it to get speed on the stroke.
Use flat contact to push the ball forward, and allow your wrist to be quite relaxed to generate more power and direction.
Avoid brushing contact because the ball won’t travel fast if you just brush it away. Always use a nice flat contact when smashing the ball.
Follow-through to send the ball in the desired direction. Allow your arm to travel all the way through and around. Return to your start position and prepare for the following shot.
Use the above guide to practice your forehand and backhand smash, and if you have any good points to add, hit us in the comments section. We’ll be glad to learn from your experiences, too.