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How to hit a backhand in table tennis

man and woman playing ping pong at the kitchen table

Hitting a backhand in table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a fundamental skill that every player should learn. A backhand shot is a stroke that is hit with the back of the racquet hand facing the direction of the shot. It is typically used to return balls that are hit to the player’s backhand side, or to surprise the opponent with a change of direction.

To hit a backhand shot, the player should start in a ready position with their feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and their weight distributed evenly on both feet. The racquet should be held in the non-dominant hand, with the thumb and index finger forming a “V” shape around the handle. The elbow should be slightly bent and the racquet head should be slightly above the level of the playing surface.

When the ball is approaching, the player should turn their body and hips towards the direction of the ball, using their legs and feet to generate power and momentum. The racquet should be swung in an upward arc, starting from below the level of the ball and ending above the head. The wrist should be snapped at the moment of impact, adding spin and speed to the shot. The racquet should follow through after the shot, ending up in a high position above the head.

It is important to keep the racquet head low during the backswing and to swing upward as the ball is hit. This will generate topspin, which is a type of spin that makes the ball dip and bounce forward after it hits the table. Topspin is especially important for backhand shots, because it allows the player to hit the ball with a greater margin of error and still keep it within the bounds of the table.

Another important aspect of hitting a backhand shot is the grip. The grip is the way the racquet is held in the hand, and it can greatly affect the power, control, and spin of the shot. The most common grip for a backhand shot is the backhand grip, also known as the continental grip. To use this grip, the player should place the base of the index finger on the bottom bevel of the racquet handle and wrap the other fingers around the handle. This grip allows the player to generate maximum power and spin on the shot.

In addition to the backhand grip, there are also other grip variations that can be used for backhand shots. The shakehand grip is similar to the backhand grip, but the index finger is placed on the top bevel of the handle instead of the bottom bevel. This grip is good for players who have a more flexible wrist and want to generate more spin on the shot. The penhold grip is another option, where the index finger and thumb are wrapped around the handle in a way that resembles holding a pen. This grip is more common in Asian countries and is good for players who want more control on the shot.

It is also important to practice and develop good footwork when hitting a backhand shot. Footwork is the way the player moves their feet and body to position themselves properly for the shot. Good footwork allows the player to reach the ball and hit it in the optimal position, with the right balance and timing. To practice footwork, the player can start by standing in the ready position and moving their feet to different positions on the court, simulating the movement of hitting a backhand shot.

Another important aspect of hitting a backhand shot is the timing. Timing is the moment when the racquet hits the ball, and it is crucial for the success of the shot. To improve timing, the player can practice hitting balls from a ball machine or with a partner.

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