How to Play Block in Table Tennis

Table tennis block is one area that most players struggle with. However, if you want to be good at this game, you need to practice blocking more. With regular practice, you can learn the basics of blocking and become a pro at the game.

But if you are still a beginner player, it is recommended to learn the “Beginner’s Guide” first.

There are many types of blocking in table tennis, and we will be looking at them later on in this article. We will give you the step by step guide on how you can conveniently do a successful blocking technique and surprise your opponent.

What is a table tennis block?

Table tennis block is a technique played to control an attacking shot. Most blocks come as fast returns from a shot received and there is a way to block every shot whether it’s a backhand drive or even a spin serve. To successfully block a tennis shot, you have to time your response accurately.

Why is Blocking Important?

There are many reasons why blocking is vital to any match play in table tennis. However, the most important reason is that it prevents your opponent from winning. It also allows you to gain more control of the ball and use it to your advantage to win the game.

How to block in table tennis?

Like we mentioned earlier, there are different types of table tennis blocks. However, the basic strokes are the forehand block and the backhand block. You can make other advanced blocking shots, like blocking a table tennis smash and returning a topspin serve.

How to play forehand block

The forehand block is one of the best defensive shots you can play in table tennis. This shot allows you to gain control of the quick shots coming from your opponent. The forehand block comes in handy when you just received a strong topspin serve or counterattack and don’t have sufficient time to send a stroke to your opponent. You can also use the forehand block in training drills, and it is one shot you need to master.

To play the forehand block, you need to learn the following steps:

  • Stand very close to the table and keep your stance facing the line of play.
  • Keep your leg close to the table and place your right leg a little further back.
  • Bend your knees so you can lower your centre of gravity.
  • Start with a short-stroke by moving your racket arm from the elbow slightly upwards following the horizontal plane.
  • Your free arm should also be pointed in the same horizontal direction as your racket arm to keep your balance.
  • Hit the incoming ball as it approaches (i.e. after it has bounced on the side of your table).
  • You will need up to 50% of your stroke action at a slightly closed racket angle to hit the ball and also an equal amount of effort after hitting the ball.
  • The racket angle should be calculated based on the impact of the topspin serve from your opponent.
  • If the force is stronger, you will need a more closed racket angle to block the shot.
  • Ensure that your body movement is minimal for accuracy.

Coach Tips:

  • Use the shot only when the ball seems to be coming very quickly.
  • The main purpose of the forehand block is to give a surprise attack when your opponent is not prepared to take another shot.
  • Make sure your shot lands away from your opponent’s direction and close to their sideline.

How to play backhand block?

Table tennis backhand block technique, is a defensive shot that allows you to control the speed of the incoming shot. It is used as a defensive shot for spin shots. The backhand block is different from the backhand chop but instead, it helps you block strong topspin or counterattack from an opponent within a short time.


  • Keep your position close to the tennis table and make sure you are facing the end of the line.
  • Lift your left leg slightly in front of the right leg and bend your knees.
  • You will need to use a short stroke by lifting your racket arm away from your elbow upwards in a horizontal direction.
  • Your free arm will also be facing the direction of your racket arm to create balance.
  • When you hit the incoming ball, ensure that your body is also rising at a closed racket angle.
  • You also need to use 50% of your stroke action to hit the incoming ball.

Coach Tips:

  • Ensure that the ball lands on the opposite side of your opponent and close to their baseline.
  • You should take advantage of the element of surprise, keeping your timing accurate.

How to block smash in table tennis?

One technique you need to learn in table tennis is how to return a smash. The blocking technique will depend on the type of smash you get from your opponent.

The best way to block is by analyzing the return direction. You will need to work with different angles and lines of play to ensure you force a weak counterattack from your opponent.

Three techniques work to block a smash in table tennis is, the short and long push, and flick return:

  • Using the short push method. You need to move closer to the table and keep a low stance.
  • Make sure your arms are relaxed but are pointing towards the direction of the ball for balance.
  • Keep your wrists loosened and lean over the table.
  • Hit the ball using a long shot before it gets to the top of the bounce.
  • The long push method is very similar to the short push, but you will need to strike the ball faster and longer, aiming at the cross over point.

Coach Tips:

  • You use the short push method to make the ball bounce twice to prevent the opponent from playing a smash attack.
  • The long push method works to surprise the opponent and forces them to play a weak stroke.
  • The flick return makes your opponent retreat and is best to use when you get a short ball or in a rally.

How to block topspin serve in table tennis?

The topspin serve is one of the most strategic attacks you get in table tennis. The attacking stroke makes the ball hit the table earlier and even more steeply, bouncing in a flatter curve. You can easily block this stroke using a neutral racket.

There are two ways you can block a topspin serve:

  • Stand close to the table, keeping your racket at a closed angle to block the high bounce and instead play the topspin serve yourself.
  • If the ball spins more, you will need to tilt the paddle.
  • To block the attacking shot, move a few steps away from the plate to get a longer reaction time.

Coach Tips:

  • You should interpret your opponent’s movement accurately before you block the topspin.
  • The purpose of blocking the attack is to control the ball; make sure you play with an undercut in a higher arc.
  • When you control the ball, it surprises your opponent and makes them play a ball that ends up bouncing very high and then you can make the topspin serve yourself.

Key Points

There are several tips you should know so you can get better at blocking in table tennis. One point to remember is always to include blocking and control drills while you practice on your own. Here are some other tips to help you improve your skills:

  • Ensure the racket head is facing upwards and also in a slightly vertical position.
  • Keep your stance right by controlling your shoulders and ensuring they face the direction of where you intend to direct the ball.
  • If the incoming ball spins more, keep your racket angle closed, while a lesser spin should keep you at an open angle.
  • Allow your fingers and thumb to grip the racket head tightly. Rest your arm but ensure your body is relaxed and your weight is forward.
  • Don’t hit the ball too hard but instead take advantage of the speed and spin of the ball.

Block for topspin:

What is the Effect of Topspin?

A topspin loop makes the ball bounce in a flatter curve to give an opponent an incredible win. It is one of the perfect attacking strokes in a table tennis game. You can block the topspin serve by taking control of the ball so that the opponent doesn’t get the opportunity to make the topspin.

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