Forehand and backhand flicks in table tennis are methods used in returning short balls that you play to the side or middle of the table. These skills will help you drive a short serve back to the opponent and set you up to attack the next ball.
Forehand and backhand flicks aren’t skills that occur naturally. You can learn and master both techniques through continuous practice.
This guide shows you how to execute both flicks like an expert.
How to make a forehand flick in table tennis?
First, before jumping into basics, what’s a forehand flick?
What’s a forehand flick and its usefulness?
Table tennis forehand flick is an attacking return against a short serve from an opponent. To perform a forehand flick, you have to open your wrist to be able to attack the ball at its maximum height. This technique can help you alter your opponent’s speed as well as the direction of their spin.
When to use forehand flick ?
You should only use the forehand flick in short ball situations. You should only resort to it when an opponent returns a short serve or a swerve. When we say short ball, we are referring to a ball that bounces twice before exiting your end of the table.
How to play a forehand flick?
There are several techniques proposed by table tennis experts and coaches on how to execute a forehand flick. This technique dates back to the days when the game used to be known as “ping pong”.
Outlined here are the strategies you need to play a perfect forehand flick in the following steps:
i. Position your body
- The first drill to master when learning to execute forehand flick is body positioning.
- You have to get your body close to the table to stand a chance of returning a short pass.
- If you use the left hand, position your left foot directly under the table so your racket is just a few inches away from the net. However, for those who use the right hand, your right foot should go under the table.
- You should position your body in a way that moving your wrist will be unobtrusive.
ii. Push your wrist back
- Before making a flick, ensure your racket is far back from the ball.
- You should open your wrist in such a way that you can easily swerve your racket forward when it’s time to attack the ball.
iii. Hit the ball on the highest
- Hit the ball when it’s at its maximum bounce. Your best chance of landing a fierce attacking shot is after the ball makes the bounce with the table. When the ball is at its highest height, it’s easier to inject a lot of speed which pushes it above the net.
- However, when you attack the ball at a lower height, you will need a lot of energy to elevate it above the net. At a lower height, there is a higher probability of messing up your strokes which lands the ball against the net.
iv. Make flat contact with the ball
- At the start of your swing, you should stretch your racket forward so it makes a flat contact with the ball.
- Your swing should be a push-forward motion and not a lift-up movement.
- The higher the shot, the easier it’s for your opponent to counter with a fierce shot.
- Your goal is to push the ball closer to your opponent’s body at an awkward angle he won’t be able to return the ball with a shot.
v. Practice consistently
The forehead flick isn’t a strategy that you can master overnight. On your first trials, the balls will probably bounce against the net. A lot of people struggle to flip their ball over the net when you are just starting. However, with continuous practice, this will become your best trick for returning short strokes.
How to make a backhand flick in table tennis?
To do a backhand flick in the game of table tennis, you need to know what it is, when to use it and how to do it.
What is a backhand flick & its usefulness?
Unlike the forehand flick, the backhand flick uses a lot of wrist movements, making it easier to execute than the forehand flick. This technique works when dealing with short side spin and top-spin serves.
In general, they’re useful against serves made to the backhand side.
When to use backhand flick?
Backhand flick in table tennis are useful against aggressive short serves. It’s the best strategy to use when an opponent launches the ball short to your backhand side. You can use this type of flick to the countertop, bottom or no-spin pushes.
How to play a backhand flick ?
Executing a backhand flick doesn’t come out perfect the first time. Making the right stroke requires perfect timing which takes hours of practice.
However, you don’t have to be a world No 1 like Fan Zhendong to nail the perfect backhand flick. The skill is learnable and can be done in as little as 4 steps.
i. Hold racket loosely
- Your racket should be held loosely with the back of your hand facing the ball.
- A loose hold on the racket allows you to flick your wrist easily.
- You can switch the angle of your racket to suit the opponent’s spin.
ii. Switch your feet
- As you prepare to hit the ball, it’s important to balance your body. Usually, left-handed players are to move in with their left foot while right-handed players go in with the right. However, with a backhand flick, you will have to switch between both feet.
- The foot you move in with depends on the side of the table the ball lands. For balls that land on the inside of the table, you go in with the right foot. However, when your opponent pushes the ball closer to the extreme edge of the table, you have to move in with the left foot.
iii. When to launch
- Hit the ball at its highest peak. If you attack the ball too soon, there will be less accuracy and you will end up smashing the ball against the net. Also, contact between the ball and the racket should be flat to inject maximum speed on the flick.
- The more the speed, the easier it’s to catch your opponent off-guard as it will be difficult for him to control the direction of the ball.
iv. Type of Spin
- The angle of your racket during launch depends on the type of spin the opponent pushes the ball with. With a no-spin push, you return the ball with a flat contact. The same applies to sidespin.
- The angle of your racket changes when it comes to a topspin. You have to attack the ball with the top of your racket when your opponent pushes with a topspin. Most of the time, backhand flicks are dangerous against backhand spin.
- This is because you will have to apply extra effort to raise the ball over the net. This gives your opponent time to adjust their body and launch a fierce attack. However, the effectiveness of backhand flicks is at a minimum against left-handed players.
Forehand flick vs Backhand flick
- You can use both techniques to return short serves but one is more difficult to execute than the other. Modern table tennis players can use forehand flick occasionally because it requires less movement compared to the backhand flick.
- The backhand flick allows you to counter a shot made by your opponent at their weak backhand side. The disadvantage of backhand flip is that it leaves you exposed against left-handed players. The tennis player Ma Long has the reputation of catalyzing the weakness of opponents who make backhand flicks because it allows him to launch his attack from the opposite side.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when making both forehand and backhand flick skills.
- Left-handed players should always go in with their left leg, the reverse is the case for right-handed players
- Always attack the ball when it’s at maximum height (after the first bounce)
- Attack the ball with your racket using a simple push forward motion and not a lifting action
- Avoid smashing the ball when it’s at the same height as your net
- Move your wrist back before making a flick
- The movement of the foot under the table depends on which side of the table the opponent pushes the ball to
- Your racket angle depends on the type of spin
- Never hit the ball too soon, attack the ball at its highest peak
- Use flat push for better speed and accuracy
- Attacking a backspin with a backhand flick allows the opponent to counterattack.
My name is Cosmos Boll and I’m 26 years old. I’m Chinese and live in Shanghai.
I am a table tennis enthusiast and a professional table tennis coach.
My idol is Timo Boll who is the greatest player in the world.