How to Play Push in Table Tennis

Table Tennis Push, also known as the ping pong push, is one of the most underestimated skills among table tennis players. This is mainly because most table tennis players focus on the more “popular” skills like looping, flicking, and blocking (among other things).

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

The truth is that the table tennis push stroke is a critical skill that you need to master if you want to be a more rounded player. Once you have mastered it, you will find yourself in a better position to handle what your opponents throw at you.

The push takes two forms: the Forehand Push and Backhand Push in table tennis.

Let’s take a look at them.

Forehand Push

What is a Table Tennis Forehand Push?

Forehand push is a defensive stroke played by striking the ball downwards on the back and underneath the ball to create backspin. As the name suggests, this stroke mainly played from the forehand side. It is rare for table tennis players to play a forehand push with their backhand side.

The table tennis push technique is a good shot for handling offensive strokes. Because you could use it to alter how fast the ball moves in an exchange. It is also an excellent means of returning the ball at a very low height.

The forehand push is something of a foundation on which other forehand strokes are built. So once you have mastered it, you will be able to move on to the more advanced strokes since other forms of the forehand stroke are built on the same principles as the forehand push.

When should You Play a Forehand Push?

As we mentioned a few paragraphs back, the forehand push is one of those dual-purpose strokes in table tennis that could be both attacking and defensive. You could use it on the offensive when starting a rally. However, most times, it is used for returning short balls and handling offensive strokes.

One of the best times to use the forehand push would be when playing short and low, backspin, or float balls. If you are returning an opponent’s serve, a well-executed forehand push makes it difficult for your opponent to play strong attacking shots. Depending on the kind of play you are dealing with, you could either play the forehand push short or fast and long.

Regardless of the type of forehand push you use, the idea is to keep the ball over the table tennis at a slow speed with a bit of backspin so that you could easily counter strong attacks from your opponent.

How to Play a Forehand Push in Table Tennis?

The forehand push is not so easy to learn but also not impossible to master. It is one area beginners struggle with and even try to avoid. It may seem difficult at first but you can still master it.

How to play the forehand push?

  • StanceThe position you take is important when doing a forehand push because it affects how you hit the ball. You will need to stay in a forehand-ready position like the way it is done in the forehand drive. For right-handed players, you should place your right foot back and keep your knees slightly bent. You should also stay crouched while you have your two arms facing your front.
  • BackswingThe position for the forehand push is not very forceful but instead, you will be making a softer shot. When making this stroke, you need to use less weight power. However, you still need to add a little amount of backward rotation when preparing for the shot. You should keep your racket angle slightly open at 45 degrees also; make sure you have a small gap between your body and elbow. Your eyes should remain focused on the incoming ball while you keep your stance.
  • StrikeThe strike will require a bit of rotation towards the front and also the use of your body weight resting on your front foot. You may need some help with your playing foot especially if the ball is short. When you hit the ball, brush the ball instead of tapping it. You can leave your elbow slightly bent when taking the shot while at the same time rotating your body. Your racket angle should be open while taking the shot.
  • FinishThe point after you hit the ball should keep your racket facing the front of your body. While you do a backspin on the ball, your bat should face the table. The best way to finish is to follow the direction of the ball, so your bat will end up on the left-hand side. Your elbow should be placed in front of you slightly so you can take a swipe at the ball.

Learning to play the forehand push can be tricky for a beginner, but it will get more manageable when you are done with this part of the article. The tough nature of the forehand push is that it requires some rotation with the hips, torso, and shoulders.

Here are some Forehand push drills that might help learn how to play it:

Help learn points:

  • Start by close to the table tennis, standing square to the table in a small position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • You then flex your knees a little bit while leaning forward with your arms held out in front.
  • Keep the bat close to your strongest side at just below your chest height
  • When it’s time to strike the ball, turn your paddle so that the part that you use to hit the ball faces upwards. If you get this part right, the bat will be in an open angle with your playing arm in front of your body with the paddle held by a straight.
  • You want to bring your playing arm forward at the point of impact while getting the paddle forwards and down. Be sure that you generate power from your elbow and forearm. 
  • When you hit the ball, aim to brush the underside of the ball to generate a backspin. You also want to hit the ball when it is at its highest point while moving your body weight from your back foot to your front foot.
  • Make sure that your arm does not swing across your body. If you follow the steps to the letter, your paddle should finish in front of you, and it should be pointed in your intended direction for the ball.

Coach Tips:

  • Always stand close to the table with your right foot in front of you
  • Constantly assess the ball to be sure that it is an attacking shot before using the push stroke.
  • Relax your wrist
  • Keep your paddle open at all times
  • Always put your centre of gravity on your right foot  
  • Remember to aim for the bottom of the ball.
  • Always use the forehand push stroke for long balls. Try adding a forehand topspin for the best results.

Backhand Push

What is the Backhand Push in Table Tennis?

Most table tennis professionals consider the backhand push as one of the simplest strokes to learn. We will attempt a backhand push definition by saying that it is a fundamental yet defensive stroke. It played by hitting behind and underneath the ball to create some backspin. When properly executed, this makes it near impossible for your opponent to attack the ball.

The Backhand Push is a fundamental stroke because once you master it, you will find it easy to master the more advanced Backhand strokes like the Backhand Drive, the Backhand Loop, and the Backhand Flick.

Unlike its counterpart, the Backhand Push is often played from the backside of the table, and it is one of those strokes that can come in handy in any game.  You just need to know when and how to use it.

When Should You Play a Backhand Push?

The Backhand Push can also be used offensively and defensively, although it is mainly used in the latter context. Once you master it, you could use it in the attacking sense to play long and fastballs that can earn points when placed correctly.

However, the default application of the Backhand Push is a defensive stroke that is used to control the ball and make it difficult for your opponent to attack. We recommend that you use the Backhand Push when the ball already has backspin on it. Better still, you want to use it to counter short and low, backspin or float balls and the occasional long ball.

Now, you might be tempted to make the Backhand Push your default playing style where all your shots are pushes. That is fine. The caveat is that you might not win enough points depending on who you are up against; it is an essentially defensive stroke.

That said, you want to use the Backhand Push as a defensive stroke when playing against an attack-minded player. Thankfully, you will get the hang of this stroke as soon as you want. All you need is to practice some Backhand Push drills as often as possible. 

How to Do the Backhand Push in Table Tennis?

You could quickly master the Backhand Push shot once you get the stance right. As a matter of fact, getting the proper stance in Backhand Push in table tennis is one of the most essential table tennis Backhand Push drills you need to master. Here are some steps you need to take to learn how to do the Backhand Push:

One of the easiest strokes you can make in table tennis is the backhand push. The stance is quite similar to the position you take for the backhand drive.

How to play the backhand push?

  • StanceWhen playing the backhand push, your feet and body should be facing the line of play.
  • BackswingFor the backswing, your bat should be placed towards the back and slightly raised close to your chest. The racket angle should be facing 45° angle and your elbows bent.
  • StrikeThe strike should be between the back and bottom part of the ball. You will be pushing the racket forward and downwards from your elbow. You should brush the ball with the rubber and not tap it with the blade. The racket angle should be open while you take the shot. One mistake players make is when they try to scoop the ball instead of slicing at it.
  • FinishThe final part of the shot should leave your racket facing a downward direction. It should be facing the table and also your elbow angle should remain open while your arm is still slightly bent. You should avoid moving your body to one side when taking the push shot instead follow the direction of the ball.

Help learn points:

  • Stand close to the table with your feet splayed apart, with both of them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The idea is to keep your stance square to the line of play.
  • Try to keep your knees slightly bent with your torso leaning forward and both arms out in front of you. Stand in such a way that your weight is evenly distributed on the balls of your feet.
  • Lift your paddle backwards towards your chest with the wrist straight, and the angle at your elbow closed. This way, you can create a slightly open paddle angle.
  • When looking to hit the ball, play the shot directly in front of your body. Do this with your arm moving forward from your elbow towards the ball.
  • Keep the paddle angle open when you aim for the ball. Try to hit it at the top of the bounce while it is out in front of you. You could add more spin with this stroke by brushing underneath the ball when you hit it. To reduce the spin on the ball, hit more of the back of the ball than the underside.
  • After hitting the ball, allow your body to follow through with your paddle pointing in the direction you want the ball to go.

Coach Tips:

  • Avoid letting your playing arm swing across your body to the right after hitting the ball.
  • Pay attention to your stance all the time. Your footwork is just as important as your swing.
  • Always bring your paddle forward and downwards when hitting the ball in front of you.

Common Mistakes in Table Tennis Push

Common Errors with the Forehand Push

  • Overstretching your Arm: Most beginners make the mistake of straining their reach when playing the Forehand Push. Ideally, you want to keep your arms bent while playing this stroke. Avoid lunging directly at the ball and finishing the stroke with a straight elbow.
  • Swinging across yourself: Many beginners also make the mistake of playing the forehand push using a lunging motion that ends with their playing arm swinging across their bodies.
  • Not rolling with the movement: Playing the forehand push requires a little spin from your hips, torso and shoulders. Some beginners are too stiff to roll with their body motion.
  • Hitting the ball late: Some players play the ball after the peak of the bounce. Others try to hit it in line with or behind their bodies. Both scenarios are wrong because the stroke becomes difficult when you hit the in any of both ways.
  • Trying To Scoop the ball: Some players try to scoop the ball by hitting down the ball’s back and moving up the front of the ball. You can generate any backspin with this motion because it is the wrong way to hit the ball. The proper motion is to hit the ball in one straight line.

Common Mistakes With The Backhand Push

  • Swinging across yourself: Many players slice across when playing the Backhand Push. This often ends with them swinging across their bodies instead of following the ball after hitting it.
  • Poking the ball: There should be a “pushing” motion when you hit the ball. Some players try to do the Backhand Push by play short,  poking motions when they hit the ball.
  • Hitting the ball too early: This happens when a player tries to reach for the ball. They end up hitting the ball much too early, which causes the stroke to lose control and spin.
  • Hitting the ball too hard: Some players apply so much force to the ball when they hit it, and it often leads to a lack of control of the velocity and direction of the ball. 

FAQs

  • When Do I Use A Table Tennis Push?
  • It would be best to use a table tennis push to counter short and low, backspin or float balls, and the occasional long ball.

  • How Important Is My Stance When Playing The Table Tennis Push?
  • Your stance is critical because it determines your swinging and finishing motions which ultimately affect the quality of the stroke. Always pay attention to your footwork and how close you are to the table.

  • How Do I Play the Table Tennis Push?
  • Get your stance right. Then you keep your wrist loose and flexible so that the swing and follow-through can create enough backspin.

    The best strategy to play a table tennis game is to balance attacking strokes with defensive strokes. The table tennis push is primarily used in a defensive mode, and you need to master it to handle attacking play from your opponents. The table tennis push comes in two forms: the Forehand Push and the Backhand Push.

    It would be best if you mastered any of them(or even both) to be a complete table tennis player. There are drills and tips in this guide table tennis push that should make learning these strokes easier.

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