I Need Help With My Footwork and Forehand Topspin

Submitted by Thinh Tran
(Fort Worth, Texas, USA)

My name is Thinh Tran and I live in Fort Worth, Texas, USA.

I am 40 years old and I started playing table tennis about 16 months ago.

I am kind of a beginner player but I would like to become an intermediate player.

I like to play as an attacker.

At first I used a Butterfly Amultart ZL Carbon Blade with Butterfly Tenergy 64FX or Butterfly Spin Art rubber but this racket is kind of too fast for me and I used to hit the ball off the table (more power, but less control).

Then I bought a new racket. The blade is a 5 ply allround and the rubber is Xiom Pro.

With this racket I can control the ball very good. The speed is slow but I want to stay with it since it makes me play with more confidence.

I've played almost every day since I started and I spend about 1½ to 2 hours playing per day.

I tried to correct my form, stroke and drill, but when I play a match I almost lose the game.

I have two main problems that cause me to lose the game...
1) the first problem is return the serve (I will ask you next time)
2) the second problem I want to ask you now is about my forehand loop (or smash)

I practice 5 days at home using the robot and play matches at the weekend.

The robot helps me a lot to correct the stroke, but it causes a lot of problems when I play match.

One of them is the forehand attack (loop or smash).

My video will show you how I play the forehand.

The video is about 3 mins - first 30 seconds I play the block stroke, second 30 seconds I play forehand counterhit, third 30 seconds I play forehand loop.

Then I play backhand block and forehand topspin loop.

The video will show I play just fine for 30 seconds as I play against the robot, then the next 30 seconds just demonstrates how I play in a match.

I lose balance, my hand reaches too far, but I can touch the ball.

I believe I don't move fast enough and I try to reach the ball too far from my body, and I think I try to hit it too hard. That causes me to lose my balance for the next ball.

I tried to practice a lot of drills that help the footwork and forehand loop, but it has not had a big change.

Please let me know how I can practice to improve my forehand loop.

The most confusing aspect for me is my feet position. Most of my friends told me that the right foot must be about 1½ feet behind the left foot. But most of the training videos I see recommend that my feet should be side by side, as that helps you play forehand and backhand better.

Please, review my video and let me know what will be better for me.

Thanks for your help.

Thinh Tran

Here is my video...

----- Martin's Reply -----

Thinh Tran,

Thanks for submitting your question and your video.

Firstly, I'd like to congratulate you - You say that you've only been playing table tennis for about 16 months, and yet you look like you've been playing much longer than that. Your forehand stroke generally looks good.

However, I agree with your analysis of your main problem.

The occasions when you mis-time your forehand is when you have poor footwork and you've not got back into the correct position.

You can see that your body is too far over to the backhand side of the table and therefore you are reaching for the ball.

My advice / tips are as follows...

1) You are standing very close to the table. If you step back slightly you would give yourself a bit more time to play your strokes and recover.

2) Make sure that you move forward into your forehand strokes. Towards the end of the video your body becomes more static and you are just using your arms to play your strokes.

3) To improve your footwork, change your drill from playing alternate backhand and forehand strokes to playing all forehand strokes. So instead of playing a backhand block followed by a forehand topspin, play all forehand strokes - one from the backhand side of the table, and one from the forehand side. This will mean that you'll have to move your feet side to side.

Take a look at the video on my web site which demonstrates the side to side footwork pattern

But remember, you should play all forehand strokes.

Also, take a look at this page on my web site which discusses Recovery and Anticipation

And take a look at this page on my web site which discusses practice drills you can use

4) Feet position. There are two different methods you can use. If you stand with your feet side by side, you'll be able to switch between forehand and backhand strokes more easily, but you'll lose power and possibly accuracy in your strokes. There is a possibility that your strokes will go off the side of the table if you strike the ball too early or too late.

If you stand with your right foot slightly further back from your left foot, you'll be able to play more powerful forehand strokes but you may have problems when you have to quickly change to play a backhand stroke.

The best players have their right foot slightly further back and use good footwork to try and play all forehand strokes.

I hope that helps you.


Return to Get Personal Table Tennis Coaching.

^ Top of page ^

^ Top of page ^

How this site is financed

AllAboutTableTennis.com (AATT) is completely free to use.

However, it's run by one person only (Martin Hughes) and has high running costs that need to be paid for.

This web site receives thousands of visitors every day and therefore, to keep it completely free to use, advertising and affiliate links appear on this web site.

However, these adverts and affiliate links do not influence the advice and recommendations given on this web site.

My intention has always been to give you the best possible information, advice and recommendations, based on my 50+ years involvement in the sport.


Adverts appear automatically on my site, provided by third parties, and are not directly controlled by me.

When you click on an advert, it's tracked to AATT and will generate a small payment to me.

Affiliate links*

Affiliate links are links to other web sites who sell related table tennis products.

These work in the same way as normal links, but when you click on it, the link is tracked to AATT and, if you make a purchase, may generate a small payment to me.

They do not cost you anything to use, and any products you choose to buy will not cost you any more than if you went directly to that web site.

These are principally links to Megaspin, Amazon and Bribar, but may include others from time to time.

These links are identified by having an asterisk (*) by its side.

AATT cannot identify any user who clicks on an advert or affiliate link.