Trying To Improve My Backhand Topspin

This question about the backhand topspin was submitted by
Richard Genet from New South Wales, Australia

Table tennis questions

Hi Martin,

I'd like some coaching advice about my backhand topspin please.

I'm known in my club for having a weak backhand, so it's targeted during matches and critical points.

I've been doing self-analysis with a ball machine and camera.

Here's a short video...

I believe the main problem was a lack of stability in my backhand arm movement.

Lot of vertical movement in my elbow, trying to lift the ball to generate topspin.

Ingrained habit for many years, so hard to correct!

What I've been focusing on is:

  1. Keeping my elbow relatively still; out to the side and slightly forward. (Timo Boll seems to have his elbow permanently well out to the side on his backhand)

  2. The stroke then created by rotating my forearm about my elbow.

  3. Start with my racket (bat/paddle) at my stomach and finish out in front.

  4. Some cocking of the wrist at the backswing, but not worrying about the wrist too much at this stage. Keeping wrist relaxed and trying to stabilize the forearm movement.

  5. Also, relax my shoulders as I noticed if tense in my shoulders they rise up during the stroke which makes it all less stable.

I still don't always achieve all of this, but working 3-4 times weekly with a camera.

Taking some time to change old habits but I'm determined to find a decent backhand!


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So...what's my question?

Am I on the right track, focusing on the right things?

That's kinda general, so specifically...

I finish with a bent elbow. Should I be straightening my elbow more on the follow-through?

See Ma Long backhand - he seems to be also pushing forward during his backhand stroke, I don't really get what he's doing?

Anyway, the object is to get a half-decent backhand, not join the world tour :-)

So focus on a few key points, keep practicing and checking my technique.

Thank you very much for your time!

Best, Richard

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

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor


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Thanks for your question and your accompanying video.

Your backhand is what we'd categorise as an "old fashioned backhand" that's lacking in speed and spin.

It's a "holding stroke" that will not win many points unless the opponent makes a mistake.

Table tennis today is more focused on generating greater speed and spin on every stroke.

To increase speed and spin on this stroke, I recommend taking the ball earlier off the bounce in a line with the left hip (if the ball went through an imaginary hole in the racket) and closing the racket angle to brush over the ball more to create more topspin by using a faster acceleration of the wrist.

The follow through will be slightly longer but should still allow time to take up a recovery position to return any stroke from an opponent.

I hope that helps you.




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