Table Tennis Forehand Smash

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Want to discover how to play the table tennis forehand smash?
Watch my instructional video and then see the World's best players.

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Table Tennis Forehand Smash

The forehand smash in table tennis is an attacking stroke which you can use whenever your opponent plays a shot where the ball bounces higher than normal.

The intention of the forehand smash is to hit the ball as hard as possible, with minimal spin, in order to try and finish the rally and win the point.

However, in many cases, more than one forehand smash will be required in order to finish the rally and win the point.

Your initial forehand smash may be returned by your opponent using a forehand lob or a backhand lob, so you may have to play several smashes in succession.

So if you want to improve your chances of winning more table tennis matches, you'll need to develop and improve this stroke.


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Forehand Smash Against A Lobbed Return

The critical element of playing this stroke is to make sure that you hit the ball in a downward direction.

But first, it's important to get your body into a side-on position and slightly away from the table.

And in preparing to play the forehand smash your backswing should bring your arm back directly behind the path of the ball and your body should be rotating back slightly as you transfer your weight onto your back foot.

You also need to get your racket in a high position so that you can come downwards and forwards as you play your stroke and hit the ball.

You should strike the ball when it is at the top of the bounce or at shoulder height.

As you play the stroke your weight is transferred onto your front foot and the contact point should be in front of your body.

Your body weight should always be moving forwards as you play your stroke and follow through, before returning to the ready position.

If the lobbed return is very high you could also jump up (which will allow you to hit the ball at a higher point), but this is a riskier stroke to play.

Alternatively, you could hit the ball before it bounces too high, for example when it rises just above the height of the net. But although this will give your opponent less time to react to your shot, this is a much riskier stroke to play.

So let's take a look at a video demonstration of the forehand smash played against a lobbed (high bouncing ball) return.

(If you have problems with the sound, there are captions/subtitles that you can turn on. Just click on the captions/subtitles button)


The forehand smash in table tennis can also be played whenever your opponent plays a shot which causes the ball to bounce higher than normal, and not just in response to a lobbed return.

However, the lower the bounce, the higher the risk.

The forehand smash should only be used when the ball bounces above the height of the net, because when you hit it you are trying to hit the ball as hard as possible, but in a downward direction. So if the ball is not above the height of the net when you hit it, you cannot hit it in a downward direction.

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The top players in action

Take a look at these examples I've put together for you in this video.

The players featured here are all near the top of the world rankings, so it's unlikely that you'll be able to play as well as they do, but they demonstrate the forehand smash stroke in competitive matches.

The kill stroke

However, if your opponent plays their return lower than a high lob, and/or close to the net, you can use a similar stroke which is generally referred to as a kill stroke.

Here are a few examples from competitive matches between players who are all near the top of the world rankings.

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For more information on how to play table tennis and improve your game, take a look at my other tips and techniques articles...

Basic Skills


Advanced Skills


Strategies and Tactics




Skill Tests






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