Table Tennis Techniques
The Backspin Chop

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The backspin chop - it's a dying art...

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Table tennis technique - backspin chop by courtesy of the ITTF

The modern game of table tennis has become one that's dominated by players who play very fast aggressive topspin strokes with an attacking / offensive style of play.

The number of top players who use a defensive style has diminished significantly, although at a local level, there are still many players who adopt this technique.

However, top players who use this style of play are popular with table tennis crowds all around the world, as they create a great foil to the attacking player.

The backspin chop is a stroke which attempts to negate the attacking strokes of your opponent and relies on a player having good movement and the right types of table tennis rubbers.

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Advanced technique

Of course, coping with your opponents fast attacking shots is an advanced technique, so it's important that you've mastered the basics of table tennis first, such as the table tennis grip, the basic table tennis strokes and the basic table tennis serve.

But once you've mastered the basics, you'll be ready to move on to an advanced level of table tennis. If that's you, I hope you'll find these tips and techniques useful.

I've also covered other advanced table tennis techniques including - mastering spin, the backhand block and forehand block, the backhand loop and forehand loop.

You'll also find tips and techniques on the advanced table tennis serve including the short backspin serve, the backhand sidespin serve, and the forehand high toss serve.

Finally, there's also the advanced return of serve including the short push return, the fast attacking push return and the forehand flick.

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The basic backhand and forehand chop

To play this stroke, stand away from the table and

  • for the backhand chop - face the line of play, and
  • for the forehand chop - take a sideways stance facing the line of play

Using a medium stroke, your racket arm should start at chest or shoulder height and move forward and downwards in the direction that the ball is going to travel, whilst your free arm should point towards the ball to assist with your body turn and balance.

During your stroke, you should mainly use the elbow and wrist joints of your playing arm to produce maximum spin. Push strongly with your legs to accentuate your body movement.

The racket angle should be slightly open to impart backspin.

Hit the ball using 50% of your stroke action before hitting the ball and 50% after hitting the ball.

Backhand chop

table tennis chop

Forehand chop


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This stroke would normally be used when your opponent plays their return very deep and fast, or short over the net.

The purpose of this stroke is to reduce the control level of your opponent, so try to ensure that your shot lands close to your opponent's baseline or sideline, or very short over the net.

To vary the amount of spin on your stroke, hit the ball at different points on its' trajectory and ensure that you use a loose wrist and fast brushing action to help you generate racket speed and spin.

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See it in action

Here's a demonstration of the backspin chop being used in a match between Hitomi Sato (red shirt) and Cheng I-Ching (blue shirt).

Both players are ranked in the top 20 of the world rankings.

Watch Sato's footwork and how she plays her strokes, varying the spin and keeping her returns deep on the table, thereby stopping her opponent from being able to play a winning attacking stroke.

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Turning defence into attack

At the highest levels of table tennis, defensive players have difficulty winning matches if they only defend. So they also need to be able to attack.

And by playing attacking strokes intermittently, defensive players restrict their opponent from just counteracting their defensive chops with returns which are too high above the net, because the defender will play an aggressive attacking shot.

Here's a demonstration showing how Hitomi Sato (red shirt) manoeuvres her backspin chop returns, waiting for an opportunity to play an attacking stroke to win the point.

Her opponent, Wang Manyu of China (black shirt) is ranked in the top 10 of the world rankings.

Watch Sato's footwork and how she plays her strokes, consistently returning the ball until her opponent plays a push shot which is too high and too slow, which gives Sato the opportunity to attack and win the point.

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