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Table tennis is a swift sport that requires you to strike the ball in a way that your opponent won’t predict.

Your main aim is to push them to make a weak return or create an opening in the table where you can maneuver to win a point.

There are various offensive and defensive shots that you need to master to excel in the game.

Ensure that you know you know how to hit a backhand smash in table tennis, the forehand and return strokes.

Once you learn these essentials, you can then move to more complicated skills.

Consider the following critical techniques required to perform various actions in the game successfully.

How to hit a smash in table tennis

A smash is an offensive technique that requires you to hit the ball as fast as possible.

You aim at pushing your opponent far away from the table so you can finish the rally and win points.

Mainly, you use a forehand smash as your attacking stroke, mostly when your rival plays a shot where the ball bounces higher above the net.

This smash highly relies on precision and timing to ensure that your ball doesn’t miss the table.

Still, your opponent can return your stroke with another lob, and you, therefore, need to perform several forehands smashes in succession to win the points.

While playing a forward stroke, the most critical tactic is to use your full body mass to hit the ball hard and faster.

Besides, lift the rocket at your shoulder heights to hit the ball in a downward direction with minimal spins.

You need to understand some basic techniques to do the forehand smash correctly.

They include:

Backswing — Just like any other table tennis shot, your body and feet positioning is of utmost importance. First, rotate your body sideways with your right leg slightly behind the left. The position transfers weight to the back foot to build energy for a powerful shot. Next, keep your arms right behind the ball path and lift your paddle to allow a down and forward movement to hit the ball.

The Strike — When the ball bounces off the table, swing your body back to transfer the bodyweight to the front foot. At this point, you should have already finished rotating your shoulders, hips, and waist in preparation to strike. You need to learn the best timing to hit the ball. If you hit it too late, it might not move fast enough. On the other hand, if you hit the ball when it’s too high, you might miss it. The best timing is when it starts falling from its most elevated position. Smash the ball at your shoulders height or the top of the bounce. For a very high return lob, you can jump to reach the ball at a higher point, but it’s a riskier move. Alternatively, you can choose to hit the ball before it bounces too high, for instance, just above the net height. The strike will give your opponent little time to reiterate, but it’s also risky.

• Follow-through — Once the ball leaves the tennis racket, move the bodyweight forward and quickly get back to the ready position. Additionally, avoid forcing the paddle too far from your body to recover from the movement swiftly.

Note that you should only use the forward smash when the ball bounces above the net height.

If it’s below, you can’t hit the ball hard enough and in a downward direction.

Always remember that the lower the bounce, the riskier the smash.

How to hit a backhand smash in table tennis

It’s a unique technique where you use the front part of the paddle to hit the ball.

You position the paddle around your opponent’s shoulder area then rapidly push forward to return the ball powerfully.

It’s considered one of the most challenging techniques to perfect in both power and timing.

You can no longer depend on one skill to win a point, and therefore having a good backhand skill is equally important.

It’s considered one of the most prestigious moves worth learning.

When doing a backhand hit, you need to turn your arm moderately across your body to smash the ball.

Here are four components to consider in this technique:

• Stance — First, ensure that you position your body squarely to the line of play. At this point, your feet should diagonally point your opponent. Next, bend your knees, crouch your body, and then move your hand in front with a moderate bend at your elbow.

Do a backswing — As the ball moves closer to you, move your racket towards your body. Remember to stay in a balanced and aligned manner.

Strike — Once the ball is close enough, you can now move your arm towards it. Next, tap on the ball to push it forward and make use of your wrist for direction and more power.

• Finish — Keep your body weight moving forward; your arm should follow through while rotating and stretching outwards to help you use all your strength. Finally, recover your ready position to anticipate your next shot.

Backhand smash assists in returning the slightly high balls aggressively.

Keep in mind that it requires a lot of power and good body movement.

The techniques enable you to push your opponent to the back, making it hard for them to return successfully.

Additionally, it needs little to no spin and is very useful with the absence of tricks.

However, it’s fast and quite challenging to execute; thus, it doesn’t favor beginners.

How to return a smash in table tennis

The return is another vital stroke in table tennis, which highly depends on the type of smash you receive.

Always try to vary your return direction and use the various angles and lines of play available to force a weak counter from your rival.

Some of the return techniques that you can use include:

Short push — This return stroke aims to ensure that the ball bounces twice on the opponent’s side to prevent them from playing an attacking smash. To achieve this, move nearer the table, and maintain a low stance. Next, relax your arms, and keep them pointing towards the ball to gain balance. Loosen the wrist, lean over the table, and hit the ball with a long shot just before it reaches the top of the bounce.

• Long push — You can also use a fast and long return to surprise the opponent. It pushes the rival to play a weak attacking stroke that you can take advantage of to win a point. Since most people often use the short push, occasionally play the long one to get your opponent off guard. You use similar techniques with the short push, but you have to strike the ball very fast and long, aiming it at the cross over point. The rival will get confused about whether to use a backhand or forward smash, and you might even win a point outright.

• The flick return — This stroke aims at forcing your opponent back on their heels. You can use a flick return when you receive a short ball or in a rally. It involves hitting over the top part of the ball using a loose wrist.

Final thoughts

When playing table tennis, you should ensure that you utilize both forehand and backhand smash techniques.

Remember to occasionally use the latter since it’s more applicable when your opponent makes a slightly high shot.

On the other hand, you can use the forehand smash for the long balls regardless of their intensity level. Keep practicing the two moves until they are part of you.

Don’t forget to perfect your skills in returning a smash as it could be the secret to overwhelming your opponent.

Additionally, identify any weaknesses in your competitor and try to exploit them.

Hopefully, the above guide on how to hit a smash in table tennis will get you started.

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