Hello and welcome to the first lesson of Level 2 from my How to Play Table Tennis series.
You should now be able to play 100 forehand drives, 100 backhand drives, 100 forehand pushes and 100 backhand pushes with correct technique and without a mistake. You should also have an understanding and application of the correct table tennis grip and stance (that was all covered in level one).
Level 2 is all about regular movement drills. We’ll be combining the shots we learnt during level one with the side-step footwork to be able to cover the whole table.
Today’s drill is a simple one; two backhands and two forehands.
The aim of this drill is to become comfortable moving side-to-side and switching between backhand and forehand drive. We will play two shots before moving so that we have move time to get ourselves into the correct position and are less likely to end up one step behind the ball.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video on YouTube showing this drill in particular. There are a few showing ‘one backhand, one forehand’ but that is drill #2. I think it is much easier to start with ‘two backhands, two forehands’ first. I will try to produce a video for this drill in the next couple of weeks and then I’ll add it to this page.
I did find a useful graphic, produced by Greg Letts for About.com, so I have included that below.
In this illustration Player A is the controller and Player B is the one performing the drill. Player A is shown controlling the rally with the forehand but you could also control from your backhand. Personally, I find that beginners usually have a little more control with their backhand than their forehand and therefore the controller will often be playing all backhands. However, it is a good idea trying out both as the strokes for the mover will be slightly different as either the forehand or backhand drives goes down the line. Also, as the controller it is a good idea to become comfortable with your backhand and forehand and this is a good chance to practice.
- Player A would usually start with the ball (to make things easier).
- Player A would then play two forehand drives to Player B’s forehand.
- Player B would return them with two forehand drives to Play A’s forehand.
- Then, Play A would switch the direction and play two forehand drives to Player B’s backhand.
- Player B would side-step across to their backhand and return them with two backhand drives to Player A’s forehand.
- Then Player A would repeat the process from point 2, with two forehand drives to Player B’s forehand.
If you are controlling with your forehand you would normally start by playing the ball to your partner’s forehand. If you are using your backhand to control the first ball would usually go to your partner’s backhand. This means that the first two strokes they play are going diagonally, which is slightly easier and should help get them settled into the drill.
There are a number of ways to tweak this exercise to focus on a different skill or stop it from becoming too repetitive.
- Change the controller from backhand to forehand (or even try controlling with the forehand from the middle line).
- Change the stroke and play forehand and backhand pushes instead of drives. You’ll need to get the controller to push as well.
- Change the number of shots on each wing. You could make it ‘3 backhands, 3 forehands’, or ‘2 backhands, 1 forehand’, it’s up to you.
- Changing the placement. How about playing into a backhand control and doing two backhand and then two forehands from the middle?
Things to remember
The aim of this drill is to work on your movement.
Avoid the temptation to stand in the middle of the table and reach for your backhand and forehand shots. Instead, focus on your footwork and the side-step. You should get into a rhythm of playing a moving. Also, make sure that you are not moving whilst playing a stroke (either because you are too keen to move and are moving before you’ve finished a stroke, or because you are moving too slow and still getting into position by the time the ball has reached you). You need to move first, then stop, and then play the strokes. At the top level sometimes they have to play strokes and move at the same time but for this drill, using drives or pushes, you should move first and then stop and make the stroke.
You are trying to make 50 shots in succession.
Don’t play too hard or fast. At this level the aim is still accuracy and consistency. We want to keep the ball on the table, not spend all our practice session chasing after it. Slow the shots down and focus on playing 50 shots. That would be two backhands and two forehands counting as four in total, and so on. If you are the controller make sure the ball is going to the correct half of the table for your partner. If you are the mover then try and be as accurate as possible for the controller. This is especially important when you are playing the stroke down the line. Watch out that you are not ‘dragging’ your shots into the middle of the table.
Keep a small amount of spin on the ball.
Whether that’s topspin or backspin will depend on which shot you are playing but avoid the temptation to ‘prod’ or ‘poke’ at the ball as your concentration switches to your footwork. It’s very important that you maintain proper technique and keep some topspin on your drives. This will also make it easier for the controller to keep the rally going.
That should be all you need to know to start practice this first drill of How to Play Table Tennis: Level 2. Next up is one backhand, one forehand, which is a little bit tougher but you should have a good foundation now that you can play 50 shots doing two backhands and two forehands.
Keep practising and leave a comment if you need anything clarified or explained further, I’m sure I’ve forgotten at least one thing!