How to Get More Power on Your Forehand

This is Episode 035 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Vlad and is all about how to add power to your forehand loop.

Vlad asks…

“Hey Ben! I’m Vlad from Romania and I want to ask you how to improve my forehand topspin. I’ve been training for 3 years now and my forehand topspin is rather good, but it does not have enough power. It’s got spin and is pretty consistent in the sense that I can play 10 strokes against a block without a problem. But it lacks the speed which therefore makes it easy for blockers. I’m also using my wrist, not only my forearm, but still no improvement to my power.”

This is a really great question, Vlad. It’s something that I get asked a lot. Power in table tennis has nothing to do with how much size you’ve got (muscle and bulk), instead it’s all about your technique and timing.

Sometimes you’ll see the biggest table tennis player play with no power at all, where there are some skinny under 15 players using 10 times as much power on their loops. It’s all just technique and timing and is something you need to learn and study.

I’ve got 2 resources that I want to direct you towards.

The first is a blog post that I wrote back in 2012 titled ‘3 Tips to Increase Your Table Tennis Power’. In the post I highlight 3 different aspects – being balanced, staying relaxed and having good timing. They are 3 things I find really important in having power.

It’s not about hitting the gym and giving more effort. Balance, relaxation and timing is everything. You can have a look at the post here.

What I did in that post is talk about it in the text of boxing. Because boxing uses a lot of the same principles. They’re not trying to tense up to be really strong, they are trying to be loose, fast and fluid.

The second resource I would direct you towards is Tao Li’s Table Tennis University video. This is one of the ones that’s available you YouTube for free, so you don’t need to buy the course. In this video Tao talks about the importance of weight transfer, which is really key to power.

Power in table tennis is largely down to the weight transfer. If you get this right, and the Chinese are brilliant at this, you’re going to have loads of power in your strokes because you are transferring your weight into the ball instead of just using your arm.

If you get the weight transfer wrong you’re not going to have much power and you’ll have inefficient technique which can cause injury. Have a look at the video here.

That’s plenty for you to work on for now. I haven’t seen you play so it’s going to be difficult for me to help you directly. But I reckon the main issue you are having has to do with basic technique and weight transfer, as I see these the most.

Think more about the lower half of your body than the upper half. Especially your legs and using them correctly because it should be your legs generating most of the power. Transferring your weight from your back foot, if you’re right handed that’s going to be your right foot, to your front foot as you make contact with the ball.

Same as in boxing. If you imagine throwing a really big punch you need to transfer your weight into the punch. If you aren’t transferring your weight your punch isn’t going to have any force behind it.

Another thing that might be worth doing, Vlad, is filming yourself playing some forehands then watching it back. After you’ve had a look at that maybe compare it to some of the videos of the pros on YouTube. If you’re not transferring your weight and you’ve got problems with your basic technique I think it will be fairly obvious to see even without a coach.

Maybe after you’ve had a look at that you can start working with a coach. Do some multi-ball and get a coach to feed you and check your basic technique. Get someone that knows what they are doing. It’s the technique that’s most important.

I’ve just remembered something else that I would like to mention and that’s another video on YouTube called ‘Power From The Ground’. It’s all about the Chinese philosophy of power coming from your contact with the ground on your forehand shots, and not from strong arms or anything like that. After watching the Tao Li one, you can watch the next one here.

If you would like to learn the proper Chinese technique of how to play table tennis, who are the best at it, you should definitely check out Tao Li’s video training at Tao Li was on the Chinese national team and is a professional table tennis coach, now living in Canada. He really knows his stuff when it comes to Chinese technique and the way they play.

You can sign up to Basics Mastery for free which is a 12-part video course. Take a look at that here.

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