How to Transfer Weight During a Forehand Loop

This is Episode 043 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Alex and is about how to transfer your weight when forehand looping.

Alex asks…

“Nobody ever goes into detail about how to do the weight transfer during the forehand loop. Recently watched a very strong Chinese player practice and it was very apparent that he’s incredibly powerful forehand loop is basically a jump from one leg to the other while rotating his upper body. And the arm is mostly just hanging to the side. How much bend should I have in my knees? Which way should my knees and feet be facing before and after the stroke?”

This is a really good question Alex and I think you’re right. Lots of coaches tell us to use weight transfer when we’re playing our forehand shots. But you’re often left to figure out the mechanics of it on your own. Exactly how that works is up to you to find out.

I think this is actually where players that have mastered other sports have a really big advantage and that might be one reason why players that have been good at other sports can quickly improve at table tennis faster than people who haven’t come from a sport oriented background.

Lets think of boxing. If you can imagine throwing a right hook going outside of the body. You can picture the twisting and weight transfer that’s involved with that. Or how about something like discus. If you imagine someone winding up to release a discus and the weight transfer spins them around in a circle to throw it.

Golf is another great example. Imagine you are standing there about to take a big swing and just picture how the power is all coming from the core. The rotation of the body and the weight transfer from the back foot to the front foot.

Weight transfer is really important and thinking about other sports can help you to figure out how it should go in table tennis.

Personally the best way I like to teach weight transfer to my younger players is something that I nicked from a Chinese table tennis training video. It goes something like this…

You get players to stand up, you don’t need a bat in your hand or anything like that, then get them to swing their arms fully. So both arms together from the right to the left while going back behind them as far as they can. Swinging around from one side to the other.

As they do that what they’re going to find is that they naturally transfer their weight between their feet. So as they swing back to the right their weight is going to go onto their right foot. Then they’re going to come back to the left and their body will twist, transferring the weight to the left.

As you go past the center line of your body you’re going to feel that weight shift from one foot to the other. Your feet can just stay on the floor, you don’t need to jump from one foot to the other. It’s just the swinging and the rotation. But you will start to feel the weight shifting in your body.

All you need to do once you’ve got that, and that’s just going to come naturally, is you bend your knees a little bit. Crouch down and lean forwards. Then keep doing that in your table tennis stance.

What’s going to happen is everything on the playing side of your body – if you’re right handed everything that’s happening on that right side is your forehand loop. As you go backwards that’s your backswing and as you come forward that’s the forward part of the stroke and then you’ll have a little bit of follow-through as well.

Really you just turn that big twisting into basically the correct technique for a forehand loop and the weight transfer is going to happen naturally with the swing.

You don’t actually need to consciously think about shifting weight. With a lot of stuff in table tennis once you start consciously try to do stuff, like add wrist, that really messes you up. It’s more naturally letting the weight transfer as you swing across.

Your body’s going to do that to keep itself balanced. If it didn’t shift the weight you’d start to lose balance, so you’re just going to naturally shift that weight. And you don’t need to be jumping either. You can keep your feet on the floor and transfer it like that.

Now when it comes to how you’re going to be standing most players are going to have their feet slightly facing outwards, but not too much. Your right foot is going to need to be slightly behind the left foot, if you’re a right handed player, so you just open up your body a little bit so that you can swing into the table.

The most important thing is that you have a wide stance because that’s really going to help you get low and keep your balance. One and a half to two shoulder widths apart.

Try not to be moving your feet on the floor or changing your foot position during the swing. There’s a great video on YouTube called ‘Power from the ground’ and that talks about how you need to be connected to the ground in order to get the power into your shots.

If you’re jumping around or swivelling your feet during the shot you’re going to lose all of that connection with the ground, and lose your power. It’s going to get lost in the technique.

I guess if you think about your feet you’ve got the balls of your feet and heels. You want your weight to be on the balls of your feet. They need to be basically staying in the same spot because there you are connected to the ground.

Your heels aren’t going to have much connection and they can move around a little bit if they need to. It doesn’t matter that much as long as the balls of your feet are your connection on the floor and that’s what you’re pushing off of.

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