Thursday 5 June 2014

Tactics for Playing Backhand Dominant Players

A fresh question from Paul Shih, 'What type of strategies can be used against backhand dominant players?'. Great question, it's not often we come across these types of players as the forehand is so heavily favoured in table tennis so it pays to have an idea of what to do should you stumble across a strong backhand player. Here are some strategy ideas for playing backhand oriented players. See more from my Coaching Blog.

Find the Forehand: First piece of advice is to target the weaker stroke. Often on serve receive these backhand oriented players will flip across a wide proportion of the table with their backhand. These players usually have weaker forehand serve receives. This is a common tactic you would also use against players with pips on their backhand also. You need to find the point at which your opponent will receive with their forehand. Once you know that point, you can either drag your opponent all the way across to play a backhand on one side of the point and open up space on the table, or you can target their weaker forehand receive on the forehand side of the point.

Tactics for Playing Backhand Dominant Players
Target the Forehand: A seemingly obvious tactic here, if the backhand is much stronger, then target the forehand. You also need to understand more about the strengths and weaknesses of the strokes. Your opponent may be weaker at opening with the forehand but strong in a rally, hence you would put extra pressure on service and receive to the forehand in order to force errors on the forehand ball. This is important because a stronger backhand doesn't necessarily mean a weak forehand, it's all comparative.

Where is the Strength in the Backhand: Is your opponent strong across the whole backhand side? Do they play backhands across the middle of the table? Are they effective at covering their whole backhand half, how strong are they on the wide backhand? Remember a player can be strong within their comfort zone, test the limits. A backhand oriented player must always position themselves behind the ball for a stable, well controlled stroke, this means they have to be fast and always in the right place. Test wide balls and body shots and see how effectively your opponent deals with them.

Tighten Up Shots to the Backhand: When playing to the backhand, make sure you play high quality strokes. Take away as much comfort as you can. Play long pushes with heavy spin, short pushes short and low to prevent full attacking strokes. Loop with good depth and good spin and play with lots of variation so as the opponent cannot build rhythm.

Open The Forehand Corner: The wide forehand needs to be a big target in this scenario. Not only does it target a big movement to play the opponent's weaker stroke, but it opens up a large distance to recover and guard the space created on the backhand. Forcing the opposition into the corner or off the table on their backhand side will open up more space across the forehand. If you can exploit that and play wide to the forehand, the opponent will have a large space to cover. If their weight is not balanced when they arrive at that forehand shot, they may keep moving out on their forehand side after their stroke, opening up even more space on their backhand.

These are only small tips, each player is different and a backhand player could be dominant or weak in a multitude of different areas of the game. The main tactics really are to target away from the backhand in order to create a situation where the backhand cannot be covered, at which point you have opened up a defensive gap and can exploit it to win points.


  1. I find the majority of the recreational players are backhand dominated! Great short summary on such a popular question!


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