Essential Table Tennis Terminologies (Must Know)

Essential Table Tennis Terminologies (Must Know)

8 minutes read
Oct 4th, 2023
Edited by:  Kim

Are you ready to embark on an exciting journey into the world of table tennis? As a beginner, building a solid foundation of understanding for the sport’s key terminologies is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will not only introduce you to essential table tennis terms but also provide in-depth explanations to ensure you’re well-equipped to navigate the game confidently. Let’s dive right in and enhance your table tennis knowledge at Ingahub!


  • Table Tennis Terminologies

Table Tennis Terminologies

Here are the most common table tennis terms in the alphabet order.


Attack: A strategic approach that involves executing powerful shots to gain control of the rally and put pressure on your opponent. Attacks can take the form of both forehand and backhand shots.

Aces: Serves that are so well-placed or fast that the opponent is unable to return them, resulting in direct points.


Backhand: One of the two primary strokes in table tennis, the backhand involves using the side of your racket without the playing surface to hit the ball. Developing a reliable backhand is crucial for a balanced game.

Block: A defensive technique where the player uses their racket to redirect an opponent’s shot back over the net with minimal motion. Blocks are often used against fast-paced attacks.


Chop: A defensive stroke that imparts backspin on the ball by striking it with a downward motion. Chops are effective for changing the pace of the game and making your shots more challenging to return.

Counter-Attack: A quick offensive response to your opponent’s attack. Counter-attacks require fast reflexes and accuracy to capitalize on your opponent’s vulnerability.


Deuce: When the game score reaches 10-10, it’s referred to as “deuce.” The next player to score two consecutive points wins the game.

Drive: An attacking shot with speed and power, executed by hitting the ball forcefully and often with a flat trajectory. Drives can be executed from various positions on the table.

Drop Shot: A delicate shot that clears the net by a small margin and falls close to the net on your opponent’s side. Drop shots are effective for surprising opponents and changing the rhythm of the game.

Double Bounce Rule:A rule that requires the ball to bounce once on each side of the table before players can start volleying.


Edge Ball: A situation where the ball hits the edge of the table, resulting in an unpredictable change in trajectory. Edge balls can challenge both players’ reactions.


Flat Hit: Hitting the ball without imparting any spin. Flat hits are used for quick shots and unexpected returns.

Flick:A quick wrist movement used to generate a short and fast shot, typically in response to a short serve. Flicks are effective for returning serves with precision.

Forehand: The side of your racket with the playing surface. The forehand stroke is one of the fundamental techniques in table tennis.


Grip:The way you hold the racket. The two common grip styles are the shakehand grip and the penhold grip.


Half-Long Serve: A strategic serve that bounces near the end line of the table. This serve makes it challenging for your opponent to decide whether to attack or return defensively.

Half-Long Ball: A strategic shot that lands near the end line of the table, making it challenging for opponents to predict its trajectory.


Inside-Out: A shot played to the opposite side of the table from where it appears to be heading. This technique can catch opponents off-guard and create open spaces for your shots.


Jam Serve: A serve directed at the opponent’s body, making it difficult for them to execute a comfortable return.

Jitterbug: Quick and unpredictable footwork during a rally. Jitterbugging can be used to confuse opponents and create advantageous positions.


Kill Shot: A powerful and aggressive shot aimed at ending the point decisively. Kill shots require precise timing and placement to be effective.

Kill Zone: A specific area on the table that is difficult to defend effectively. Skilled players exploit the kill zone to score points.


Let:A term used when a point is replayed due to a minor interruption, such as the ball hitting the net during a serve. Lets are a part of fair play and sportsmanship.

Lob: A high-arcing defensive shot that sends the ball deep into your opponent’s court. Lobs provide you with time to recover and regain control of the rally.

Loop: A powerful topspin shot that involves lifting the ball over the net and causing it to dip sharply on the opponent’s side.


Match Point: The crucial point that, if won, secures victory in the match.


Net Cord:The upper edge of the net that the ball can touch during play.

Net Shot:A delicate shot that just clears the net and lands close to it on your opponent’s side. Net shots can force opponents to stretch and make challenging returns.


Offensive: A playing style focused on aggressive shots and taking the initiative in rallies.

Open Face:Holding the racket with the face pointing upwards, often used for executing high-arcing shots.


Paddle: Another term for a table tennis racket.

Penhold Grip:A grip style where the racket is held between the thumb and forefinger, resembling holding a pen. The penhold grip offers unique shot angles and techniques.

Push: A shot with backspin that is typically used for service returns or to maintain control during a rally. Pushes can slow down the pace of the game.


Rally: The sequence of shots exchanged between players during a point, starting from the serve.


Serve: The shot that initiates a rally. A good serve sets the tone for the point that follows.

Side Spin: Spin applied to the sides of the ball, causing it to curve in flight. Side spin can influence the trajectory and bounce of the ball.

Spin: The rotation of the ball that affects its trajectory and bounce.


Topspin:A shot with forward and upward spin. Topspin shots are commonly used for attacking and controlling the rally.


Volley: Hitting the ball while it’s in mid-air before it has a chance to bounce on your side of the table.


Underspin: A shot with backward spin. Underspin shots tend to stay low and require careful handling to return accurately.


Wrist Action:The controlled movement of the wrist during a shot. Proper wrist action is essential for generating power and spin.


X-Factor: An unexpected element that can change the course of a match, such as a sudden change in strategy or a surprising shot selection.


Zero Point: The starting point of a game, where both players have yet to score.

With these comprehensive explanations of essential table tennis terminologies, you’re well on your way to becoming a confident and knowledgeable player. Take these terms with you onto the table and watch your understanding of the game deepen with every rally. Remember, learning and practicing these terms will significantly contribute to your enjoyment and success in the exciting world of table tennis.

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