How to Play a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis (Beginner Guide)

How to Play a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis (Beginner Guide)

7 minutes read
Oct 3rd, 2023
Edited by:  Kim

Welcome to the beginner’s guide on how to play a forehand drive in table tennis. The forehand drive is a fundamental skill that can elevate your game and give you the upper hand during matches. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the key steps, techniques, and training exercises to help you master this essential shot. Whether you’re new to table tennis or looking to refine your skills, read on to unleash the power of the forehand drive.



  • What Is a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis?
  • How to Play a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis
  • Training Exercises for Forehand Drives in Table Tennis
  • Conclusion

What Is a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis?

A forehand drive in table tennis is a basic shot where a player hits the ball with the front side of their racket/paddle using a forward swing. It’s used for controlled, offensive plays.

Start with a balanced stance, swing the paddle forward, and make contact with the ball in front of your body. It’s an essential skill for accuracy and control during rallies, allowing you to put pressure on your opponent and maintain control of the game. Add more power and it can be an effective finishing shot.

How to Play a Forehand Drive in Table Tennis

1. Get into the position

You should stand with your legs nice and wide, bend your knees slightly, and bring your upper body forward and down a bit.

Your leg that is not on the same side as your playing hand should be placed slightly more forward than the other leg. For example, if you play with your right hand like most players do, you should bring your left leg slightly more forward than your right leg. This allows you to have a stable stance and waist rotation to hit with forehand drives and recover.


Stance in Table Tennis

2. Hit the ball with proper movements

After a serve, as the ball comes over the net, you should rotate your body backward from your waist, including your playing hand and arm, toward the direction of your playing hand. As the ball bounces on the table and comes to you, accelerate forward using your waist again and hit the ball with your paddle. Remember to use your waist along with your playing hand and arm. It will give you more flexibility and acceleration for more powerful shots.

For the paddle or racket, the easiest way to hold is the shakehand grip, which we highly recommend if you are a beginner. For the forehand motion, you should hold your paddle at waist height level as a starting point. As the ball comes, you rotate your body backward, then bring your paddle forward and upward to hit the ball. Remember to keep the paddle angle closed slightly.

Common mistakes for beginners:Beginners usually make unnecessary movements which result in poor performance.

  • Don’t rotate your body too far backward and avoid moving your head too much. Keep your eye on the ball.
  • Don’t cross your arm across your body when you hit the ball. This will slow down your time to recover meaning getting back in the position for the next stroke.

Tip:Use your phone to record yourself playing so you can see whether you have these mistakes and fix them.

3. Practice forehand drives consistently

When first learning and practicing how to play with forehand drives, you should always focus on consistency rather than hitting hard to finish. Focus on hitting the ball over the net and bounce on the opponent’s side. All of your strokes should be consistent and travel alike.

When you reach a level of consistency with most of your forehand drives, then you can move on to add more power to your shots following the same techniques we have discussed so far.

4. Combine with footwork

Forehand drives are good for the forehand side. This means if you’re playing forehand drives with your right hand, you will be good with the ball going to your right side.

Many players are struggling with the ball going to the middle of the table. This is because they don’t move or have poor footwork.


Combine footwork in table tennis

Try to combine your footwork once you are comfortable with playing with forehand drives in one position. Ask your practice partner to hit the ball to the middle of the table so that you can practice moving your legs and feet.

Tip: If you are playing with your right hand, when the ball goes to the middle of the table, make sure you move enough for the left leg to be positioned outside of the width of the table. This allows you to have more space to play a strong forehand drive. Otherwise, your shot might likely be weaker.

Training Exercises for Forehand Drives in Table Tennis

Here is a simple training exercise for beginners you can follow: two forehand drives cross-court then two forehand drives down the line.


Two forehand drives cross-court and two forehand drives down the line

Many players with forehand drives are very good with cross-court but not down the line. This exercise will help you diversify your attacking strokes in different directions, increasing the chances of winning.

Tip: When hitting the down-the-line shot, you should rotate your waist more backward. This will give more space to hit the ball straight down the line. Normally, the direction of the paddle will face the direction that you want the ball to travel.

You can mix up the numbers in this exercise to make it more challenging. For example, you can practice:

  • One cross-court followed by one down the line
  • One cross-court followed by two down the line
  • Two cross-court followed by one down the line

The combination is endless and up to you to decide.


Those are all the steps to play forehand drives in table tennis for beginners. Very simple right? Remember to practice for consistency first. Don’t rush. Take your time to master the fundamentals and you will be better in no time!

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