Master the Basics – Backhand Drives in Table Tennis

Master the Basics – Backhand Drives in Table Tennis

8 minutes read
Nov 27th, 2023
Edited by:  Kim

The backhand drive is a formidable offensive stroke in table tennis, often employed near the table to exert control and pressure on your opponent. While it may not possess the sheer power of the forehand drive due to its shorter stroke, it is a versatile and effective shot. Let’s break down this crucial skill, exploring its stance, stroke mechanics, and practice drills, so you can elevate your backhand drive game.



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

What is a Backhand Drive in Table Tennis?

A backhand drive in table tennis is a vital offensive shot that players use when the ball approaches their backhand side of the table. It’s a shot played close to the table and is known for its control and precision. While it might not possess the sheer power of a forehand drive, it compensates with its quick execution and ability to surprise opponents.

This shot is particularly effective when faced with an opponent’s return that is slightly high or when the ball has minimal topspin or no spin at all. When executed with rapid arm acceleration, the backhand drive can make it incredibly challenging for your opponent to counter effectively.

How to Play a Backhand Drive in Table Tennis

This stroke offers a balance between power and control. The key to mastering the backhand drive lies in perfecting your stance, stroke mechanics, and footwork. Let’s delve deeper into these aspects to understand how to excel in this essential table tennis technique.

1. Master the Stance

Achieving a solid stance is the foundation of any effective table tennis shot, and the backhand drive is no exception. Begin by positioning your legs wide apart, slightly bending your knees, and leaning your upper body forward.

A key detail to remember is the placement of your feet. If you are right-handed, keep your left foot slightly forward. This setup ensures that you can transition seamlessly into a forehand shot when needed. However, it is acceptable to have your feet in a more linear alignment if it feels comfortable.

2. Understand the Stroke Mechanics

Understanding the mechanics of the backhand drive is crucial for executing this shot effectively. Let’s break it down into key components:

Backswing: Start with your racket coming back down towards your waist. Unlike the forehand drive, the backswing doesn’t require as much waist rotation.

Forward Motion: Once the ball bounces over the net and approaches you, initiate a forward movement from your waist, along with your playing hand and arm. The objective is to hit the ball with your paddle.

Bat Angle: Keep your bat angle slightly closed. This helps in keeping the ball low over the net, making it challenging for your opponent to return.

Contact Point:Hit the ball in front of your body. This is a crucial aspect of backhand strokes – they should be played in front, not to the side.

Follow-Through:After making contact with the ball, ensure that your follow-through extends to the right side of your body.

By adhering to these mechanics, you’ll maintain a compact and efficient backhand drive, eliminating unnecessary movements that can lead to errors.

3. Avoid These Common Mistakes

One common mistake players make is positioning their right leg (for right-handed players) significantly forward. While this might seem easier, it places your body in an unfavorable position for forehand strokes.

The fast-paced nature of table tennis makes transitioning between forehand and backhand shots crucial. To achieve this seamlessly, aim to play your backhand strokes with your feet in a straight line or with your left leg slightly forward. This stance allows for quick adjustments to play forehand shots.

4. Practice for Consistency

As you embark on your journey to master the backhand drive, prioritize consistency over power. Begin with a focus on controlled strokes, aiming to send the ball over the net consistently. Set goals for yourself, for example reaching an X number of consecutive error-free backhand drives.

Once you achieve a consistent shot, gradually introduce more acceleration into your strokes. This acceleration will result in a faster and more powerful backhand drive. You can also start incorporating wrist movement during the backswing by bringing your wrist back and snapping it forward during ball contact, adding extra power to your shots.

Training Exercises for Backhand Drives in Table Tennis

Practice is the key to honing your backhand drive. Here are some training exercises that can help you improve your skills.

Cross-Court and Down the Line: Practice two backhand drives cross-court followed by two backhand drives down the line. This drill enhances your ability to execute the backhand drive to different positions on the table, making your shots less predictable and more challenging for your opponent.

To change from cross-court to down the line, here’s a tip: Adjust your waist, shoulders, and back to the direction where you want the ball to go when hitting it.

Backhand from Backhand Corner: This exercise focuses on improving your footwork. If you prefer an attacking backhand, this drill is invaluable. It helps you play backhand drives from a larger area of the table, enhancing your ability to respond effectively.

Backhand from the Middle:While forehand attacks are your preferred choice, there will be situations where a backhand shot from the middle is the better option. This drill helps you cover a wider range of shots and improves your footwork, ensuring you’re always in the right position.


Mastering the backhand drive in table tennis requires a combination of proper technique, consistent practice, and adaptability. While it may not match the sheer power of the forehand drive, the backhand drive’s control and precision make it a valuable weapon in your arsenal.

Remember, the foundation of a successful backhand drive lies in a solid stance, efficient stroke mechanics, and a commitment to consistency. Over time, as you refine your technique and build up your power, you’ll find your backhand drive becoming a formidable asset on the table tennis court.

So, take the time to practice, focus on improving your skills, and soon, your opponents will find it challenging to return your well-executed backhand drives. With dedication and determination, you’ll be on your way to mastering this essential table tennis stroke.

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