How to play backhand topspin vs backspin in table tennis

Backhand topspin vs backspin is a key stroke to master if you want to attack backspin balls (pushes, chops, long backspin serves) played towards your backhand.

During the 60s, 70s, and 80s a lot of players used their backhand to push, block and drive and would use their forehand for playing topspin attacks. But as table tennis has evolved over the past 30 years, backhand topspin has become an increasingly essential stroke. Almost all professional players now attack with both forehand and backhand topspin.

Backhand topspin vs backspin is one of the more technically challenging shots to play in table tennis. To play the shot well, you need to combine wrist and forearm movement with plenty of upwards acceleration, whilst brushing the ball (not hitting through it). If you don’t do all of these things, the ball often ends up in the net or drifts long.

The big advantage of playing backhand topspin vs backspin is that it is far more consistent than driving the ball. This is because you lift the ball up over the net and the spin brings the ball back on your opponent’s side of the table. You will be able to attack even very low pushes or chops.

The other advantage of this stroke is that you will be able to attack any push, chop or long backspin serve which lands on the backhand side of the table. If you can also play forehand topspin vs backspin, this means you can attack any backspin ball your opponent gives you. You’ll become a topspin attacking machine!

How do you play backhand topspin vs backspin?

  1. Bend your knees and drop your bat below below waist height
  2. Close your bat angle slightly
  3. Keep your wrist relaxed and bend it backwards
  4. As the ball approaches, push up with your legs, and bring your arm towards the ball and accelerate your wrist forward and up, brushing the back of the ball
  5. Contact the ball in front of your body
  6. On contact, your bat should brush the ball, in an upwards motion – the more you brush the ball, the more topspin you will generate
  7. Your bat should finish around shoulder height

Common mistakes

  1. Don’t play the stroke with a tight wrist – this will restrict your forearm and wrist movement and bat acceleration, making it much harder to spin the ball. Try to keep your wrist as loose as possible.
  2. Don’t start with your bat too high – this will reduce the space you can accelerate upwards, resulting in a weak topspin. Instead start with you bat below waist height (try and find the gap between your legs) – this will give you more space to accelerate.

Further reading and viewing