For most players, the forehand is the stronger attacking side.
This is certainly true for me. Forehand topspin is my favourite shot, which I try to use as much as possible (to cover up my weaker backhand).
But not all forehand attacks are equal.
Some table tennis players have blistering forehand attacks. Blink and the ball is past you.
Other players have steady forehand attacks. They can get the ball on the table consistently, but their attacks lack the speed and spin to really give you any trouble.
What are the strong forehand attackers doing, which the weaker forehand attackers are not?
Here are my tips on how to get more speed and spin on your forehand topspin attacks.
At the bottom of the blog post, I also share a video which addresses the same subject, with me hitting a few forehand topspins. If you prefer to watch a video rather than read the blog post, go straight to the video. The content is roughly the same.
Tip 1: Twist your waist
When playing forehand topspin attacks, you should use your waist as well as your arm.
As the ball comes towards you, you should twist backwards (from the waist) and then twist forwards when contacting the ball.
This ‘twist’ helps transfer the weight and momentum of your body into the shot, giving you some extra speed.
To help do the twist, make sure you right foot is a bit further back than your left foot (for right handed players). It’s harder to do if your feet are in a line. If your right foot is further forward than your left foot, you’ll find it difficult to twist at all.
Tip 2: Accelerate
To play fast attacks, you need plenty of acceleration with your waist and your arm.
Fairly obviously, if you attack with a slow waist twist and slow arm movement, your shot is going to go slow. But if you do the entire action with more acceleration the ball is going to go faster.
You should aim to keep your technique the same – right foot back, twist at waist, accelerate forwards – just do the entire motion faster.
If you’re a slow attacker, I’d recommend gradually increasing the speed. Don’t go straight from slow to as fast as you possibly can, as you’re likely to make too many mistakes. Just go a little bit faster than normal and see if you can do the shot consistently. If you can, go a little faster again and so on.
Tip 3 – Use your wrist
To get that extra bit of speed and spin on the ball, you can use your wrist to whip the ball.
Some players, like Timo Boll, use a lot of wrist (here’s a video example – thanks to Roger Hance for sharing with me).
If you watched the video you can see that Timo Boll’s wrist snaps forward when contacting the ball.
This is a bit more advanced and takes lots of practise to get the timing right. But it’s definitely worth practising, as you really can get that extra speed and spin to beat your opponent.
Other things you need to do…
To get the waist rotation, acceleration and wrist snap, you have to play relaxed. If you’re too tight, too tense, it’s not going to work. The more your muscles tighten up, the more everything slows down. So you have to be relaxed to get the speed.
To get the spin, you obviously need to brush the ball, rather than flat hit it. So you need to close your bat angle and brush towards the top of the ball.
And finally, make sure you contact the ball peak of the bounce or even just before the peak of the bounce. If you let the ball drift and drop too much, you’ll have to spin upwards more. You might be able to get plenty of spin, but you’ll struggle to get much speed.
How to practise
The easiest way to practise in the first instance is to get another player to block to the same spot and you just keep playing forehand topspins cross-court.
As you know where the ball is roughly going to go, you can really concentrate on playing with good technique – right foot back, twist at waist, accelerate forwards, wrist snap.
You control the speed of the attacks. If you make too many mistakes, slow down a little until you find a consistent level and then gradually increase the speed again, trying to maintain consistency.
When you can do this with good speed and spin, you should make the drill harder. For example, your partner can block to different positions, so you have to move and attack.
When you can play fast and spinny forehand attacks from different positions within the same rally in practice, you should be in good shape to start using your new attacking powers in matches.
Video tutorial – How to get more speed and spin on your forehand topspin attacks