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The drive is the most basic shot and you must take the time to master it using the following tips. It's like learning to run - if you can't walk, you can't do a lot of things. I've had to teach many beginners to learn this basic shot without

which they flounder away at our club. The above image is from Table Tennis England

The drive is an essential element to let you master the block, loop, smash, lob and flick. Unfortunately, any bad habits you have on your drive will translate to your other shots. This is the reason that Chinese coaches train this shot for 6 to 18 months until their trainees learn it perfectly. Of course, I don't expect you to have the time to develop this shot to the professional level but please understand that it is a fundamental tt skill.

At the beginner level, try to learn three things only. Remember we're trying to return the ball accurately with topspin.

1. Start off at the ready stance. Both legs or feet facing forward, knees bent, right arm holding the bat with correct grip, at table height, looking at the ball.

2. Swing your bat 90 to 110 degrees backwards. That's your backswing so easy. But so many guys get it wrong. Because your ready stance is initially all wrong, your bat and elbow go all over the place. Just follow picture 2 - twist your shoulder and hip slightly to follow the right hand. Your right arm does not fully straighten out, your elbow does not go fishing behind your back, your left arm is comfortably relaxed and turns with your swing.

3. After all that hard work (which is the most simple thing really) of carrying out the backswing, the shot is very easily carried out by swinging your bat both forward and upwards. Finish at shoulder height and never past your face or left shoulder. Your shot must go UP and FORWARDS to both give power to the shot and impart topspin which is crucial to bringing the ball back down on the table. Contact angle on the ball is between 2 and 3 o'clock where the topmost point of the ball is at 12 o'clock. Your forearm straightens out slightly during the backswing and snaps shut slightly during the shot. 

Watch the video by Tom Lodziak who explains things quite clearly. You will have the fundamentals of a good stroke to progress your tt play if you learn the 3 basics.

     

                1. Ready                                2.Backswing                           3. Hit                                   4.Finish

Ok, I retract my statement about giving up tt if you can't do a forehand drive. Many people just enjoy patting the ball back and forth across the table. If they've never seen skilled players, they just hit or block the ball back over the net anyhow with no effort to be aggressive or play scientifically.

However, not many people dog-paddle up and down public swimming pools these days. Fair enough, in fun or organised running events quite a number of people walk due to old age and disability. Or fast walkers are just as fast as very slow joggers anyway. But in reality, most sports need a minimum level of skill otherwise it can become unsafe eg, don't swim in the ocean if you can't swim a kilometre or don't ride on roads if you can't control your bicycle.

So after reading this article if you're still unable to impart topspin on your forehand drive, get some friendly advice from our advanced members and coach. They will see immediately what bad habits you've got and can improve your shot. I'm sure you'll enjoy the game more.

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