Bill Lui - U.S. Certified National Coach

Which Attacking Shot to Take? 07/21/04
By Bill Lui, USATT Certified National Coach

When a player executes an attacking shot in a game, it has to be taken decisively. Practicing the different shots to take within one’s style establishes the consistency that is needed to execute them in real game situations without hesitation. In order to do that, one has to be cognizant of one’s style and apply the best attacking shot based on the spin and location of the incoming ball.

Every player’s style and equipment used are different. I have summarized, in the charts below, the different attacking shots to take for an all-round player using inverted rubber. Other players using different types of rubber should formulate a pattern that is best suited to their style.

For the purpose of this discussion, a short ball is one that will bounce twice on the table after it passes the net if allowed to and a long ball is one that will only bounce once. A topspin ball may be treated similar to one with side top, straight side spin, or no spin. A backspin ball may be treated similar to one with side backspin.

When the incoming ball is long, most players will not hesitate to attack. The following choices of attacking shots are what I recommend an all-round player to practice against long balls:

Ball Type
Attacking shot to take
Topspin long and high
  • Counter drive contacting the ball at or before the
    peak of the bounce with a closed racket.
     
  • Smash with a closed racket if the ball bounces really high
Topspin long and low
  • Loop drive contacting the ball at or before the peak of the bounce
     
  • Control loop contacting the ball after the peak of the bounce
Backspin long and high
  • Counter drive contacting the ball at or before the peak of the bounce with an open racket
     
  • Smash if the ball bounces really high but adjust the racket angle to match the backspin
Backspin long and low
  • Control loop contacting the ball after the peak of the bounce
     

When faced with a short ball, most players have a tendency to “play safe” and execute a “push”. Whereas a short ball with very heavy backspin can be safely pushed back, there are times when it is not safe or outright disastrous to be passive when the ball has topspin. Attacking short balls not only provide variation in one’s play, it is a very useful weapon as well. The following choices of attacking shots are what I recommend an all-round player to practice against short balls:

Ball Type
Attacking shot to take
Topspin short and high
  • Counter drive contacting the ball at or before the peak of the bounce with a closed racket
     
  • Smash if the ball bounces really high
Topspin short and low
  • Loop drive contacting the ball at or before the peak of the bounce
Backspin short and high
  • Counter drive with an open racket contacting the ball at or before the peak of the bounce
     
  • Smash if the ball bounces really high but adjust the racket angle to match the backspin
Light backspin short and low
  • Loop drive contacting the ball at or before the peak of the bounce
     
Heavy backspin short and low
  • Flip contacting the ball at the peak of the bounce
     

Create charts of your own that fir your style and equipment used and practice them before using them in real game situtations. When you have to decide which attacking shot to take in a game, you will be happy you did.