How to handle short and half-long serves to FH?

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Well-Known Member
Oct 2022
Since I don't have a coach, I often kinda discover TT philosophy on my own with playing experience. One thing I have discovered is that it is a lot easier to return serve with the BH. Particularly, it's much easier to flick and generate spin with the bh, especially on short or half long balls.

I find that I am stuck on the fh side though. I can't flick it. It's too short to loop with the forehand without hitting the table. How can you handle these short, half-spinny balls on the fh side? I find that all I can do is a neutral push.
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I hate those short balls too especially if it's randomly half long. Short receives don't work all that well with half long serves.

Best imo is probably a sideswipe or a soft flick imo (most error tolerant). If I'm feeling good I will really look to punish the half long serve and flick the short serve (if it's not underspin)/short push if it's underspin.
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says Looking for a bat that makes me faster
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Active Member
Jan 2023
The FH flick is a bit like a drive, unlike the BH flick where you have lots of room to coil up and really brush the ball. If it is heavy backspin and short, just do a short push, you can't flick everything effectively (if you can you are way better than your opponent already). if it is half long and not much backspin you can brush loop it over the table. Or do it like Timo Boll:

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May 2023
I've been having this issue as well and what I was told to try was to get a little more in the forwards direction with my flick if it's in the short to half-long range. I normally have a lot of issues after the flick in terms of getting back into position, so I've been trying to flick towards the backhand line more.

If it's something I don't think I can get to from half-long, I just come over and backhand flick it.
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Feb 2020
Have you seen the way Lin Yun Ju plays? That's one way. Other times pros will push or FH flick depending on the spin. If you keep the return low and quickly move back to the correct ready position, you should have little trouble handling the third ball attempt and counter any weak one.
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Jan 2016
I'm very bad with these balls.
my main problem is that when i step to the ball, its a bit slow AND im not staying low.
then i play the ball with upper body too high / too far from the ball, and rushing it

so now you know what NOT to do, here is how I try to get better:

- when moving to the ball, not just move the right leg, but first the left leg (a little bit) and then the right leg to get a better balance and be closer to the ball. it helps also for the rhythm. also sometimes, depending on the waiting position, the left foot could even go slightly on the LEFT side to maintain a WIDER stance and stay low

- never RUSH to play the ball. If I move slow, then let it be, but wait to be stable before playing.

- try to have a very loose grip especially before hitting the ball. it will help absorb energy, and enable to not commit the shot too early ie. change at the last split second

- lower the chin and look at the ball. thats the coach advice ! and it does help A LOT !
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