Defensive strokes in Ping Pong

The push (or "slice" in Asia) is usually used for keeping the point alive and creating offensive opportunities.

A push resembles a tennis slice: the racket cuts underneath the ball, imparting backspin and causing the ball to float slowly to the other side of the table. While not obvious, a push can be difficult to attack because the backspin on the ball causes it to drop toward the table upon striking the opponent's racket. In order to attack a push, a player must usually loop the ball back over the net. Often, the best option for beginners is to simply push the ball back again, resulting in pushing rallies. Against good players, it may be the worst option because the opponent will counter with a loop, putting the first player in a defensive position. Another response to pushing is flipping the ball when it is close to the net. Pushing can have advantages in some circumstances, such as when the opponent makes easy mistakes.


A chop is the defensive, backspin counterpart to the offensive loop drive. A chop is essentially a bigger, heavier push, taken well back from the table. The racket face points primarily horizontally, perhaps a little bit upward, and the direction of the stroke is straight down. The object of a defensive chop is to match the topspin of the opponent's shot with backspin. A good chop will float nearly horizontally back to the table, in some cases having so much backspin that the ball actually rises. Such a chop can be extremely difficult to return due to its enormous amount of backspin. Some defensive players can also impart no-spin or sidespin variations of the chop.


The block is a simple shot, but nonetheless can be devastating against an attacking opponent. A block is executed by simply placing the racket in front of the ball right after the ball bounces; thus, the ball rebounds back toward the opponent with nearly as much energy as it came in with. This is not as easy as it sounds, because the ball's spin, speed, and location all influence the correct angle of a block. It is very possible for an opponent to execute a perfect loop, drive, or smash, only to have the blocked shot come back at him just as fast. Due to the power involved in offensive strokes, often an opponent simply cannot recover quickly enough, and will be unable to return the blocked shot. Blocks almost always produce the same spin as was received, usually topspin.


The defensive lob is possibly the most impressive shot, since it propels the ball about five metres in height, only to land on the opponent's side of the table with great amounts of spin. To execute, a defensive player first backs-off the table 4–6 meters; then, the stroke itself consists of lifting the ball to an enormous height before it falls back to the opponent's side of the table. A lob is inherently a creative shot, and can have nearly any kind of spin. Top-quality players use this to their advantage in order to control the spin of the ball. For instance, though the opponent may smash the ball hard and fast, a good defensive lob could be more difficult to return due to the unpredictability and heavy amounts of the spin on the ball. Thus, though backed off the table by tens of feet and running to reach the ball, a good defensive player can still win the point using good lobs. However, at the professional level, lobbers will lose the point most of the time, so the lob is not used unless it is really necessary.