Have you got overwhelmed with some fancy words used by your peers while playing table tennis with them? Not to worry now. In this article I will try to cover as much as possible terms used in table tennis which will help you understand the Table Tennis vocabulary. Every sport has its own jargon and as a Table Tennis player, you definitely need to know them. So lets go!


  • BACKHAND: A shot done with the racket to the left of the elbow for a right hander, the reverse for a lefthander. Also abbreviated as BH

    • FOREHAND: A shot done with the racket to the right of elbow for a right hander, the reverse for a left hander. Also abbreviated as FH.

      • SPIN: The rotation of a ball. Topspin: Spin placed on a ball to allow it to curve down onto the table.
      • BACKSPIN: When the ball rotates backwards after being hit. It is also called as Underspin.

      • TOPSPIN: When the ball rotates backwards after being hit. It is also called as Underspin.

      • SIDESPIN: When the ball rotates sideways either on the left or right after being hit.
      • SERVE: The first shot, done by the server. It begins with the ball being thrown up from palm of hand and struck by the racket.
      • RECEIVE: The return of a serve.
      • STROKE: Any shot used in the game, including the serve.
      • DRIVE: When the ball does not rotate but it is a plain shot by tapping the ball forward with the racket.
      • SMASH: A put away shot. Ball is hit with enough speed so the opponent can not make a return.
      • COUNTER- DRIVE: A drive made against a drive. Some players specialize in counter-driving.
      • PUSH: A push is an underspin shot executed over the table, and usually close to the net. This is a passive shot that is used when it is impossible to attack a ball.
      • RACKET: Same as bat.
      • RALLY: The period in which the ball is in play.
      • BLADE: Wooden part of bat. Also called as ply.
      • SHAKEHAND GRIP: The most commonly used grip while playing Table Tennis.


      • PENHOLD GRIP: Also known as the Chinese grip. Used mainly by the Chinese & Koreans.

      • PENHOLDER: A type of grip giving the best possible forehand but the most awkward backhand of the conventional grips.
      • REVERSE BACKHAND: The backhand stroke used by a penholder.
      • TOSS: Tossing the ball high in the air with the palm of the hand.
      • HIGH TOSS SERVE: When the serve is tossed minimum 5-6 ft. in the air. This serve is used as a great tactic by professional players as this serve has acted as a great weakness for many opponents. However, mastering this serve is a great skill. Not doing it right could give away cheap points.
      • BLOCK: A quick, off the bounce return done from an aggressive topspin or drive by just holding the racket in the ball's path.
      • CHOP: It’s a heavy underspin shot generally used by defensive players. It’s usually executed away from the table and below the table top. A chop forces the ball to drop downwards when it hits an opponent’s racket.
      • KILL: A put away shot. Ball is hit with enough speed so the opponent cannot make a return.
      • LOB: A shot played far from the table where most of the shot returns are high in the air with generally 6 ft. above the table with no upper bar.
      • DEAD: A ball without any spin.
      • DEEP: A ball that lands deep on the table. A serve that will not bounce twice on the opponent's side of the table if given the chance is also considered deep.
      • DRIVE: The basic topspin shot executed close to the table. Also called a counter, counter drive, or smash.
      • LOOP: The shot that currently dominates the sport. This is an extreme topspin shot. This curve allows the player to hit the ball harder and still rely on the spin of the ball to cause the ball to dive down onto the table. Also, a loop will 'skip' on the table top taking sharp changes in directions. A loop will also tend to 'pop' upwards when it strikes the opponents racket. The opponent has to deal with
      1. A curving ball,
      2. A ball that changes directions when it hits the table, and
      3. A ball that will jump off his racket unpredictably unless he compensates for spin.

      A loop will also counter heavy spin (topspin or underspin) from an opponent. It can be executed above or below the table top, close or far away from the table.

      • DROP SHOT: Short placement - very close to the net. A key point in making a drop shot is to not allow the ball to fall off the table after the first bounce. i.e. Drop shots should bounce at least twice on the opponents side of the table before falling off.
      • AROUND THE NET: When player hits the ball but not over the net. The ball lands on the opponent’s court from the side of the net. This is considered as a valid shot and it takes years of practice to master this stroke. 
      • FLAT: A ball that has no spin, usually travelling with good pace.
      • FLICK OR FLIP: A shot generated over the table close to the net, usually with the power generated only from the upper arm or the wrist. Used to start offense on a short ball.
      • CROSS- COURT: A ball that is hit diagonally from corner to corner.
      • DOWN THE LINE: A ball that is hit along the side of the table, parallel to the sidelines, is hit down the line.

      • WINNER: A term used when the player hits the shot in such a way that the player is in no condition to return the ball on the table.
      • FOOTWORK: How a person moves to make a shot.
      • POINT: A unit of scoring in table tennis.
      • LET: Service ball hitting the net or a distraction that causes the point played over.
      • TIME OUT


      There could be times when you are losing badly in a table tennis match and your brain is not tactically able to think. That’s the time when you need a break. This is allowed officially as well. ITTF allows each player to take a time out of 1 minute between a set only once. This is not a mandatory thing.


      The player can take it only if he or she thinks it is necessary. Want to take a time out? Just do a hand gesture with a T-sign, the umpire shall allow you for the same. While taking a time out, a player needs to keep his/her racket at the table and is not allowed to take it along unless both the umpire and the opponent approves for the same.


      • GAME: Set. Each game is played to 11 points unless a deuce occurs.
      • GAME POINT: Last point of a game.
      • HITTER: A style of play where hitting is the primary shot.
      • CHOPPER: A style of play where chopping is the primary shot.
      • LOBBER: A style of play lobbing is the primary shot.
      • LOOPER: A style of play where the primary shot is the loop.
      • 3rd BALL ATTACK: An attack when in the; 1st ball – Player serves, 2nd ball – Opponent returns, 3rd ball – Player attacks in such a way that the opponent is not able to return the ball.
      • Sponge: The part of the table tennis rubber which helps the racket to give additional speed.
      • Top sheet: The top part of the racket above the sponge.
      • ITTF: International Table Tennis Federation, founded 1926, is the world governing body of the sport, and its members are the table tennis Associations of more than 150 countries.
      • JUNK: Rubber that produce no spin, such as anti-spin and long-pips.
      • PIPS: The small conical bits of rubber that cover a sheet of table tennis rubber.
      • PIPS OUT: A type of racket covering. It consists of a sheet of pips out rubber on top of a layer of sponge. The pips point outward, the opposite of inverted.

      • Rating: A number that is assigned to players after their first tournament. The better  the player the higher the rating should be.
      • TWIDDLE: Same as twirl.
      • TWIRL: Turning of the paddle, used for confusing opponents on which side of the paddle is being used. Not as deceptive now due to the two color law, namely black on one side and bright red on the other side. Usually utilized with combination bat.

      So that's about it. However difficult it may sound at beginning, do not give up because practice makes us perfect. Checkout our bestsellers in Decathlon and start your journey now!

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