On most occasions’ players see a long push as a more defensive shot or a last resort when a strong flick or short touch isn’t possible, but this is not the case if your pushing with purpose! In the modern game many players elect to use a flick or short touch very often when returning, however a long push can still be a hugely effective weapon when used in the right way- So here are some great tips to get you pushing with purpose!
#1 Use the wrist
By keeping a relaxed grip and using the wrist to brush through under the ball you can add more spin and quality to your long pushes and make it easier to accelerate into the ball. This in turn makes it more difficult for your opponent to attack strongly and put you under pressure. Using the wrist also allows for better control and precise movements, which makes it easier to change direction and feel the ball better adding to the consistency of your pushes. Players often become tense, especially when trying to push faster or into a specific area on the table. So, focus on making use of the wrist on both backhand and forehand pushes, the best way to bring this element in is using the wrist in a short sharp forward motion at the end of the stroke too add that extra zip to the shot.
#2 Depth in the table
Getting the ball deep in the table when pushing is an absolute must, if the ball is landing halfway up the opponent’s side even with a fair amount of backspin it is much easier for them to deal with. However, if you can get the ball close to the opponent’s white line and deep in the table as well as low, it’s much more challenging to play an effective topspin. So, practice pushing the ball positively and deep into the table, a great way to do this is by putting a towel on the end of the table and trying to hit this, or by using targets on the opponent’s white line! Again, remember a push doesn’t have to be a negative shot so practice hitting your pushes with a good acceleration through the ball, this coupled with a fine contact underneath the ball will help hit the ball deeper and with greater spin!
#3 Bat angle and following the ball
Adjusting the bat angle to incoming spin when pushing will allow you to maintain control and cut out unnecessary mistakes in this area of the game, so a flatter bat when there is more backspin and slightly more tilted when there is less or no spin. A common error we see with this shot is changing the bat angle during the shot, ensure as you are hitting the ball to maintain the same bat angle and an even plane through the shot, so imagine your bat must move forward in a straight line whilst keeping the bat angle fixed as you make contact. In addition, many players stop the bat once they have hit the ball when pushing, although we don’t want a long stroke it’s important to follow the bat through the ball and finish in the direction you want the push to travel. Imagine the feeling of dragging the bat across the bottom of the ball and brushing forward, this will help to keep the ball low and generate spin and control.
To really push with purpose timing the ball correctly is vital, as with a lot of strokes in table tennis. If you want to have effective pushes you need to take the ball early, just before the peak of the bounce is ideal timing to do this, so just before the ball reaches the highest point is when you should be looking to make contact. By doing this and not letting the ball drop to late it makes it easier to keep the ball low over the net (never a bad thing!) as well as giving your opponent less time. Be sure to stay low when stepping in for your pushes and keep your head and body close to the ball to maintain balance and control.
Pushing into a difficult area for your opponent, e.g. wide into the corners or even better right into the crossover position (The right hip for right handers or left hip for left handers). This might seem obvious but can easily be neglected in the heat of battle or when under pressure. So always try to think about the best possible placement, this could vary depending on who your playing, for example someone with a particularly weak backhand topspin it’s a good idea to play more pushes into that area whilst of course keeping some variation for the element of surprise.
For more information on this topic check out our recent video on how to make your long pushes more effective here.
So, make use of these tips and be sure that you are pushing with purpose!