The game of table tennis has been through many changes. From the introduction of sponge to the invention and banning of speed glue. To the more recent change to the plastic ball. Table tennis is always evolving. With each evolution, players need to adapt. Styles change and different techniques become more superior.
Liam Pitchford showing off his backhand – Image via ITTF Flickr
Due to the introduction of the poly-ball, players are staying at the table more often. Closer to the table there is less time, so shorter aggressive shots are needed. It is much easier and more efficient to use backhands to maintain aggression close to the table. Forehands have a longer swing and therefore require a longer time to complete. With this, we have seen a change in the way many players are approaching the game.
One reason that Ma Long has been able to continue being successful during this change is his adaptation from a forehand pivot monster not too dissimilar to Wang Liqin, into a player that can control the table from the backhand. His backhand corner is impenetrable, allowing him to stay closer and be ultra aggressive whilst looking to get his forehand in.
Liam Pitchford is another player who has really excelled since the ball change. His short explosive backhand is so effective he is competing against the likes of Ma Long and Xu Xin. This shows just how important it is to have a strong backhand. Relying only on your forehand is no longer a viable option with the increased speed of the game.
If you want to improve your game in the modern era, a focus on your backhand will help considerably. Being able to attack from your backhand is the way to go if you want to improve.