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By Larry Hodges

The flip is an aggressive return of a shortball-a ball that would land on your side of the table twice if given the chance. It's most often used against short serves and shourt pushes. On the backhand side, the flip is basically the same as a backhand drive, but on the forehand it's different.

A flip can be done either crosscourt, down the line, or to the middle. Flip to your opponent's weaker side most of the time (usually down the line to the backhand), but usually go crosscourt whenever you go for a very aggressive flip ( so you'll have more margin for error.) An aggressive flip to a player's middle (elbow) is also very effective, because your opponent may have trouble deciding whether to return with a forehand or a backhand.

A flip is done against a ball that has landed short. If it lands short on the forehand side, it can be awkward to reach. For this shot, you'll also need to learn stepping-in footwork.


You could use a normal forehand drive against a short ball to the forehand, but it would be awkward because the table is in the way. A Flip is less awkward and more deceptive. But don't overuse the flip; just the threat of it makes your other returns more effective. Too many flips and your opponent gets used to them.


When your opponent serves or pushes short, you'll have to step in to flip. If you reach over the table you'll be off balance and have trouble controlling the shot, especially if you're short. Even tall players have to step in, or they too will not hit their best shot. Most players have little trouble reaching a ball short to their backhand but find it very awkward to deal with the short one the forehand unless they step in.

If you're a step or so away from the table, step forward first with your left leg, getting it close to the endline. If you're already close, don't move the left leg. The longer your legs are, the easier stepping in will be.

Step in with your right leg under the table and toward the ball. Get the leg as far under the table as you can comfortably. Most of your weight should now be on the right foot. Reach over the table with the racket, with your body facing where the contact will be. Against backspin, cock your wrist down and open the racket; otherwise, cock your wrist straight back and keep the racket perpendicular to the floor.  Bring the racket to a position just behind the contact point.

Bring the racket forward with your elbow. Then snap your wrist forward (and slightly up against backspin.) Your wrist should rotate at contact, which closes the racket some. Contact should be an upward grazing motion against backspin for control, or straight through and forward against topspin or for extra speed. The stroke against backspin and topspin is essentially the same, but you should open your racket more and stroke slightly up against backspin.

Contact should be on the back bottom of the ball against backspin, on the back or top back of the ball against other  spins. Make sure to contact the ball directly opposite where you want it to go. When flipping, make sure to flip to wide angles-either crosscourt at a wide angle or straight down the line (unless you go after your opponent's middle.) Step back quickly, and return to ready position.

If the ball you're flipping is high, "flip kill" it. This is just a flip at full power. Use both wrist and elbow snap for power, and go crosscourt so you'll have more room.

Copyright © Larry Hodges.


Last Update : 06 November, 2002

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