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Table Tennis Terms

  • Anti-topspin - a rubber type that deactivates spin and speed, returning a "dead" ball
  • Backhand - a stroke done directly in front of the body, with the racket turned so that the back of the hand faces the opponent
  • Backspin - a type of spin where, if struck with a normal racket position, the ball would not make it over the net
  • Block - a defensive shot done mostly against loops and smashes, where the racket is in a closed position to keep the ball on the table
  • Chop - a defensive shot that carries a tremendous amount of backspin
  • Closed - a racket angle that allows the top of the ball to be struck
  • Dead ball - a ball returned without any spin. Very difficult to execute, read, and return
  • Doubles - a format in table tennis where two people play on each side and must alternate turns at striking the ball
  • Drive - an offensive shot used mostly as a setup or in rallies, where the racket is in a normal position and the ball is struck at a medium pace
  • Drop shot - a surprise shot where the ball is placed precisely near the net
  • Expedite rule - after a time limit (10 minutes) has expired during a single game, the receiver automatically wins the point if he/she returns the ball successfully 13 times in a row. This forces the server to change his rallying tactics.
  • Forehand - a stroke done to the right-front (for right-handers) of the body, with the racket in a normal position (palm of hand facing opponent)
  • International Table Tennis Federation - the international governing body for the sport of table tennis
  • Inverted - See pips-in
  • Let - a stoppage of play as a result of a serve hitting the net or interference from outside the playing court
  • Lob - a defensive shot used against high-speed balls, where the ball (usually with unpredictable spin) is returned very high in the air, causing difficulty in timing and technique
  • Long pips - a rubber type whose surface consists of fairly long pimples. Produces unpredictable spin.
  • Loop - an offensive shot that carries a tremendous amount of topspin
  • Match - a competition format with the winner winning two of three or three of five games
  • Medium-long - a serve whose second bounce, given the opportunity, would bounce near the very end or just off the table. Difficult because the opponent cannot execute a good attacking stroke
  • Open - a racket angle that allows the bottom of the ball to be struck
  • Penhold - a grip where the racket is held exactly as it sounds, with the racket handle held straight up and down
  • Pips-in - a rubber type whose surface is smooth yet gripping. Produces much spin and in many cases better speed. Also known as inverted rubber
  • Pips-out - a rubber type whose surface consists of many tiny pimples. Produces much control and speed, but little spin
  • Push - a defensive shot used to successfully return backspin shots, where the racket is open to lift the backspin over the net
  • Receive - return of service, usually done tactically to set up an attack
  • Seemiller - Name of 5 time US champion Dan Seemiller. Also the name of a table tennis grip
  • Serve - the beginning of a point where one player strikes the ball after tossing it. Usually used tactically to set up a strong attack
  • Set - one game to 21 points in a match
  • Shakehands - a grip where the racket is held exactly as it sounds but with the middle, ring, and pinky fingers wrapped around the handle
  • Short - a serve that, given the opportunity, would bounce at least twice on the table. Difficult because the opponent cannot execute a good attacking stroke
  • Sidespin - a type of spin where, if struck with a normal racket position, the ball would travel either to the right or left without landing on the table
  • Skunk - an informal rule in table tennis that says that a player wins a game at a score of 7-0 or 11-1
  • Smash - an offensive, high-speed shot used against high balls, where the racket is in a normal position to generate the most speed possible. Also called a kill
  • Topspin - a type of spin where, if struck with a normal racket position, the ball would travel over the opposite side of the table without hitting the surface