Why table tennis strokes end at the forehead

It makes sense now! It was really a Eureka! moment on Tuesday when I figured it out. The stroke ends at the forehead because the stroke is much more forward than I was making it.

Recap: All the much better players' forehands end at their foreheads. Mine ends across my chest on the left side of my body. When I try to end my forehand by my forehead, I mess it up terribly. Until now.

Two weeks ago I came up with the following reasons / hypotheses for why a good stroke would end at the forehand. They were:

  1. Lower to the table is better
  2. Each stroke should prepare for the next stroke
  3. Don’t cut the stroke short
  4. Balance many concerns (1, 2, 3, hitting up and forward through the path of the ball, hitting toward the target, keeping balance, preparing for next stroke)

These are all valid reasons, but they didn’t do it for me. Then, on Tuesday (two days ago), it clicked. If I focus on hitting forward, the stroke comes out much better.

This is a bit counterintuitive since my forehead is up and right, not forward, relative to where my stroke used to end. Still, by focusing on hitting more forward, it seems I cannot cut the stroke short and I don’t move as much to the left. This should reduce side spin, maybe increase top spin, and definitely increase power on my strokes.

Now, I’ve only had the opportunity to play a small amount since making this realization. It’s still going to take lots of practice to incorporate this more fully into my game. It feels good though, the strokes are strong and natural. It doesn’t feel rote, but it does feel mostly intuitive, which is a good place to start from. Contrast this with when I was trying to land the stroke at my forehead. For those attempts, the stroke felt unnatural and I would usually miss.

Looking forward to drilling my new stroke extensively tonight.