Correct Wrist Position During Strokes
By Larry Thoman
This column will consist of questions that have been asked of the staff at Newgy or our replies to questions posed on the table tennis newsgroup, rec.sport.table-tennis. This month's question was asked in an e-mail by Mark Galecki. We encourage readers to send in your own questions. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax or write us. All questions cannot be answered, but we will pick out one of them to answer in this column.
I use your lessons to train with your robot. You say, in the lesson on Shakehands Grip:
"Hold the racket so the edge of the racket is perpendicular to the floor and tilt your wrist slightly down. The wrist should remain in this downward tilt position throughout all your strokes. Do not force this downward tilt, but rather let the racket naturally fall into this position by relaxing the hand muscles."
I find it very awkward to do this for forehand push. Basically, when doing forward push, the natural wrist position for me is tilted in the direction of the thumb, especially if I push down-the-line (to the right court as seen by me). Should the "downward tilt" you are talking about be always interpreted as "towards the little finger", as it is in the ready stance, or should one forget it in case of forehand push?
Please do not let the wrist position bother you too much. It is true that many players find the "upward-tilt position" more comfortable for backspin strokes like the push. As a matter of fact, it may be preferable because this wrist position allows you to snap your wrist through the ball to apply heavy spin or not snap it, resulting in light spin.
The reason the book was written as it was is that it is intended to be guide to the basics. As such, it is much simpler, and usually leads to more consistent strokes, if the student does not use wrist when learning the strokes (except serves). Therefore, the quoted passage you sent in is a good rule of thumb when first learning the basic strokes. Once the basics are learned, however, wrist action becomes a key ingredient to many strokes at the higher levels.
Keep this in mind when you're reading our instructional manual or any other table tennis instructions. There are very few absolutes in our sport. In general, if you can consistently execute a certain shot and that technique gains you more points than you lose with it in a game, then it is OK, no matter who might declare it "bad form".
So, in this specific instance that you wrote about, your wrist position is perfectly OK as long as you can consistently perform the stroke and the resulting return doesn't cause you to consistently lose points in a game.
Thanks for writing.
- Jena Newgarden