How to Return Backspin In Table Tennis (Complete Guide)

Pass the Ball to Someone Else!

Returning backspin in Table Tennis can be tricky at times. You can always take the safe route and return it with a backspin, but then the game will just go back and forth.

How do you return backspin in table tennis then? It depends, here are your options:

How to Return Backspin In Table Tennis

There are different ways to return backspin in table tennis, here they are;

  • Looping – The way to go when the ball is long and you want to pressure the opponent.
  • Backspin – best for short balls or when it already has heavy backspin.
  • Flicking – best for short balls without a lot of backspin, to surprise your opponent.

Different Methods for Returning Backspin

As mentioned above, there are of course multiple methods for returning backspin. Here’s a longer explanation for situations each return is best suited.

Returning With a Loop – Best Option

Returning backspin with a loop is typically the best option if you want to pressure your opponent. It also “opens up” the point, which at some point you or the opponent have to do. This allows you to place your opponent where you want them and switches the pace.

If you are first to open, statistically you should be the winner of the point.

Returning With Backspin

Returning backspin balls with another backspin is the best option if you feel the ball has too much underspin, and can’t reach it for a loop. Returning the ball with a backspin requires you to keep the underspin your opponent handed you, or increase it. You can often lightly touch the ball with underspin for it to smoothly go over the net.

Be careful when returning backspin with backspin though! It will typically make the ball go further on the opponents side, causing your opponent to be the one to first open the ball.

Returning With a Flick

Returning with a flick is the best option when the ball has slight backspin, and is close to the net. A flick quickly changes the pace of the game and can surprise your opponent. It can also be disguised as a backspin return, especially when doing it with a forehand.

In order for the ball to actually go over the net though, make sure to really emphasize the flick motion. Another tip is to try applying sidespins to your flicks, this will cause confusion and surprise your opponent.

How To Return a Backspin Serve?

Returning a backspin serve is hard at times, there’s no denying that. Especially if it includes a lot of backspin, involves a twirl or is disguised as another type of spin. A pendulum serve for example, can generate topspin, backspin, sidespin and a flat quick hit to one of the corners. Make sure to position yourself correctly almost in the middle of the table to not be surprised.

Flick – Best Option On Short Ball

If the ball is short, returning a backspin serve with a flick is an excellent idea to immediately open the point. Be careful here though, as the ball can easily go in the net – aim high and flick hard.

Another good idea here is to push the ball into the opposite corner of where your opponent stands.


Backspin serves are often short, which means they can easily be returned with backspin. It isn’t really recommended though as it most of the time lands the ball far on your opponents side.

This allows them to open the ball instead of you. As we mentioned previously – the player first to open the point statistically wins the point more often.

To prevent the ball from going far, hit the ball with a really soft stroke.

Loop – Best Option On Long Ball

Looping immediately on a backspin serve can be difficult, which is why it’s recommended to do it with forehand. A forehand loop gives you a lot longer stroke, which allows you to “loop up” the backspin. Start very low and stroke the ball softly, it will be a slow loop, but very spinny if you master it.

Looping on a backspin serve is only possible if the ball lands far on your side of the table.

How to return ghost serve?

The famous ghost serve is a serve that has so much backspin it travels back to the server’s side. This makes it very hard to return, especially with an offensive strike.

The good thing though, is the fact that most opponents doesn’t actually master it, and therefore it isn’t going to land equal every time. Sometimes it will land too far on your side of the table, allowing you to open it up and mix up your playstyle.


Opening a ghost serve with a flick can be done, but ghost serves typically has a lot of backspin. Therefore you need to flick it hard and high for it not to be a netball. We wouldn’t really recommend returning it with a flick, unless your opponent is bad at ghost serves and the ball doesn’t have a lot of backspin.

Backspin – Best Option

The number one way to return a ghost serve is with backspin. A good idea here is to push your opponent to a far side of the table. Aim at placing the ball very far into the opposite corner to where your opponent is currently standing.

Sometimes this will result in your opponent not being able to loop it, causing either a netball or a very poor backspin ball in return. This allows you to open the point on your terms.

Keep in mind though, that this can also allow your opponent to loop the ball, meaning a disadvantage for you.


A loop to return a ghost serve is pretty much not on the map. A ghost serve is meant to land as close to the net as possible, which it will unless your opponent messes up. This means that a loop will simply lead to a netball. Looping is out of the question when it comes to returning ghost serves.

How to Return Backspin In Table Tennis?

A loop is most suitable if the ball is long and you want to pressure the opponent. A backspin return is best if it’s a short ball or if it’s heavy backspin. Returning with a flick is a good option if it’s a short ball, you want to change the pace and the ball doesn’t have a lot of underspin.


As you can notice, there are a lot of ways you can return backspin in table tennis. What return you want to use is up to you, your playstyle and your opponent. Read up on all the methods and apply them in different situations.