Definition: The phrase ‘playing elbow’ is used in table tennis to describe the area in front of a player, in which the player has to choose between hitting a forehand or backhand stroke, and neither stroke is significantly easier to play, making the decision more difficult. You can see a visual representation of the playing elbow here.
The size and placement of this target will vary from player to player, although a general guide would be the 6-9 inches on each side of the elbow of the player’s racket arm, hence the name.
The playing elbow is a favorite target of opponents, since hitting the ball to a player’s playing elbow forces that player to decide quickly whether to play forehand and backhand, and then move accordingly to play the stroke, since neither forehand or backhand can be played at their best without moving position.
Also Known As: crossover point, area of indecision