How to Play Table Tennis

So you want to know how to play table tennis? Well, you’ve come to the right place…

Hi, I’m Ben Larcombe¬†and this is my site. On this page I’ll be taking you through the technical process of learning how to play table tennis. We will focus on mastering the fundamentals of the game. Table tennis is a highly complex sport but at its simplest it can be broken down into just a few key parts. Go through and master each of these and you’ll be a proficient table tennis player in no time.

Actually, that’s not true. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from the Expert in a Year challenge, it’s that mastery takes time. If we are being realistic it could well take you a whole year, or more, just to perfect the basics. It may feel like the going is rather slow, and you’d rather move on to banana flicks, round-the-nets, and all sorts of other creative stuff, but stick with the fundamentals and I guarantee you will see results. After all, there are no points for ‘flair’. Table tennis, in its essence, is all about making fewer mistakes than your opponent.

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The Fundamentals of Table Tennis

The first thing we need to do is identify the fundamentals of table tennis. This can be tricky, and I’m sure different coaches have different ideas on this, but I like to include the following (and ignore everything else, for now)…

  1. Grip
  2. Stance
  3. Footwork
  4. Drive
  5. Push
  6. Serve
  7. Return

That’s seven things you’ll need to master and I recommend you tackle them in that order. I’m going to go through each of them, one-by-one, and hopefully give you all the help you need to start learning how to play table tennis.

You’re almost ready to start, but there are a few things you’re going to need to know (and do) before you can get going…

1. Buy a bat

You’re not going to get very far without a bat! You don’t need a really expensive one but it does need to be able to generate spin. Can I recommend you read my article highlighting the two most common mistakes beginners make when buying a table tennis bat. Avoid those and you are doing well. Then I would also suggest you read my most popular blog post of all time ‘The Best Table Tennis Bat for Beginners‘. In it I reveal what not to buy (lots of the bats sold by the ‘popular’ brands are really awful) and point out a few of my favourite table tennis bats.

2. Find a coach

Lots of beginners try and ‘go it alone’, teaching themselves how to play from YouTube videos and blog posts. This can work, but it isn’t easy. I actually wrote a blog post about how to become your own table tennis coach in response to so many readers emailing me saying that there isn’t a table tennis coach for miles around. To some extent you do need to take responsibility for your own development as a table tennis player but at the same time working with a coach, even for just an hour a week, is sure to pay dividends. Private coaching can be expensive but it’s worth it. Here are two reasons why it’s worth paying for individual coaching as a beginner.

3. Practice

I want to say this one more time before we get started; getting good at table tennis takes time! You need to understand that you’re not going to get it overnight. Table tennis is one of those sports where if you don’t know what you are doing an experienced player can absolutely wipe the floor with you. There is a good chance you are going to suck compared to some of the club players you’ll come up against. Stick at it. They have probably dedicated more hours to this sport than you can believe. Here are two tips for beginners thinking about how to plan their practice.

Now we’ve got that out of the way it’s time for the exciting stuff. It’s time to start learning how to play table tennis!

1. Grip

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