Expert Table Tennis is back! I’ve been super busy with other projects over the past year. I even launched a gin (Pipehouse Gin) with my friend Sam Priestley and our wives – but I’ve finally found the time to get back into posting here.
This is a good one, all about how to improve faster at table tennis. The following is a guest post written by Emma White from PongBoss.com! Enjoy. I’ll be back with my own blog articles soon. And I’m also looking at recording some new episodes of the podcast. But now, over to Emma…
One of the most common concerns that table tennis players express is their frustration with slow progress. Practice can become frustrating and it may feel like there is a glass ceiling that prevents forward movement. Although there are no shortcuts in table tennis, there are some ways that are better than others.
So, what is the fastest way to improve?
The fastest way to improve is…
1. Get a table tennis coach
Many players are resistant to this because they believe that if they practice hard enough they will improve regardless. Although this definitely helps, there are benefits that a coach can provide that will help you progress more quickly. A coach has experience in reaching elite player status and knows what it takes to get there.
A table tennis coach can assess your current skill level and develop a program to improve key aspects of your game.
- You’ll learn how to perform your own assessment of the game and to incorporate key shots that can help you to get to the 11 points needed.
- Your style will be taken into consideration and the training program will be tailored to fit your current needs.
- You’ll learn how to improve the shots that you make so they are more effective in tournament play.
- You’ll more quickly realize which areas need work and receive tips and recommendations about how to do so.
This kind of analysis and advisement can save you a lot of time and effort, and aid you in becoming a better table tennis player much faster than if you go it on your own.
But what if you can’t afford a coach?
Not everybody can get a coach. Does this mean you are doomed to stay at your current level? Not at all. There are a lot of things you can do that will put you ahead of the players that are just hitting the ball without thinking. Only deliberate, focused practice will make you a better player.
Here are some of the best things you can do…
2. Purchase some online video coaching
If you can’t get access to private one-to-one table tennis coaching in person (either due to limitations regarding cost or location) the next best thing is online training or video coaching lessons. There are quite a few good options available at the moment.
The $297 option TableTennisUniversity.com is one of the best. It’s delivered by Coach Tao Li, who is an ex-Chinese national team player and Junior National Champion! The courses contains everything you need to know to become a top table tennis player and is split up into 52 video lessons, 148 drill demonstrations, and 60 coach question videos.
3. Videotape your games
Whether you’re playing in tournaments or playing with friends and family… videotape your matches!
During the playback, analyze yourself in play. Pay special attention to what you’re doing when you lose points. When you determine your weak areas you can focus on strengthening your techniques where it’s needed.
Are you in tune with what the other player is doing? Are you watching for the spin of the ball and responding appropriately? These are just a few things to keep in mind when you’re reviewing your performance.
4. Watch professional players
You can either attend matches to watch the pros in action, or view matches on video or online. Take note of their style, the shots they make, their delivery of the ball, their stance, movement, and style.
You won’t necessarily need to copy their style, but you can pick up some useful tips and learn from observation. See what they do in the areas where you need to improve, then put it into practice against another player in training.
5. Work on your footwork technique
Good footwork is an essential table tennis skill. It is impossible to be a great table tennis player without excellent command of this ability. For this reason, mastering and knowing when to switch footwork techniques can help you to significantly improve your game.
Because table tennis is a fast sport, accurately predicting shots and ball placement is difficult in a competitive match. Proper footwork gets you in the best position to hit the ball, increasing the quality of your shot.
6. Play against a variety of players
You can find an assortment of players with different styles and skill levels by joining a table tennis club. Play different players to get diversity in your experience. It’s helpful to have your current skill level challenged and if you can find players that have more experience, it will help you to advance more quickly.
This is where videotaping your matches will come in handy. If they win the match, analyze the game and find out why. This will give you an area to target in your training.
7. Use the same racket every time
Find a table tennis paddle that feels good in your hand and delivers the performance that suits your style as a player. And then use this racket only.
Each racket type is different and may perform differently. It’s important to get a feel for the racket and how it responds. If you use a variety of different rackets, it may impede your progress because of the differences in performance.
8. Work on your reaction speed
The best table tennis players have a fast reaction. Players who develop lightning fast reflexes have an edge over those who have not yet mastered the skill. There are a few different things that you can do to increase your reflexes and up your game faster. Of course, training in table tennis is good, but there are off table exercises that will also help.
Physical exercises that help to improve hand/eye coordination are also helpful. Games of catch or dodgeball are excellent off table activities that an improve the speed of your reflexes/reaction time.
9. Use your entire body in forehand strokes
Put your all into the game by using your body instead of just your arms. You’ll put more power into each shot.
Your shoulders and hips should rotate backwards when making a backswing as you move into your forehand stroke. As you hit the ball for your forehand, your hips and body should rotate forward. The reason for this is that it transfers the weight of your body from the back foot to the front and gives you more force in your stroke.
10. Find the right partner
Finding a practice partner with similar goals can help you advance your game more quickly. Start with someone that is at the same playing level that you’re at and set up a regular practice schedule.
While it’s a good idea to play against a variety of different players, some with higher skill levels than yours now and then, playing with a partner at the same level consistently will help you improve with a little less pressure and you’re more likely to be innovative in your approach when you’re in your comfort zone for training purposes.
Like I said, the best and fastest way to get better at table tennis is to train under the guidance of a coach. He or she can help you to avoid making common mistakes when you’re attempting to improve your game.
A coach knows more about table tennis than you do and can point out mistakes you’re making and offer tips on how to reach your full potential more quickly than if you take the trial and error approach.
The other things in the article will definitely help, but if you incorporate them in your routine and work with a table tennis coach you will advance so fast that no one will believe you just started playing a year ago!