Multiball is a method of table tennis training that was first introduced by the Chinese. It works extremely well in one-to-one situations (such as private coaching), where the coach is working with just one player, but it can also be used successfully with a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of coach to players, or in group training sessions (where, as players, you feed multiball for each other).
Multiball is not only for advanced table tennis players. It can be incorporated into the practice sessions of all ability groups, from absolute beginners learning how to play a forehand drive, to intermediate and advanced players.
For a great introduction to multiball, I recommend watching this short video produced by the ETTA. It gives you a chance to watch some different types of multiball and explains the significance of multiball in modern table tennis training.
Why use multiball training?
You may have never used multiball training before but here are some reasons why it may be time to pick up a bucket of balls and start giving it a go;
- Multiball increases the quantity (and often the quality) of balls you can receive in a short period of time. There is no time waste picking up the ball as the rally breaks down and it is often easier for your coach/feeder to put the ball in the right place.
- Multiball is extremely versatile and can be used to improve footwork, power, speed, reaction time, fitness, endurance and anticipation.
- Multiball is great for trying new things as it removes the fear of missing the table. This can help the confidence of players and encourage development.
Typical multiball drills
There are so many possibilities that it would be unrealistic for me to list them all in a single post. Here are a few examples;
- A constant feed to a fixed area on the table. The player can practice a certain shot such as their forehand topspin.
- A footwork pattern feed. The player can do a footwork exercise such as Falkenberg with multiball. Can be regular or irregular.
- A short feed followed by a string of topspin balls. The player is practicing a game situation where they receive a short serve and then react to, and counter, a random attacking point.
- A backspin feed using two players. The first player opens up the backspin feed with a loop, the second player is on the side of the coach and plays a counter topspin to the first player stroke.
I have created my Table Tennis Drill Directory as a free tool for table tennis players. It lists 100’s of table tennis drills and, when available, has videos for you to watch. If you would like some more in-depth advice on multiball drill that is the place to go!
How to feed multiball well
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a coach that will feed to multiball you will likely have to learn to feed yourself and practice with another player or in a group. Here are some tips for feeding multiball;
- Place sufficient spin on the ball. A standard feed needs lots of topspin for it to be realistic. A float feed is horrible to play against, unless that is particular what you are trying to work on.
- Pick up 3/4 balls at a time. You will never be able to feed at a fast enough speed if you are picking up the balls one at a time. Practice grabbing a handful at a time.
- Small bounce on backspin feeds. It’s hard to give a good feed with a high bounce. Just drop the ball from 2/3 inches above the table and feed with a very open bat angle.
- Keep your eyes on the player. This can be hard to do at first but really you should be watching the person you’re feeding not looking at the balls. Spot errors and correct them.
- Keep trying. Nobody is any good at feeding multiball on their first try. It feels unnatural and you worry that the person you;re feeding is getting fed up. Work through it. It will get easier!
Multiball is great and can really help to increase the speed of your development. It’s extremely versatile and can be used for players at all levels. You are never too good or not good enough to use multiball! It may be hard to get to grips with at first and you may feel that it’s not really working for you but battle through this phase and you’ll soon find it easier and see the benefits.
Do you use multiball in your own training? Have you had any positive/negative experiences with it? Please leave a comment below and share your story with the rest of the Expert Table Tennis crowd.