In the game of ping pong, you will quickly discover that so many of the points that you win can come as a result of your basic skills. Having solid table tennis skills can often be the difference between you winning or losing an entire match. So many games in the Olympics and other International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) tournaments end with just a point or two of difference.
A lot of beginner and intermediate table tennis players would really love to get their skills up to the level of these professional players, but they don’t always know how to go about it. Let’s examine ten key table tennis tips to help you win your games more often.
Key Ping Pong Tip 1: Learn The Basics
The larger the amount of time you spend learning all of the basics of table tennis, the better you will be as a player. It is vital to take the time to learn how to hold your paddle properly, how to move your feet behind the end of the table, and how to play different spin shots.
Footwork is one of the most important aspects of table tennis. It may seem an effortless way to beat your opponents without moving too much, but if you face a better player, you will not stand a chance if you do not move around very much. Always try to place yourself in the best possible position to hit the ball. If you stand still you will have to twist your arm strangely and often you will miss the ball completely.
When you watch professional table tennis players, you’ll notice how far away they stand from the end of the table and the huge amount of backswing they take for some of their shots. This is something you’ll surely aspire to, but it is important to always think about your basic footwork right from the beginning. Identify the areas where you feel weak and constantly practice all of those until they become strengths.
Key Ping Pong Tip 2: Practice the Game Obsessively
As in all sports, there really is no substitute for practice, and you should spend as much time doing it as much as you can between competitive matches. Your practice sessions should include overcoming your weaknesses as well as developing your strengths. Remember that when you practice, you are trying to improve your game, but when you are playing in tournaments, you are trying to win.
If you get bored practicing on your own, you can always play a few informal practice games to develop new tactics or introduce new skills into your game. It’s also essential to watch yourself play, which is quite easy these days with video cameras that are so readily available. When you watch yourself play, you can clearly see what mistakes you are making and work on correcting them.
Key Ping Pong Tip 3: Learn How to Use Spin
Learning how to use spin can be a difficult journey, but it can also be the key to beating any player at any skill level. If you understand how spin affects your game, you’ll soon be able to use it to your advantage. Here are some ways you can start using topspin, backspin, and sidespin immediately.
Watch your opponent’s paddle carefully as he or she returns the ball because it will bounce off in the same direction when you touch it with your own paddle. Check how quickly the logo on the ball is spinning to estimate the speed of the shot. When your opponent’s paddle is moving from low to high, then the shot will have topspin. When your opponent’s paddle is moving from high to low, then the shot will have heavy backspin.
You should not always try to hit the ball with as much spin as possible. Sometimes it can be better to fake a lot of spin on the ball. You can do this with a backspin serve, for example, by swinging your paddle normally but making contact with the ball at the base of the paddle (closer to your hand, because the paddle has the least power there). This might lead your opponent to expect a heavy of backspin that will not actually be there.
Key Ping Pong Tip 4: Develop an Awesome Serve
There are a lot of ways you can serve. Short serves are perhaps the best method because it makes it very hard for your opponent to gain any kind of advantage. Always keep your wrists relaxed if you are trying spin shots. You should also try to mix and match your serves to keep your opponent guessing.
Serves are a vital part of table tennis. If you haven’t thought of using serves as a tactic to gain an edge over your opponent, use it now. A strong serve can win you many points, and sometimes the entire game. A great weapon to have in your arsenal is a powerful sidespin serve because it can force your opponent to move out of position, which will then set you up for an easy return shot.
Most amateurs get the ball rolling for each point with a simple serve because they don’t see the importance of using their serve as a weapon. Remember that the serve is the only point in the game of table tennis where you have complete control over the ball. You do not have to respond to what your opponent has just done.
Be sure to accelerate at the last possible moment when you are attempting a shot with spin. Start with your hand relaxed and low, near your knee. Then, move your paddle in an upwards motion and at the last part of the movement, accelerate and immediately stop. Think of how you would use a whip, it is the same idea. The paddle will impact the ball at a much higher speed which will lift the ball more easily over the net.
Key Ping Pong Tip 5: Keep Your Backswing Short
Taking a long backswing can be a good move when you are playing golf or tennis, but in table tennis, a shorter backswing is better. Long backswings allow more room for error and they take a longer time to execute. Both your backhand and forehand shots should use short, powerful swings to get you back in position more quickly.
A shorter backswing allows you to be more precise and accurate on where you want to place the ball. We recommend using long swings only when you are trying to hit offensive topspin shots. Also, don’t just hit the ball with your arm when performing a forehand stroke.
To get the maximum amount of power, rotate your upper body while lowering yourself a bit on the side with the paddle. This is a similar action that you’ll see boxers using to pack more powerful punches. Try striking the ball from the hips and your shots will instantly become much more powerful.
Key Ping Pong Tip 6: Think in Terms of Different Heights
There are many height considerations that you should consider in the game of ping pong. The first one is when the ping pong ball has bounced and is on the way up. You have the option of hitting the ball just before it reaches maximum height. This can catch your opponent unprepared and can often win you the point.
The second one is when the ping pong ball has bounced and has reached the highest point. This is where flat shots are usually best performed. Try to use a relaxed technique with a minimal spin for the optimal effect. The third one is when the ping pong ball has bounced and it is just about to hit the table. Forehand loops are most effective at this height because these shots often require a large forearm backswing before you make contact.
Finally, try to always lean forward on your toes when you are striking the ball. This will prevent you from doing what most beginners do, which is leaning backward to compensate for their slower reaction times. If you lean forward instead, you will often get a lot more power in your shots, since your whole body will be moving toward the ball when you make contact.
Key Ping Pong Tip 7: Choose Your Equipment Carefully
If you are serious about improving your table tennis techniques, you will need to buy a decent table tennis paddle. These are sometimes referred to as table tennis rackets, but we’ll stick with “paddle” as the terminology in this article.
Many amateur players assume that all paddles are the same, but that isn’t really true. Table tennis is a game that involves a lot of spin. You will generally be holding the paddle in front of your body, so you’ll need a ping pong paddle that allows you to generate shots with lots of spin.
The fastest way to improve is to get the best ping pong paddle for your level. Beginners should always start with a basic paddle as they start getting a feel for the game. Better paddles usually have a medium-fast blade so you can move onto one of those after you have developed some of the basic skills. The best table tennis players all use these types of paddles.
Once you have acquired the kind of paddle you are most comfortable with, be sure to use it exclusively. Don’t switch your paddles very much so that you develop a good sense of play and a feel for your particular equipment. Always treat your paddle with respect by keeping it inside a case and using a special cleaning solution or a simple mix of soap and water after each use.
As a ready-made table tennis paddle, one of the best options is the Palio Expert 2. It includes a free paddle case and tacky rubbers, and you can find them pretty easily on Amazon. So once you’ve got a paddle that will give you the type of ball control you need, simply start practicing your shots with it.
Key Ping Pong Tip 8: Lower is Better for Returns
The general rule here is that the lower the ball is with regard to the net, the harder it will be for your opponent to counter with a variety of moves. In addition, you should always try to aim for the furthest possible lines at the edge of the opponent’s table. To counter these kinds of deep shots, your opponent will be forced to step back and use a good amount of footwork to return your shots.
Key Ping Pong Tip 9: Stay Cool and Patient
The sport of table tennis is just as psychological as it is physical. Beginners often try to smash the ball with every shot. It is better to play patiently and wait for an opening to smash the ball (like when your opponent returns a ball that is too high, or does not have a lot of spin).
Your basic ping pong strokes should be short, quick and powerful, and hit low over the net. Try not to get discouraged if you make several mistakes in a row. Simply take a deep breath and visualize winning the next point by improving your tactics. Also, think carefully about your service strategy and the types of returns you are hitting.
Key Ping Pong Tip 10: Join a Table Tennis Club
In order to get better, you will always need to aim higher. Table tennis is all about improving your game when you face better opponents. When you play on these higher levels, you will come to understand more about your strengths and your weaknesses.
You’ll discover that you might even learn some new tactics or strategies along the way. Table tennis clubs usually group their players according to skill level. Also, most of these clubs will have professional coaches who can train you and help you become a better ping pong player.
Some More Helpful Ping Pong Tips
So those are really some of the most important tips for beginners to know. There are also some other fairly basic ping pong skills that will help you win games. Some of the best ways to learn how to play the modern game of table tennis are by practicing these basic ping pong skills.
A simple example of a basic tip to keep in mind is to always remember that you can hit the ball from either side of the table to anywhere on the opposing side of the table during your table tennis serve. This is important to know because it really limits the types of serves you can try if you are always trying to hit the ball diagonally across the table.
It is only during a game of doubles that you are compelled to serve from one part of the server’s side to the other part of your opponent’s side. There is no rule that forces you to hit the ball straight down the line with your serve if that is what you feel like doing.
Use These Key Ping Pong Tips to Work for You
To learn a few more key tips that can be vital to your progress as a player, spend some of your waking hours watching better table tennis players at ping pong tournaments. There are plenty of tutorials available on Youtube, or you could also try attending a few table tennis matches in person. There is nothing like seeing some of the professional players in action to inspire you to improve your own skills.
Spending a few hours with a table tennis coach can also be an incredible way to take your game to the next level. To become the best player you can be, it is important that you spend plenty of time behind the ping pong table practicing your basic skills and developing them as much as you can.