The best way to improve in table tennis is to get a coach. The second way is to practice with a friend. Unfortunately, your friend is not always available when you need to practice. So, the third way to practice is by yourself. Of course, it is not as effective as the ones above, but you will still get some improvement out of it. Also, there are some skills that can easily be developed without the help of a partner.
Try to keep a practice journal where you should note anything new that you learned or what still needs improvement. This will help you to better gauge your progress and also create a structure to your practice. Here are some things you can do by yourself that will improve your table tennis ability.
As you probably have been told a million times, footwork is one of the most important aspects of table tennis. It is the foundation on which all of the strokes depend on. As a beginner, you should focus on having the correct positioning of your body and feet before you learn the actual strokes. You should take your time to get in the correct position for every shot that you take.
It’s not necessary to be at your club to practice footwork. You can easily do it in a park or even in your home. What you are aiming for is to develop stamina and speed while performing the correct feet movement. Be flexible to shift in all directions (side to side, and backward to forward movements) as this is what you will experience in actual matches.
Always try to imagine possible strokes whenever you move into a new position. By doing so, you’ll be able to replicate game situations very fast. For instance, you should prepare for back or front swings as you move towards the ball.
Try to practice and master your footwork combinations. For example, use crossover footwork when you only want to cover large distances and shuffle step for covering short distances strictly. Focus whenever you’re practicing your footwork and allow your feet to be flexible. Finally, maintain a consistent practice schedule if you want to perfect your skills.
It is no secret that table tennis is a demanding sport. You constantly have to keep moving and when you no longer can, it usually means defeat.
In the beginning, your technique and consistency matter more than your physical fitness. As you advance, physical fitness becomes one of the items that must be checked of on the list of success. At this level your potential opponent is more consistent and has better technique, which allows him to place the ball in places that are hard to reach, forcing you to move more.
So what can you do to improve your physical fitness?
Jogging/Running. This will give your leg muscles a workout and it will increase your lung capacity. Your stamina should improve, which will make you last longer in those long, neck in neck games. Other activities that will help with stamina include bicycling, stationary bicycling, dancing, swimming, etc.
Table tennis robots can help you kill two birds with one ping pong ball. You can set up your robot to shoot balls to the left and then the far right, forcing you to move a great distance. This way you can practice your footwork skills, improve your stamina and your stroke.
Weight training is another great one. The stronger your stroke, the harder it is for your opponent to respond. All of your muscles are involved when playing table tennis, but your waist muscles, the ones that help you rotate your torso are especially important. That is where most of the stroke power comes from. You should aim to strengthen these muscles by doing some exercises at the gym.
A table tennis point always starts with the serve. You can gain an advantage or you can send the ball too high or into the net. So it is important to practice your service until you don’t miss any serves. Afterward, you can start to work on other kinds of serves to build a good repertoire on which you can depend on.
To get the most out of your service practice keep the below tips in mind.
– Just serve one ball at a time because having more than one ball in your hand affects your ball toss.
– Aim for low, double bounce serves. To achieve the low part, you can tie a string to two drying clips and attach them on top of the net to each side. This will create a 10 cm gap between the net and the string. You should aim to get the ball through that gap and bounce twice on the other side.
– Set short targets that you should aim to hit. This will help in assessing your success.
– Don’t rush. Remember the objective is to become consistent, not the fastest. Few successful serves are therefore more important than many unsuccessful ones.
– Practice long fast serves while using the same arm movement as when serving short. This will keep your opponent on his toes and prevent him from predicting your next move.
– Always return to the ready position, one forearm length from the edge and slightly to the left of the table(if right-handed).
Watching professionals play on video will not only teach you new techniques but help you visualize the strokes. This is particularly ideal whenever you’re physically fatigued. You can also analyze your own footage. While using this approach, there are some tips that you should pay attention to:
Compare your games over a different period, to see if and where you’re improving on. By doing so, you’ll be able to see and rectify your mistakes. When watching other players, stop the video just before a player reacts and think what would you do in that situation. This will give you invaluable insight into the decisions a professional player. You could then implement what you learn into your own game.
Think about why the tactics being used by one player outshines the other, despite both of them being good players. For instance, you will realize that the winner will always change his game plan, based on his opponent’s actions. You should try to understand why.
Compare your footage with that of the best player. How does he play in frustrating situations? Does he lose focus or changes the game plan? Such questions and copying winning play styles will help you become a better tennis player.
Table Tennis Robots
A lot of top players have trained and still train with robots. They are a valuable tool that every aspiring table tennis player should take advantage of. Unlike human opponents, a robot can put the ball in the same place repeatedly, making it perfect for learning new techniques or perfection old ones. As I said before, you can use a robot to improve your stamina and footwork, but the main thing that a robot will help you with is the quality of your stroke.
Depending on the type and quality of the robot, you can set it up to deliver a variety of strokes. You can work on your short game, improve your topspin, heighten your reflexes, etc. Here are some things to try for your next training session.
– To help create more variety you should alter the position of the robot regularly. You can change it from middle to the sides and even move it closer to the net and to one side, mimicking a very wide angle shot.
– Don’t forget your footwork and correct stroke movement. It is easy to forget when you have set the robot to be hitting the ball at the same place. You should be twisting your waist and bending your knees for every forehand shot that you take.
– Keep the ball speed slow in the beginning and gradually increase as you perfect your strokes.
– Use multi-colored balls to sharpen your decision-making process under pressure and your reflexes. You might, for example, decide to loop the white balls, block orange balls and chop the blue ones.
Table tennis robots are great but one thing will always be missing. You will not get to read your opponent’s body language and engage in mind games. But this has its upsides as it can help relieve the pressure and focus just on the strokes.
Having a good practice partner is invaluable, but if you want to improve faster, there are some things that you can do on your own. Include the ideas above into your practice schedule and you should be seeing improvements in no time.