11 Table Tennis Skills You Need to Master Your Game
So you’re an enthusiastic table tennis player looking to master your game? Well, my friend, you have come to the right place! There is a huge difference between casual playing and proper table tennis, with many skills involved, and this post will focus on helping you understand and reach your full table tennis potential and skills.
In this article, you will learn the most important skills to master in table tennis and how you can train and achieve these required skills because I will throw in a couple of great examples and training ideas on how to reach your goals fast. Without further due, let’s dive in!
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1. Right grip from the paddle
There are not one or two right ways to hold your paddle, but there are more. However, there are two that are clearly most in use: Shakehand Grip and Penhold Grip. Whether you choose the shakehand, penhold, or some other grip, it’s important that you feel confident and comfortable with it.
All in all, it’s important to know how to choose a table tennis racket for your specific needs and skillset. If you don’t, I highly recommend you reading my article about how to find the best for you. Anyways, let’s continue.
It’s important to hold the paddle loosely with your wrist straight with your forearm because if you take a too-firm grip, it will be hard on your muscles when you constantly strike with tense muscles. This could lead to shoulder and wrist pain, so remember to take a gentle grip.
Finally, there are different ping pong paddle handles as well. Depending on your hand’s form, you might find that other handles are more comfortable and more fitting than others. Below you can see 5 different types of handles and how they are shaped.
- Flared: Most popular handle shape. The top is thinner, and the bottom is wider.
- Straight: Simply a straight handle.
- Anatomic: Same as flared, expect a bump in the middle for better grip for some hands.
- Donic Dotec: Extremely comfortable handles. Usually, fit for people with wrist injuries.
- Special: There is more than one special type. These can be custom-made for fun or special editions.
Read also: Are Expensive Table Tennis Paddles Worth It?
2. Footwork and form
Footwork is crucial because it enables your fast movement from side to side and front and back. When you can do this efficiently with explosive speed, you will be faster, which will allow you to give more power, spin, and accuracy to your strokes. You can get better explosive speed by training your calves and other muscles, skipping a rope, explosive jumping, and resistance training.
I highly recommend that you check out my post about table tennis muscles to understand the most important ones, where do they affect, and how to train them.
In addition to footwork, your form is essential because you can be better positioned to strike hard, add more spin, receive your opponent’s strikes, react and act faster than really anything. You can improve your form by trying different ones and doing shadowplay. Every one of us has different optimal playing forms, so you need to find your own. You can start by trying different foot widths, keeping your arms loose but ready, keeping your shoulders back, and standing up in a good position.
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Serving the ball is where the game will really start, so you need to master two things. Serving a skilled service that will make everything hard for your opponent and receiving a hard serve will keep you in the game and surprise your opponent.
You can train your serving by obviously playing table tennis with an opponent, or simply giving out serves while no one receives them. Either way, you will need to do thousands of serves to really master and find ones that work for you.
Also, if you want to really give all you can to your serves and the whole game, you need to immerse yourself with grips because certain grips are more towards aggressive power and speed, whereas others and more defending grips that will dampen your opponent’s strikes and give far more spin.
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4. Basic strokes
When you are ready to smack that ball like it’s your worst enemy… It’s time to master the four basic table tennis strokes. With these strokes, you can keep up in the game and even best your opponent when you are a master of them. The four basic strokes are:
- Forehand drive
- Forehand push
- Backhand drive
- Backhand push
The foundation of each table tennis match is based on these 4 strokes, and even when they are the basic ones, they are the most important ones. To do a good basic stroke, you need to have a good paddle with a decent grip, proper footwork, and a great stance.
5. Advanced strokes
When you have at least a decent knowledge of the basic strokes, you can begin to learn some advanced techniques and strokes to get your game to the next level. Some greatly advanced strokes to learn are:
- The Loop: Forehand Loop is the most dominant shot in table tennis. You can overcome nearly every shot with it.
- The Chop: Defensive stroke, which will give the ball some backspin. Great shot if you are far away from the table.
- The Flick: Offensive stroke where you get close to the net. Hit the ball when it’s in its highest point!
- The Lob: Stroke to be used when you’re in trouble. Get’s the ball back to the table from far away.
In addition to these strokes, you can learn some advanced serving and countering techniques. For example, adding sidespin to the ball while serving will confuse or make it hard for the opponent. When adding more spin to the stroke, it’s important to use the wrist!
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Table tennis is famous for its spin, and it is no wonder because the ball can turn at the speed of thousands of times per minute. We all know how important It is to add spin to the ball and how to deflect them as well.
There are three main kinds of spins in table tennis that are Topspin, Backspin, and Sidespin. You need to learn all three of these if you want to really master table tennis. With a spin powerful enough, it can seem that it defies the laws of physics, which it really looks sometimes when its movement shifts through the air. Imagine your advantage if you can give these kinds of spins.
When it comes to spin training, you need to train your paddle’s bushing movement, importing power to the strike from your whole body, and simply practicing it consistently.
7. Defense and spin reflect
Receiving your opponent’s strokes is 50% of the game, so you need to invest a great deal of time in defense as well! When you master the skill of defense, you know how much you need to add force to a coming stroke, how to see and reflect a powerful spin, and how to regain balance when the opponent has gained the upper hand.
Another thing that you should learn is the paddle’s grips. There are many grips out there, and a good portion of them are meant for defensive play. This means that they will dampen the opponent strike’s power, giving you more options in what you will do next.
Whether you are a defensive or offensive player, you need to defend sometimes. Great ways to do so is to keep the ball in the middle of the table, have a wide stance ready to go in all directions, using the lob and forehand drive.
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8. Analyzing your opponent
Before and during your match, it’s important to analyze your opponent as much as possible and see if you can notice some patterns that the opponent likes to do and do the opposite. You can improve your analyzing skills among other things by doing mental training sessions.
Before the match, however, you should really take notice of your opponent’s paddle. If one uses two grips with two different properties, you will notice it when your opponent changes styles during the game; therefore, the opponent will be using another side and another grip.
When the game has started, you will likely notice something that your opponent likes to do. For example, which strokes one favor, which side one likes better, how far from the table one is comfortable playing etc. When these are known, you can benefit from them by doing things that the opponent isn’t comfortable with.
9. Good fitness level
Table tennis is a sport like the next one and it too requires a great level of fitness. Physical training whether that is aerobic and endurance training, muscle training at the gym, or stretching, you will benefit from it in some way in table tennis.
Endurance is beneficial because you can withstand the demanding points because the game will get fast-paced, and you need to be constantly in motion.
Muscles are important in table tennis as well. This is because you can give more powerful strikes, move in a more explosive and faster way, and be stronger in every aspect of the sport.
Stretching is something that will usually be neglected, even if it shouldn’t be. When you are flexible, you can reach hard balls better, and you will win points sometimes just because you are flexible. When these 3 areas are mastered, you will have another advantage over your opponent, which will get you closer to victory.
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10. Rules and laws
In most cases, the rules are well known by most table tennis players. However, there are regular cases when they aren’t 100% known, and one might lose a point because of it. Therefore you need to know and master the rules like you know your pockets.
You should learn more from the ITTF Handbook.
11. Tips and tricks for your benefit
Finally, when time goes by, and you continue to improve your table tennis skills, you will notice that you will develop certain things that are just better for you. For example, favorite strokes, the offense of defense play style, favorite rubbers and rackets, and even strike combinations to best your opponent.
Also, the closer the net you can strike the ball, the better. This is because the opponent will have less space to return the strike. You will develop a skill for deceiving your opponent. This is really important because table tennis is partly a battle of minds, so deceiving your opponent can be extremely beneficial.
My Favorite Table Tennis Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here you can find my preferred table tennis equipment that I believe you could benefit too!
- Racket: My favorite racket choice is the beautiful Killerspin Jet800 because it fits my offensive and speed-focused playstyle. The two carbon layers, 2.1mm sponge, and 190g weight makes this racket powerful.
- Ping Pong Balls: New technology and design have made the JOOLA Flash Seamless 3-Star Balls stand out from the other balls. These balls are seamless, meaning they are more durable than any ball with a seam! Even when these balls come at a higher price, they will pay themselves quickly. As a bonus, the design makes me excited!
- Table Tennis shoes: The famous Butterfly Lezoline Rifones is my choice as it is for many others because they are designed specifically for table tennis standards. I like the excellent support, comfortable cushioning, and lightweight sole with great traction, which gets you exploding fast to whatever direction you need to.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.
Master these 11 rules, and you will be among the top players of all table tennis worldwide. Really. There are certain things that you can accelerate your skill learning, but in the end, it’s all about consistent practice. If you wish to master table tennis, keep practicing, repeating, training, and you will get there!