It sounds funny when a table tennis player hits a ball using his hands without the paddle. Because why hit a ball with your hand? But if the ball hits the hand, that’s a different story. For the sake of this query, let me answer the question, can I use my hand to hit the ball in table tennis?
You can’t hit the ball without the paddle. In technical terms, that’s hitting the ball with a free hand. Yet if you’re holding the paddle and the ball hits your hand, meaning the racket hand, you don’t lose a point.
But is there a chance that you can lose a point when your finger hits the ball? How can you avoid such a scenario? If your freehand can’t touch the ball, are you allowed to touch the table? Yes, there’s a rule for that. All these questions are to be answered in this post.
- Can I use my hand to hit the ball in table tennis?
- How to stop the ball from hitting the fingers when playing?
- Can you play table tennis with both hands?
- Can you hand touch the table in table tennis?
- Why do table tennis players touch the table?
Can I use my hand to hit the ball in table tennis?
You can’t use your free hand to hit the ball in table tennis. A free hand means that the hand is not holding the paddle or racket. But if a player’s hand is holding the paddle, also known as racket hand, he or she doesn’t violate the table tennis rule if the ball touches the hand or finger.
Double hit in table tennis
Hitting the ball twice with hand and racket followed a rule in the past, which became disputable. But players were thankful that this rule changed.
In the past, it’s a violation when the ball touches the hand or finger of a player, even if it’s a racket hand. Even if it’s an accidental hit, the player doesn’t get a point. Today, the rules are revised. A double hit is now considered a legal hit.
Take note a double hit is legal if the ball hits on the side of the racket’s hand. But if it hits the freehand, it’s a violation.
Who wins the point when the player’s finger touches the ball, but the opponent misses the shot?
The player who missed the shot doesn’t get the point. In the ITTF rule, a player is eligible to earn a point if he or she can return the ball even if the ball touches the finger. This rule only applies if the ball touches the racket’s hand. But if the ball hits the free hand and double hit is intentional, the player doesn’t earn the point.
There are other cases when the ball hits any part of your racket hand other than the finger. And the rule considers these hits legal. The legal hits include hitting the back of the racket hand, hitting the bat’s edge, and hitting with the bat’s handle.
Always keep in mind that hitting the ball with a free hand is a violation.
How to stop the ball from hitting the fingers when playing?
Focus on the ball. You can’t control the ball coming to you, but you can control the position of your hand. When your hand is in the proper position, there’s a bigger chance that you hit the ball instead of the ball hitting your finger. Position the paddle so the ball bounces centered on the surface of the paddle.
Keep your eye on the ball when playing table tennis
The reason why I suggest that you focus on the ball when playing table tennis is because most newbies miss the ball as they receive it. One of the reasons is the ball’s visibility. They can’t see it in their position. The fix for this problem is to lower the posture and to keep your eyes leveled on the paddle. With this position, you’ll be able to gauge the distance of the ball. You’ll also have an idea if the ball touches the paddle or your finger.
Use elbow to increase the stability of paddle stroke
An unstable paddle stroke is another reason why a player’s finger is hit with a ball. When your grip is unstable, your concentration focuses on keeping the grip stable instead of focusing on the ball. You may feel uneasy because you can’t feel the stability in your hand.
To solve this problem, one of the things that you must do is to use your elbow as your core as you hit the ball using the backhand. Some players tend to use their shoulder instead of the elbow to add power to the grip. This technique adds stress to the body. Because the core is too far from the paddle or grip, the support needed by your hand lessens, which leads to an unstable swing.
Implement weight transfer on forehand stroke
Another amateur player’s problem is using the forehand stroke without adding weight to the body.
What does it mean?
Some players, usually the tall players, opt to lean their upper body in the direction of the ball to hit the ball. They do it instead of moving their feet or lowering their body parts towards the direction of the ball. The upper half of the body moves, but the lower part stays in place.
When playing the forehand stroke, weight transfer is important. It’s where your hand gets its strength. This is the reason why many short players can hit the ball with power.
Be prepared for your opponent’s spin change
One of the reasons why players’ fingers get hit by the ball is because the players are not prepared for the spin change of their opponent. Always remember that your opponents watch you. They check your readiness on receiving the ball.
You may see them hitting the ball strongly, but when they see you ready for it, they may deliver a soft delivery that may require you to run after the ball just to hit it. Or the opponent may hit a strong service that ends up hitting your finger.
Can you play table tennis with both hands?
Playing with both hands is allowed while the ball is in play. But you can’t do it during the service. In one of his games, Hugo Calderano was seen playing with a backhand using his two hands. During service, you must hold the ball using your free hand. That explains why you can’t use both hands.
Can you switch hands while the ball is in play? Definitely. It’s possible but it’s not easy unless you’re Timo Boll. He’s able to switch hands in his matches and did not get a violation. But that’s a skill that not everyone can execute. But it’s possible.
Choose the right paddle
Choosing the right paddle helps to control the ball and to become efficient with receiving the ball. Here are some Amazon finds for the best table tennis paddle.
Buy any of the Timo Boll paddle series. It’s a great find. But I prefer the Butterfly Timo Boll ZLC Blade. You get a carbon fiber blade, which increases the dwell time. It’s a good paddle for counterattacking. Although, this is meant for advanced players as is the price, and you need to get the rubbers separately.
You can also try Amazon’s choice Butterfly Timo Boll Shakehand Ping Pong Paddle. This paddle provides the good speed and spins that every player wants. It has superb control, which is perfect for beginners. This is more geared towards beginners, yet it is still approved for tournament play. This model is accepted by the International Table Tennis Federation.
To complete the list, here’s one of my personal favorites, the DHS HURRICANE-II Tournament Ping Pong Paddle. This paddle is perfect if you want to slow down your opponent’s attack. It’s best for controlling the game because it allows you to place the ball wherever you want. It’s also easy to use when receiving a ball. If you’re playing with Asians, this paddle helps you cope with the Asian-style game. Oh, and the rubbers are different on each side so you can switch during a match, giving you more options on your next moves.
Now, let’s move to the hand touching the table.
Can you hand touch the table in table tennis?
You can hand touch the table with your racket hand and freehand and don’t lose a point. But it depends if the ball is in play. When the ball is in play, you can’t touch the table with your free hand. But if it’s a let, you’re allowed to put your free hand on the table.
Touching the table in table tennis using the racket hand
It’s not a problem when you touch the table using your racket hand when the ball is in play. You can even lean on the table as long as you’re on the racket-hand side. But what you need to watch out for is the movement of the table. You don’t earn a point when the table moves.
Freehand while ball in play
You can’t put your free hand on the table when the ball is in play. But when do you know that the ball is in play?
A ball is in play when the ball touches one side of the court twice or when the player struck the ball more than once. When the ball touches the court alternately and has not been struck by the paddle. When the ball touches the player, anything the player wears or any object other than the net, it’s a play.
But if the ball passes over or touches the net, the game is a let. The player is allowed to put his or her free hand on the table.
Why do table tennis players touch the table?
You may think that table tennis players touch the table due to a formed habit. But it’s not. They touch the table to give them an idea about their distance. They want to know if they’re too near or too far from the table when they serve or receive the ball. Also, they touch the table because their hands are sweating, and they have no access to towels.
Let’s dive into the two reasons why players touch the table.
Touching the table with fingertips
Touching the table using the fingertips works as the calibration system of players. Because they move a lot, they want to check if they’re still standing in the right distance. They want to know if they can hit the ball or not.
Even if it works as a calibration system, the distance is still dependent on the preference of the player. They still decide if they will go near the table or at least an arm’s length away from the table.
Using their fingertips to measure their distance to the table also increases their muscle memory. So when they play the game, it becomes automatic for them to stay in the position at a perfect distance.
Touching the table with the palm
Players touch the table using their palms because they need to wipe the sweat off their hands. Table tennis players are only allowed to use the towel every six points. To address the sweating of the hands, they opt to use the table.
But the players are strategic when doing it. They don’t touch the table where the ball probably bounces. In most instances, players wipe their hands near the table tennis net.
Table tennis is a strenuous sport. You can burn up to 650 calories in an hour just by playing the game. Players can feel that intensity during a long rally. So they need a breather to cope up with the stress.
So they walk near the net and sometimes touch the table to relax for a second. The short relaxation period helps them to bounce back and get ready for the next rally.
Players sometimes touch the table to interrupt the momentum of their opponent. This strategy forces the other player to slow down. It disrupts the player’s beat. With this strategy, the opponent may have a hard time slowing down. It may lead to the loss of concentration in the game.
If you plan to play table tennis, you must prepare yourself for this kind of strategy. You must keep yourself ready for the attack from your opponent. Master the footwork skill, grip, and spin, so you can beat your opponent.