Table tennis, or ping pong is a sport in which two or four players hit a small, light, ping pong ball across a table with a marked court on, much like a larger tennis court.
The table tennis court is a flat table, with two equal courts on each opposing side, and a small net across the middle.
Table tennis can be a lot of fun to play, but it is also a very complex sport that takes some practice and patience to master the skills!
Luckily, we’re here to give you the rundown of all the basic table tennis skills and techniques that you need to know, so that you can beat your opponents with ease!
The Basics Of Table Tennis
The basic rule of table tennis is that the ping pong ball must bounce on your side of the court before the opponents, and has to go over the net.
The opponent must also allow the ball to hit their side of the court before returning the ball.
The aim of the game is pretty straightforward. You have to hit the ball over the net and onto the opponent’s side.
You win a point if your opponent misses and does not return the ball to your side of the table, or if they miss your side of the table, or if the ball hits the net.
The winner of the game has to reach 11 points first. So, how exactly do you play like a pro?
First & Foremost – Stance
The first thing that you’ll have to nail when it comes to playing table tennis is the stance. To really nail a shot, you’ll need to be in the perfect position.
Now, the perfect position is not the same for everyone, and it does depend on whether you’re serving, defending or attacking.
That being said, if you are hitting the ball, trying to receive the ball or serving, you should maintain the proper stance and posture.
With a good stance, you can maintain your balance, stability, and give yourself a full range of motion, which is an advantage if you want to give yourself the best chance of winning.
When it comes to stance, you’ll need to keep your feet about a shoulder width apart, or around 1.5 shoulder widths apart, so that you’ve got a good range of movement.
To do this, you should also have your most dominant foot slightly more forward than the other, to give you extra balance.
With your knees, you should keep them slightly bent, so that you’ve got the flexibility and ability to move when needed, and you will be able to shift your weight evenly.
Try to keep your ankles loose too, so that you can move your feet quickly if needed.
With your upper body, you’ll want to keep it slightly bent at the waist, with your back straight, but shoulders forward.
For the best action, you’ll need to be in a slightly crouched position, so that you are ready for anything, and to move in either direction.
Keep your arms in front of you and your body, so that you are not restricted in any way, and have your elbow and paddle in your hand in front of you.
So, what is the proper way to hold the table tennis paddle?
Learning How To Hold The Paddle
Another way that you can find success with table tennis is by learning how to hold the paddle. There are two ways to hold the paddle, and whichever one you use depends on what kind of grip you want.
You may prefer the shakehand grip, or the penhold grip. Each one has a different kind of hand position and paddle holding style.
For instance, the shakehand grip involved holding the paddle just at the base of the head of the paddle.
The shakehand is named as such because you hold the paddle forwards as if you’re going to shake hands.
With a penhold grip, you have free movement of the wrist, making it easier to decide which way you’ll hit the ping pong ball with a second’s notice.
If you’re unsure whether you’re going to hit it backhanded or forward, the penhold allows you the opportunity to flip the paddle and make a quick decision.
It’s best if you try both to see which works better for you, and once you’ve chosen your grip style, then you can practice it frequently until you move onto more advanced grip styles.
Basic Table Tennis Techniques
If you want to master table tennis, then you will need to practice the basic techniques and table tennis strokes.
There are four basic strokes, all of which we will cover in this section. Which stroke you use depends on whether you are going to attack, or defend.
The forehand push is perfect for returning balls or preventing incoming attacking balls.
To master this move, you will need to stand with your dominant foot slightly back, and spin your upper body in motion with the paddle.
This move has a small backswing, where you rotate the wrist forward and keep the paddle open.
If you want to learn how to do the forehand push for yourself, then check out this tutorial.
A backhand push can return short balls and stop attacks or returns from your opponent.
For the backhand push, you’ll need to position your body in line with the ball, and keep your arm forward from your chest, sweeping outwards when it needs to hit the ball.
To learn the backhand push in table tennis, you can check out this video.
The forehand drive is one of the most basic yet most essential table tennis moves that you should learn. This is for returning attacking strikes from the opposing team.
To do a forward drive, you will need to rotate your body round to the back to give yourself some power to drive this move forward.
So, you’ll have to transfer all of your weight onto your back foot, and move your (dominant) arm back.
When the opposing ball hits your part of the table, bring your body back towards it, shifting the weight forwards, and hit the ball.
The movement should give you extra impact in order to strike the ball and drive it towards the opponent’s side. To give you an idea of how to do this shot, check out this tutorial.
The backhand drive is much like the forehand drive, but it is better for returning shots with a backhanded approach to get the ball at the other end of the court at the baseline.
To perform this move, you will need to have your torso directly in line with where the ball is going, and keep an angled stance towards the table, with your arm ready facing the ball.
Then, with your waist bent slightly forward, lift your dominant hand forwards and upwards slightly, so you can hit the ball with the back of your paddle after it has bounced.
If you’re unsure what to do, try watching this backhand drive tutorial.
How To Serve In Table Tennis
One of the most essential skills that you’ll need to learn in table tennis is to serve. Serving is vital in starting the game, and controlling the ball throughout the game.
You can serve in various different ways, but one of the most basic and typical ways to serve in table tennis is to balance the ball in the palm of your non-dominant hand, then throw the ball into the air, about 6 inches above where your hand is, and as it falls, hit with your paddle in the dominant hand.
The ball will need to bounce on your side of the court, go over the net, and bounce on the opponent’s side of the court.
To summarize, table tennis, or ping pong can be a really fun game and sport to play.
However, it does take some getting used to and some practice in order to land those shots every time.
With some of our tips and tricks of the trade, you can learn the easiest beginner moves, positioning, serves and stance to be successful.
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