How To Practice Table Tennis Alone

Table Tennis is usually regarded as a two-person game.

But if you’re wanting to develop your skills without the added stress of an opponent watching your every move, you may be happy to know that it is possible to play alone!

Playing table tennis alone is, in fact, an excellent way to practice your skills on the down low and gain the ability – and the confidence – to overcome an opponent.

How To Practice Table Tennis Alone

That being said, there are several ways to play table tennis alone that will give you the valuable experience necessary to reach your full potential.

This is true, even if you don’t have an in-person opponent to play against.

But is it really that easy to practice table tennis alone? Will it set you back financially?

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then this guide will be a big help. Let’s take a look at the ways you can practice table tennis alone.

What Is Table Tennis?

Table Tennis (also referred to as ping pong) is a sport where anywhere between two and four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth using a small racket.

It is usually played over a net located in the middle of a flat table.

The object of the game is to hit the ball in a particular way that means the opponent either cannot reach the ball, or cannot return it correctly.

Table Tennis is a highly competitive global sport that is played in both professional and amateur capacities.

Can You Play Table Tennis On Your Own?

The simple answer? Yes, you can! It’ll give you the opportunity to develop and enhance your skills before competing with anyone else.

However, it might not be as fun as playing (and communicating) with a partner!

Why Is Practicing Table Tennis Alone So Important?

Some table tennis players consider self-practice to be ineffective, and choose not to practice on their own.

However, it is vital that you dedicate at least a little time to honing your skills so that you know exactly what you’re doing whilst playing the game, and so your opponents don’t underestimate your skills.

How To Practice Table Tennis Alone

Now we’re onto the good stuff. Playing table tennis by yourself may seem like an impossible feat, but it really isn’t that difficult – as long as you have the right tools and knowledge.

Below, we have listed some ways to practice table tennis alone, and why it is so important to the sport.

Practice Playback Position

The playback position sounds more complicated than it actually is! To use this feature all you need to do is fold up half of the table to create a wall that you can hit the ball against.

Whilst it won’t be the same as playing against a ‘real’ opponent, it will help you to practice and perfect your serve.

However, there won’t be any spin shots coming your way – making it difficult to practice returning them to someone else.

Despite this, you will be able to practice spin shots yourself!

You can objectively look at each shot and figure out what the best move is without feeling any pressure from an opponent. Or the stress of an in-action game.

This method is cost-effective, easy to set up, and will help you to develop vital table tennis skills.

Use A Return Board

If you’ve got a little money to spare and want to purchase an official table tennis return board, we’re not going to discourage you!

This product is designed for you to hit your table tennis ball into, allowing it to easily bounce back towards you if you’re playing alone.

It’s a simple way to practice (and eventually master) your table tennis skills. Plus, there are a variety of boards available in terms of size, color, and usefulness – meaning it won’t be difficult to find the perfect board for you!

Use A Table Tennis Robot

Technology is taking over the world. In this case, it’s very useful. A table tennis robot will shoot balls at you at a set timer, mimicking the movements of a real player.

The biggest downside to this method of practicing table tennis alone is that it can be expensive. If you’re after a high performing robot to help you develop your skills, this may set you back upwards of $2,000.

But if you’re not bothered about having a top of the range robot and are just looking for practicality, there are models that will only cost a couple of hundred dollars.

Why Is Practicing Table Tennis Alone So Important

So, although you don’t have to break the bank to buy a table tennis robot, it is definitely more of an investment than a casual purchase.

Ball machines are a great way to train for table tennis alone and are generally worth the money.

They are best suited for beginners rather than professionals, although elite players use them too.

Practice Shadow Play

If you’re looking for a way to improve your technique, shadow play is a great way to do it! But you technically aren’t using your shadow.

Find a mirror and do some shadow play in front of it, pretending that you are playing against a real-life opponent.

Practice your forehand and backhand techniques and watch your form in the reflection.

If you don’t have a mirror, you can set up a video camera or your cell phone and record yourself. Then, watch the playback to see how you do. It is a great way to practice without a partner and develop your striking techniques.

Train Your Physical Body

Much like any sport, table tennis can be physically challenging. There are also many factors that must be considered when playing a game – friendly or not.

If you don’t have a partner to practice table tennis with, you can still engage in the physical training. This is essential, and helps to build up endurance and strength.

Aside from being lightning fast on your feet, you also need to be quick-thinking to hit the ball back and forth (and eventually beat your opponent).

Doing drills with mini-hurdles or ladders will be beneficial in developing your speed and agility.

Foot drills are also great for improving speed and stamina. You can section off areas of your basement, your yard, gym, or a court to practice line drills. This includes sprinting, sidestepping, backpedaling, and stopping.

Train Your Mind

Mental training is just as important as physical training. After all, a healthy mindset is the way forward!

But like any sport or hobby, it can be difficult keeping yourself motivated. If this is something you struggle with, you could try some of the following methods:

  • Setting realistic goals for your playing.
  • Visualizing the future and the level you want to be playing at.
  • Find incentives to keep yourself motivated.

A positive mental space is an essential part of maximizing your performance – and applies regardless of whether you’re playing a game alone or as part of a team.

In fact, many high-achieving athletes spend a lot of time training their minds to maintain a more positive mindset to gain control over their emotions and actions, and to manage any anxiety.

Training your mind is also a vital skill that you can take with you to many other areas of your life!

Practice Your Serve

This is one of the most important parts of all, and should definitely be high on your list when practicing table tennis alone.

The serve is a significant part of playing table tennis. A great serve can help you to gain an automatic point at the beginning of any game.

Disadvantages Of Playing Alone

Therefore, it’s vital that you dedicate some time to learning to practice your serve. You can practice creating spin by simply using your wrist.

There are a variety of serves to learn while playing table tennis and there are different ways to learn each one.

We’d recommend working on ball placement, trying to hit the ball at the end line, and practicing spin. The best part is this method won’t take too much out of your day.

You can dedicate as much time as possible to it to make yourself a tennis table champion.

Observe Other Players

Sometimes it’s easier to learn something new (a sport, the basics of a new job) when someone is physically demonstrating or guiding you through the process.

Table tennis is no exception. And understanding strategies and routines of professional or more experienced players is going to benefit you greatly in the long run.

Observe others playing in-person or online and try to decipher their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, it may be a good idea to learn how they utilize these in games of table tennis to respond to their opponent.

If you’re seeking to learn a new skill within the table tennis game, you could even watch training videos online to help you develop this new skill.

These will give you a more precise idea of how to begin (and later maintain) these skills.

Over time, such observations will begin to help you develop your gameplay to a larger extent!

Disadvantages Of Playing Alone

No matter how much time and effort you invest into your self-practice, you may still lack proper etiquette that you’d otherwise learn when playing the game with a partner.

Practicing table tennis alone may also do the following.


Self-practice doesn’t involve using your mind as strategically as you would in a game against someone else.

It may become a little demotivating when you’re the only player – and you may begin to tear yourself down if you cannot perform a certain move.

Despite this, it’s important to push through these negative feelings and work on achieving a healthier mindset.

It May Become Repetitive

Playing a game of table tennis against yourself may not be as fulfilling as it sounds.

Not having someone there to pally the ball back to you – alongside the occasional taunt or playful insult – may become boring very quickly, leading to a lack of motivation.

There are ways to conquer this, the most simple method being to just push through negative emotions and keep your body and mind focused on the game at hand.


There are many ways you can practice table tennis alone. Some of them may be more costly than others, but all will help you to develop and hone in on your skills.

As long as you remember to keep a strong mental and physical mindset, everything else will fall into place – and you may be on your way to winning a championship game sooner than you think!

Dave White