How to win in Table Tennis
So, you played ping pong and got the hang of it. And now you decided to start competing at Table Tennis competitions or in the local Table Tennis league. Well, why not?
Your age has nothing to do with it — you may be 9 or 90. You simply want to win titles and prizes and now you need to know what really matters. In this crash course, I give my humble advice to this situation.
Spin, speed, and control
Table Tennis is about spin. We need to start with the material. You must have a racket or bat that can generate lots of spin. Both the blade and the rubbers enable strong spin. Choose material, stick with it and get used to it.
Spin, speed and control are interrelated. To win the rally, you need to have control, it is the first priority. If you lose control, your opponent wins the rally. To gain control, you need both speed and spin.
If you hit harder and faster you generate also more spin to help you get control. When you generate more spin it gives you more control which enables you to put more speed on the ball. When you hit fast and generate heavy spin it will overcome your opponent’s spin.
You must learn to make quality strokes, to get the spin and speed, with control. Here are some basics, starting with how to hold your bat.
You should keep the bat relaxed with a loose grip. Pinch with the thumb and the index finger enough for the stroke.
Make sure to get the proper spin on the ball to get control and to create difficulties for the opponent. Use the leg-hip-lower torso to create the motion energy for the stroke. Use a consistent arm and body movement. Be resolute and explosive.
Make attacking strokes on the ball’s highest trajectory point. This is usually both the easiest and the most effective.
Stay as close to the table as you can. Follow the ball with your eyes all the way to the bat, don’t expect the trajectory.
As a certain stroke always should have consistent arm and body movement you need to move to the ball. Return to the ready position after completion. The footwork is often decisive for the match.
Service Return — handling spin
Service and return of service are often the keys to success. To become the commander of the game you should pass these first two strokes better than your opponent.
When the opponent serves, look at the contact point and the bat movement. Learn to read the spin. Topspin or backspin? Right or left sidespin? Short or long serve?
Some tips on how to return:
- Short high serve — flip
- Short low serve — return short and low
- Short or medium long topspin — close the bat, and flip or smash (enough downwards to avoid the ball to go long)
- Short heavy backspin — open the bat and dig (enough upwards to avoid the ball to go into the net)
- Long serve — attack with a topspin
- Sidespin — make an offset in the right direction — if you do not know then aim for the middle of the table.
Use 20–30% of your training time for practicing your own service. If you think this is no fun, remember that the service is the only stroke where you have it all in your hand.
To win, it is important with the right variety of placement, spin and speed (and thus the pace of the game).
You should have many game systems rehearsed for different situations. You know you can put these in place with quality, i.e. with some certainty and precision, and with a chosen risk level. Your match tactics determine your simple choice of game systems to use.
To develop the tactics in real-time you analyze the opponent’s ability and game systems. You seek to exploit your relative strengths and your opponent’s relative weaknesses. You try to suppress your relative weaknesses and your opponent’s relative strengths.
Your active choices during the match can mean as much for the outcome as your technique. Do the thinking and make the decisions between the rallies, not during them.
Mental strength — attitude and focus
Play relaxed — you know you are prepared and that you are doing your best — this is great fun.
Take responsibility and feel your strong power. You are in command. You are controlling the course of action. The force is with you.
Remain self-controlled throughout the match. Celebrate your wins, and forget about your lost rallies or lost points. Apply your poker face, and never show any negative feelings.
Remember that each point has the same weight. It is possible to reverse any points disadvantage. There is always hope. It is not over until it is over.
Stay focused, take one point at the time. Here and now. Never think of consequences.
Be concentrated for every point.
If you manage all this, you’ll get a very strong competitive advantage.
Believe in yourself, think about the next point, have great fun and Good luck!