If you’re a beginner looking to improve your table tennis skills we’ve put together a list of our best table tennis tips and tricks to help you fast track your way to getting better. We’ve also included some of our advice for intermediate players to help them get their game to the next level. Let’s dive straight in.
1. Get a decent ping pong paddle
Getting your own ping pong paddle that isn’t a cheap $10 one from a toy shop is crucial. The difference between them is huge and if you’re wanting to take table tennis seriously this should be your first investment. It’s really important that you only use this racket too as you’ll get used to it and can start working on controlling the ball. To see what paddles we recommend see our top ping pong paddles post here.
2. Grip your paddle correctly
The next thing to cover is how to hold a ping pong paddle correctly. There are a number of different ways to grip your bat but, as a beginner, it’s generally best to start with the shakehand grip. It’s important to hold it correctly early on as you don’t want to learn bad habits that will inhibit you later on.
3. Learn how to serve
Now comes one of the most important parts of your game: the serve. It’s one of the easiest ways to win points in a game. As a beginner don’t worry about learning multiple serves just learn one and get really good at it. You’ll also want to get good at serving legally as there are a lot of rules around serving correctly. Make sure you’re throwing the ball up into the air at least 6 inches from an open palm and that you don’t cover the ball with any part of your body. Check out this post on how to serve in ping pong as well as all the rules you need to know.
4. Master the four basic strokes
Along with your serve, you should be working on learning the four basic strokes in ping pong which are:
These are essential strokes to get down and are essential shots in the arsenal of every table tennis player.
5. Warm up before you play
Warming up before you play is essential to avoiding injuries and giving you the full range of movement during your game. At first glance, you might think that table tennis isn’t that physical but if you watch the pros, you’ll see just how much movement is involved with every shot. Check out our post on table tennis warm-ups here for some ideas.
6. Be consistent
Being consistent is so important for winning games and unforced errors can often mean the difference between a win and a loss. It’s common to be able to consistently make a shot in practice but once you start scoring the pressure can affect your mentality and throw you off. When you’re playing a match try to take each point one by one and focus on it as if it were the only point in the whole game.
7. Practice on your own
To see real improvement in your game you’re going to have to practice on your own as you won’t always have a partner to play against. Try to develop a practice routine with time dedicated to each part of your game. For some ideas on what to practice check out our post on how to practice table tennis alone here.
8. Learn multiple serves
As you improve you’ll want to add different types of serve to your repertoire. There are a large variety of different serves both forehand and backhand plus all the different types of spin you can employ to keep your opponent on their toes. A well-timed variation on your usual service can catch your opponent off guard and lead to some easy points.
9. Get a table tennis robot
Going back to tip number 7 about practicing on your own, a great way to see real improvement fast is by purchasing a table tennis robot. If you haven’t seen them they’re essentially machines that will shoot balls at you to replicate an opponents shot. They come in a whole different range of shapes, sizes, costs and features with some that can put different types of spin on the ball and others that can have pre-programmed routines. Check out our post for more information on the best ping pong robots here.
10. Work on low and deep returns
In your practice time, a huge part should be dedicated to making sure the ball is low over the net and that it’s deep into the opponent’s side of the table. The closer you can get the ball to the net the better as it will give them less angle and prevent them from generating power with their return shot.
You also want to be aiming to place the ball deep on the table. It keeps your opponent on the defensive and limits the number of options they have when returning the ball.
11. Join a table tennis club
Another good way of improving is by joining a table tennis club and playing against as many different players as you can. This is a great way to learn from players better than you and get more ideas and tips on improving your game. You’ll also have a lot more fun and meet people with similar interests as you. In the US, you can check Team USA’s website for a list of clubs and in the UK try Table Tennis England to find one near you.
12. Improve your footwork
As you get better and start to play against players a lot better than you, you’ll need to start thinking more and more about your footwork. This is something that professional dedicate a lot of time to as being in the right place to return a shot is crucial. There are a number of different footwork drills you can start practicing and incorporate as part of your warm-up. This video below should give you a few ideas.
13. Figure out your opponent’s weaknesses
Working out what your opposition’s weakness is another great way to get an advantage during a game. If you notice that they keep losing points with their backhand in a certain spot then don’t feel bad about exploiting it and playing more shots into it.
14. Deceive your opponent
Deception in any sport is a great way to gain an advantage over your opponent and table tennis is no different. One of the best ways to deceive someone is during the serve. Try to make the beginning of your service look exactly the same before putting spin on it which hopefully they’re not able to read of expect. This video below covers some of the ways you can do this for maximum effect.
15. Learn to read your opponents serve
Following on from trying to deceive your opponent with your own serve see if you can work out theirs. If you can read what spin they’re putting on it and roughly where they will send their serve you can be ready and will have a lot nicer time getting the ball back over the net.
Of all the tips that we covered today, the most important one is to practice. Over everything that you can do it’s by far the thing that will help you see the biggest improvement in the shortest amount of time. Try to stick to a routine of playing every single day. Even doing 20-30 minutes a day if that’s all the time you have will be a huge step in improving your skills. Good luck and if you have any other tips post them in the comments below!