If you’re a beginner looking for some tips and ideas to improve your table tennis skills then you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a list of our best table tennis tips, tricks and strategies to help you fast track your way to success and win every time. 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 paddle
Getting your own 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. Make sure that you only use this racket as you’ll begin to get used to it and can start working on controlling the ball and trying to hit it to certain parts of the table top. 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 table tennis racket correctly. There are a number of different ways to grip your bat, but, it’s generally recommended for beginners 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 your development later on.
3. Learn how to serve
Now comes one of the most important parts of learning how to play table tennis: the serve. It’s one of the easiest ways to win points in a game and is one of the only times where you have complete control over where the ball goes.
As a beginner, don’t worry about learning multiple ping pong 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 as well as all the rules you need to know.
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4. Master the four basic forehand and backhand strokes
After you’ve begun to get the hang of serving an d hitting the ball where you want it to go, another of the tips that we encourage is to start mastering the four basic type of table tennis strokes:
These are essential forehand and backhand strokes to get down and are key weapons in the arsenal of every table tennis player in the world.
5. Warm up before you play
At first glance, most people don’t associate a table tennis game with being that physical or players having to exert themselves too much during rallies. But, if you’ve ever seen a competitive game you’ll quickly change your mind. The fast pace changes or weight and stretches mean that you can get injured very easily and so warming up before you play is a must to avoid getting injured and giving you the full range of movement during your game. Check out our post on table tennis warm-ups here for some ideas of how to properly stretch and prepare your body for a game.
6. Be consistent
It sounds obvious but, 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 your practice games, but once you start keeping score the pressure can affect your mentality and throw you off your a-game. When you’re playing a match try to take each ball one by one and focus on it as if it were the only point in the whole game. This way you’ll play every point as if it were match point.
7. Practice on your own
To see real improvement in your game you’re going to have to practice and train 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 and become an intermediate player you’ll want to add some 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 and guessing where the ping pong ball will go next. A well-timed variation on your usual service can catch your opponent off guard and lead to some easy points. To learn, we’d recommend checking out some youtube videos, maybe even taking a table tennis course or getting a couple of lessons with a table tennis coach.
9. Get a table tennis robot
Going back to tip number seven 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 a ball at you to replicate an opponent’s shot. They come in a whole different range of shapes, sizes, costs and features with some that can send you topspin and backspin balls with pre-programmed routines to allow you to train both forehand or your backhand stroke or get it to mix it up as if you were playing against a real ping pong player. This without a doubt, is one of the best ways to go from beginner to the next level in the quickest amount of time. 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 of your focus 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 on the ball 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 table tennis 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 table tennis 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 and how you use your feet. This is something that professional table tennis players dedicate a lot of time to as being in the right position to return a ball is crucial. If you really start to take your game more seriously we’d also recommend that you consider buying a pair of table tennis shoes. They’re made especially with the movements that table tennis players make and will help you move around the table quickly and safely. There are a number of different footwork drills you can start practicing and incorporate as part of your warm-up. Check out this video below which should give you a few ideas of routines to try.
13. Figure out your opponent’s weaknesses
A huge part of developing advanced tactics in table tennis is working out what your opposition’s weaknesses are and playing into them to gain the advantage. For example, 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 the ball 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
Finally, our last tip, but by no means least, is to do with reading the table tennis serves of your opponents. It’s hard but see if you can work out what type of shot they’re going to make. 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 on your journey to becoming a world champion!. Good luck and if you have any other tips post them in the comments below!