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How To Play Table Tennis – 7 Successful Steps

Table tennis is a difficult sport! Yes! One of the hardest sport! I’m a coach and I understand well this. Today, I will show you how to play table tennis step by step.

Table tennis is not the same as ping pong. It requires you to learn the techniques seriously.  If you train the wrong way, you can’t improve even with 20 years of playing. But if you practice and play table tennis the right way, you will improve fast to the advanced level. Here is the correct way to learn and play this sport. Here are the 7 steps to play table tennis, based on the Chinese coaching concept.

1. Learn the most important rules

Yes, you need to quickly learn the basic rules. This helps you in the long runs (like don’t practice illegal serve). It’s very hard to change your bad habit after a long time. So it’s very important to learn the basic rules (especially for the service).

red card, yellow card, white card, do you know all of these rules
red card, yellow card, white card, do you know all of these rules

2. Master the basic skills in ping pong

In your first 2 years in your career, you must learn these fundamental skills. It’s a must! And there are about 10 skills to learn and master as fast as possible. The next step is to learn these techniques. Chinese coaches have a solid foundation and knowledge of this sport.

Play table tennis by learning the basic skill first
Play table tennis by learning the basic skill first

You should also read this book, there are some tips to improve your basic skills. (Read review/ Check price)

But if I don’t have time? I don’t have a coach. What to do?

The best way to improve your basic skills is to learn with the coach. But if you don’t have the opportunity to do that, you can learn ping pong online (table tennis course for beginners)

3. Learn several types of service & returning serve

The serve is the most important shots in table tennis. Why? Because every rally will begin with a serve. Liu Guoliang said that “A good serve makes 50% a value of a player”. So if you have a good serve, you already have a higher chance to win.

Play table tennis step by step by mastering several type of service
Play table tennis step by step by mastering several types of service
  • Chinese coach teaches how to make the spinny serve first, and then ask the player to make the serve shorter. While Western players learn how to serve short first, and struggle how to add spin the serve. Learn how to add side spin to the serve.
  • Forehand pendulum serve is one of the most used and powerful serves in this sport. That’s why you must learn to do this serve perfectly.
  • If you are the backhand oriented players, you should learn the reverse pendulum serve.
  • “Ghost serve” is the trade-mark serve of Ma Lin. You should learn it too.

And now, you need to deal with the opponent serve. Learn how to return their serve correctly and safely. It’s silly that you just lose the point easily because you can’t read the spin, right? Chinese coach emphasized a lot on the returning service. Top Chinese players rarely lose the point on the returning service. They are very consistent.

  • How to read the spin on the serve.
  • What to do after your serve? Do you just serve and stand there? No, do the right thing! but how?

4. Understand tactics, the psychology, and the match-play

You have the foundation skills, what to do next? If you don’t have good tactics, a good plan, you can’t win! Top Chinese players have dominated international competitions because they have Liu Guoliang, one of the best coach in the World.

I recommend you read this good book about the tactics in table tennis (Check price) Or this book, where you can understand the basic strategy in table tennis (Read review)

5. Choose the right equipment

It’s nothing wrong to focus on your equipment. Skills take 80% of success, and equipment takes 20%. Choose the best rackets that fit your style. Hitter, loopers, defender, close-to-table, or all-round style play with a different kind of equipment.

Play ping pong with the right equipment helps you improve faster
Play ping pong with the right equipment helps you improve faster

6. Learn how to train and practice daily

Top players advance to a very high level because they train every day. If you want to go to the same level, practice hard! In your training sessions, focus on the “quality” but not the “quantity”. That will make you the best player, but not the good one. (Chinese philosophy of training in table tennis).

Training is the only way to advance to the next level in table tennis
Training is the only way to advance to the next level in table tennis

7. Go to professional levels

Professional players who always try new things in this sport. That’s the reason that they stay at the top of the others. Understand the new trend in table tennis, and perfect your skills (timing, power, tactics).

How to play ping pong correctly
Table tennis is a hard sport. I’ve seen many players (my players) played for 20 years, but they won’t play better. But you should never give up.

This will help you advance to the next level.

Zhang Jike’s micro-adjustment to maximize the acceleration before doing the backhand flick

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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