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).
- Learn the basic signal of the umpire. You need to understand these signs (in the official competitions)
- What is the legal and acceptable serve in table tennis?
- Etiquette and sportsmanship in table tennis that every serious player should know.
- Most useful terms in table tennis (what is let, double hit, rally, or fault?)
- The most common confusing situation and what to do if there is a disagreement between the players?
2. Master the basic skills in ping pong
In your first 2 years in your career, you must learn these fundamental skills. It’s the 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 the solid foundation and knowledge of this sport.
- There are 4 types of footwork in table tennis. Every player must learn it first to know how to move correctly. Because table tennis is a coordination game. You need to move before hitting the ball.
- Forehand techniques: forehand drive, forehand push, forehand topspin (close), forehand loop (far), forehand attack the semi-long ball, forehand smash, and forehand flick technique.
- Backhand skills: backhand drive, banana flick, strawberry flick, backhand push, backhand topspin (close), and backhand loop (far).
- Master the advantages of each type of grip. Know how to hold and how to use the finger to apply the pressure at the moment of contact.
- Learn how to spin the ball.
- The optimal contact point for each type of shots. Topspin, backspin, smash has different hitting point.
You should also read this book, there are some tips to improve your basic skills. (Read review)
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.
- 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 the international competitions because they have Liu Guoliang, one of the best coach in the World.
- Learn how to deal with a better player. Change your tactics and play to the opponent’s weakness.
- Struggle with long pips and defensive chopper? Don’t worry, here are some tips.
- How to win long pimples with Ma Long’s tactics.
- Quickly identify the player’s strength and weakness
- Strategy to win just after your serve. Know where to attack to (elbow, backhand or wide forehand position).
- Understand the “3rd ball attack” concept
I recommend you read this good book about the tactics in table tennis (Read review)
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.
- Choose the best rubber for backhand
- Learn how to glue and re-glue your rubbers. Bad glue will affect the performance of the combo. Don’t reglue too many times with water-based glue.
- If you use Chinese rubber, you need to learn how to tune it. Every player boosts Chinese rubber before gluing.
- Choose the right equipment that fits your style
- Know how to identify fake Chinese rubbers
- Learn the right way to cut table tennis perfectly. Choose the best tool if you need to cut many rubbers (for the coach, shop manager, educator).
- Read all the article related to equipment.
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).
- Don’t have a coach, and want to train at home. Here you are, the best tool to practice alone.
- Simple exercises for beginners to practice daily
- Learn how to breathe during the practice session
- The “secret” Chinese training method
- Practice without the table, perfect your timing and acceleration skills
7. Go to professional level
Professional players who always try new things in this sport. That’s the reason that they stay on the top of the others. Understand the new trend in table tennis, and perfect your skills (timing, power, tactics). This will help you advance to the next level.
Zhang Jike’s micro-adjustment to maximize the acceleration before doing the backhand flick
- Coordination and transition between the shots
- Improve your “micro-adjustment”
- Timing and acceleration at the right moment
- Know how to improve power to your shots
- Apply the concept “Power from the ground“
- Shorten your strokes to get the quicker recovery
- Understand the Chinese concept “Yin Pai”
- Learn the perfect skills from the top players: Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike, Harimoto Tomokazu, Xu Xin, etc.
- Read the advanced table tennis techniques