The biggest difference between professional players and amateurs players is timing. Timing is the key to consistency and proper stroke mechanism. Top players hit the ball at the right timing. Amateur players try to hit very fast but retard at the next step. Today, we discuss the table tennis timing: How to hit the ball at the right moment.
Why is table tennis timing important?
Almost every amateur players want to make a fast attack to finish the point. They use forehand topspin or smash. But the speed of the shot often has more to do with proper technique than physical strength. They want their shots faster but don’t know the correct timing.
Bad timing will increase unforced error in table tennis.
The best way to present the element of “speed” is to discuss timing. A stroke that is too early is no better than one that is too late. As a coach, I see many new players is over-hitting and accelerating too soon on their looping strokes.
To hit a ball at full power, you must be in perfect position and perfect timing to make a strong shot.
Tips to learn the correct timing
If your loops are not consistent, SLOW DOWN & LEARN THE RIGHT TIMING! You might be surprised to find that when you slow down, your strong shots (loop kill, smash) start landing much more often.
I’ve explained to you the tip number 3 “Fix the position of the ball”. Timing is extremely important in table tennis. Slowing down is more helpful than rushing.
Most strokes should be controlled until the point of contact with the ball, at which time you should accelerate into the ball (a half of second before the contact point).
I will show you the optimal timing for each type of strokes. The research of Bootsma et al. about “timing an attacking forehand drive in Table Tennis” of male top players shows some interesting results. This the conclusion to improve your stroke timing:
1. Making the contact at exactly the preplanned position
Making the contact at exactly the preplanned position is the most important tip. That’s the principle of my tips “fix the position of the ball before hitting”. The timing of the top players is very precise.
The precision is very high, less than 5ms for these 5 players (1/200th of a second).
2. The timing will definitely affect the consistency
You should aim to increase the consistency! Think about the consistency to improve your timing. Best Chinese players train every day to keep the high consistency of their shots.
3. Understand the 5 timing positions
There are 5 timing positions of the ball trajectory that you should master. You can separate the 5 positions of hitting on the trajectory of the ball. From 1 to 5. The position 3 is the highest position.
- Position 1: The ball just starts to bounce up
- Position 2: The ball is at the rising stage
- And Position 3: The ball is at the highest position of the bounce
- Position 4: The ball is in the descending phase
- Position 5: The ball has fallen down a lot
The optimal timing for each type of strokes
Each type of stroke in table tennis has a precise timing. You need to learn to hit the ball at the optimal timing position.
You don’t have much time for this shot because you must hit when the ball is still on the table and you can miss the ball. So you should flip the ball at its highest position. At this position, the ball “stops” traveling. The chance that you miss the ball therefore decreases.
Learn the backhand flick technique in table tennis.
You should push the ball early, near it’s highest point. If you push too late, the ball can jump up high and is easy to be attacked. If you don’t want to miss the ball, you can push very hard at it’s highest position.
You should chop the ball late, at the position around your hips. If you chop too soon, the ball is still high and it’s difficult to “chop downward” correctly, and your ball is not spinny and can be very high. So wait and chop at the low position.
Loop topspin ball, you should loop and counter loop the topspin ball after the highest position. Normally, the ball’s coming with a lot of speed and spin. This position gives you more time, and the speed and spin are reduced. If you want to loop the backspin ball, hit at it’s highest position. It’s the safest position to avoid the ball goes to the net due to its backspin.
Loop the topspin ball, you should hit just after the highest position when the ball starts to falling down. Because of the nature of the backhand stroke, you must “lift” the ball, make the ball goes “upward” and “forward”. So wait for a little, hit by spinning the ball “upward”.
Backhand counter loop or Backhand block:
For this stroke, you need to close your racket to counter the topspin ball. So hit the ball before the highest position. Don’t hit too late, you can’t close your racket when the ball has dropped down. Hit earlier, you can also borrow the opponent’s force.
Drop shot technique is an effective way to return the short ball. You need to contact the ball very soon. At the position 1-2.
Forehand topspin and counter-attack far from the table
Forehand loop far from the table requires you to use the power from the ground concept. You should contact at the falling stage 4 to 5.
Forehand topspin loop the underspin ball
Attack the heavy underspin ball requires you to hit at the right timing. Hit just after the highest bounce, position 3 to 4.
I have summarized the optimal timing for several types of stroke in table tennis in this table. So please remember:
Remember these tips and tricks to win at ping-pong:
- You have MORE time than you think; but, you may still not have enough time (tip number 18 of lenisms).
- LEARN THE OPTIMAL TIMING! FIX THE POSITION OF THE BALL!
Let me know which is your best timing stroke. Share and Rate this tutorial if you like it.