Proper distance from table in table tennis

Proper distance from table in table tennis

What is the optimal distance from the table in table tennis? And what is the correct ready position and stance? What is a good table tennis standing position is a common question of a new player.

So what is the stance in table tennis? The stance is the position or bearing of the body while standing. Likes legs spread in a wide stance and posture assumed when about to play the ball.

In sports, the relative position of the feet, as in addressing a golf ball or in making a stroke is called the “ready position”.

Or some coaches advice that you should put “eye on the net”. Is it a good advice? Coach EmRatThich explains it right now!

Why positioning and footwork are important

I have explained the importance of footwork (based on Chinese coaching) on the previous post. But how about the optimal stance, the best distance from the table?

Coach Larry Hodges has explained the best way to “move to the ball” in his book (Table Tennis: Steps to Success by Larry Hodges).

” You can’t return a ball if you’re 5 feet away as it whizzes by!”

coach Larry Hodges

The better your positioning is, the less distance you’ll have to cover when moving to a shot and the less rushed the shot will be. You have to be able to put yourself in a position that allows you to get to any shot made by your opponent.

Ready position and steady stance in table tennis (from coach Larry Hodges)
Ready position and steady stance in table tennis (from coach Larry Hodges)

Some players stand in one area and just reach for each shot. This means that they hit a ball from their middle forehand, wide forehand, and close to the body forehand differently, as well as all shots in between. The same goes for the backhand. It’s impossible to learn to hit all these different types of forehands and backhands as well as you could learn to hit just one type of forehand and one type of backhand. Reaching instead of moving means you’ll always be off balance when you hit the ball.

That’s why Footwork and positioning always go together.

What is a good ready position in table tennis?

The Chinese philosophy of “Standing Position” is quite clear and simple.

1) They don’t force the player to lower their body to the net. Such things like “Eye around the net height” doesn’t exist. It depends on your height. Some players are short, another one is taller. So there is no rule for that. If you are tall and try to stand “eye at the net”, you can’t move quickly.

Zhang Jike is standing high compared to the net
Zhang Jike is standing high compared to the net

2) But Chinese coaches focus more on distance, and the “weight distribution”. For the distance, you should stand not too close, and not too far from the table. The right distance is about the length of your arm from the table (around 50 cm). Don’t stand too close to the table, it’s really bad for your table tennis (I will explain it later in this video).

Learning “weight transfer” is the best way to improve the power of your forehand!

Learning how to do "weight transfer" in table tennis
Learning how to do “weight transfer” in table tennis

3) “Weight distribution”. It’s the secret that many table tennis coaches didn’t teach the player correctly. You should put all of your weight on the toe, but not on the heel. That means the good standing will help you lean forward easily.

Standing not to close to attack the long ball
Standing not to close to attack the long ball

What is the standing position of pro players

Or if you stand right, someone from behind you, will slightly push your back to make you fall down forward. This is the best way to stand, because you are always ready to move.

This is the standing position of Ma Long and Zhang Jike. They stand differently. It depends on their preference and habit. It seems that Ma Long stands lower than Zhang Jike. But both stand at the good position (that means ready to attack every long ball).

Ma Long ready position
Ma Long ready position

Focus more on the “weight distribution”. Look how Ma Long jumps on his toe. He is ready to lean forward, to fall forward.

You can clearly see that. “Eye on the net” is a bad advice for your standing.
Zhang Jike quickly stands up when the opponent is about to serve (throw
the ball up).

Zhang Jike stands up
Zhang Jike stands up

Zhang Jike looks down his racket to estimate the right distance from the
table. So remember: the distance from the table is much more important thanthe height of your standing.

Zhang Jike looks down his racket to estimate the right distance from the table
Zhang Jike looks down his racket to estimate the right distance from the table

If you are tall, you can stand high. No need to bend the knee, just to have the eye on the net.


Don’t stand too close to the table

You now understand why standing close to the table is really bad. Many
amateur players tend to stand too close to the table, and then struggle to
attack the long ball.

A straight line during a backhand stroke in table tennis
A straight line during a backhand stroke in table tennis

Human is very slow to move backward. It’s better to stand further, you can attack every long ball, and easily step in, move closer to the table to the return the short ball.

I personally know a very good penhold player. He is also a Chinese player. But his problem is: He stands too close to the table. He has a good feeling, a good serve, and aggressive quick attacks. But he made many unforced errors in the rally, because he stands too close to the table, and doesn’t have enough time for the rally.

Why I play badly in a tournament?

Why you play better during the training, but perform badly during the real match?

Because of the bad distance, and anxiety during the official tournament!

My young players do the same mistake. When they train, they stand further
from the table, and they play very well. But every time, in the real match, they stand too close to the table after the service, and miss the ball, or can’t attack the long ball.

Zhang Jike standing position for the Forehand Stroke
Zhang Jike standing position for the Forehand Stroke

The players don’t realize that, but the coach can easily spot this problem. I have my own way to convince these young players, I asked them to film themselves. And after watching the video, they knock the head and change their bad habit.


Optimal distance in table tennis

So keep in mind that, the best distance from the table in ping pong is: the length of your forearm. This is the best distance which is not too far, nor too short (about 40 to 55 cm from the table).

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