8 top table tennis tips to improve your game

1. Know what kind of spin is on the ball

The secret is to watch your opponent’s racket and arm movement when it makes contact with the ping pong ball

If your opponent’s racket is moving from:

  • Low to high ― the spin is topspin
  • High to low ― the spin is backspin
  • Their left to right ― the spin is right sidespin
  • Their right to left ― the spin is left sidespin

This will help your game immensely as you will be able to read your opponent’s shot and plan your shot accordingly.

2. Compensate for the spin with your racket angle

  • If topspin, angle your leading racket face down and contact the ball above its center 
  • If backspin, angle your leading racket face up and contact the ball below its center 
  • If right sidespin, angle your leading racket face to the right and contact the ball to the left of its mid-line
  • If left sidespin, angle your leading racket face to the left and contact the ball to the right of its mid-line

While holding your racket at the suggested angle, stroke gently first to get a feel of how it works. Only after you have developed a feel for the spin should you stroke the ball with more force.

Be patient while learning this, you might not get it at first but with constant practice you will understand how it feels like to impart the spins.

3. Use your whole body when you stroke your forehand

Rotate your hips and shoulders backwards during the back swing and then forward into the ball as you stroke your forehand.

You have to transfer your body weight from the back foot to the front foot.

The harder you hit your forehand, the more you have to push off your legs.

A common mistake is to use only your arm to hit the ball, which limits your power and makes you stiff which limits your movement as your legs will get stiff as well.

4. Maintain a good ready position

A good ready position is balanced and prepares your body to move instantly in any direction.

Use it when preparing to return serves and between strokes. Draw a straight line from your forehead to your toes while in the athletic position, this will help you stay balanced with a good center of gravity.

The basic sequence of a table tennis rally is:

  1. Put yourself in a good ready position 
  2. Move to the ball with your feet, staying balanced
  3. Stroke the ball
  4. Return to your ready position
  5. Repeat B, C and D until the rally ends

5. Train your strokes until you do not have to think

When you first learn any table tennis stroke, one has to focus and use a lot of brain power to process the stroke. Once you have done it over and over again, it will be part of your muscle memory so that you no longer have to focus on how to execute the shot.

Your best game will come when you have the ability to use your head to think of planning rather than how to execute your shot techniques.

6. Keep your returns low over the net

In general, the lower over the net you place your shots, the less angle your opponent can use and the harder it is for them to hit it with power. Because it is hard to use power while having to lift up the ball above the net.

The one exception to this is if you use lobs, you will want to place the ball very high over the net and as close to the end of the table as possible to push your opponent back.

7. Practice more

Practice refers to all the time you spend developing your table tennis game by concentrating on certain aspect(s) you want to improve on, for example your forehand finish. The primary objective during practice is to develop your game and your techniques

On the other hand, when you compete, your main objective should be to win, not to work on some part of your game.

It is important to play practice games where the objective is to blend in a new skill or tactic into a match-like situation before you compete as it is hard to fit in a tactic or skill without actually trying it during a practice game.

The more you practice your new skills in a practice game, the more confident you will get to use it in an actual match. Confidence is they key here.

The important point to focus on for these practice games is still on development of your skills and techniques, winning is just a bonus.

And when you do compete, even though your main goal is on winning, you can still learn a lot about your skills and tactics by analyzing your matches after they are over.

8. Get a good sparring partner

To advance your game, it’s important to find players with similar goals and playing levels and practice/train with them.

A table tennis club is a great place to do this or use a website or and app to find players near you. Most clubs have players of all different playing levels.

Find someone at a similar playing level as yourself and commit to practicing/training together on a regular, consistent basis. Try not to get someone significantly weaker than you as it will hinder your progress, sometimes make you worse.

You may also think about getting a coach to help you with certain aspects of your game.

Another practice/training partner option is a table tennis robot. Many table tennis clubs have robots to practice and train with, or you can get one for your home and be able to practice and train anytime you want, for as long as you want.

But it still will not be as effective as a real person as the robot is more for technical practice.

Here are some table tennis robots i recommend.

ZXMOTO Table Tennis Robot with Catch Net Automatic Ping Pong Robot Machine for Training

  • ZXMOTO Ping pong robot helps you improve technical skills . Please use the INTERNATIONAL STANDARD balls with diameter of 40mm (1.57 inches)
  • Accommodates approximately 120 table tennis balls
  • Has a reverse the spin button
  • Many different frequencies
  • Adjustable placement of ball

GDAE10 Automatic Table Tennis Robot, Tennis-Ball-Machine (Super Master Top Version)

  • ★Can shoot 36 type spins (topspin, bottom spin, left-side spin, left-side topspin, left-side bottom spin, right-side spin, right-side topspin, right-side bottom spin and without spin (straight).
  • ★Oscillation range: Selectively sweeps in 8 ranges from corner to corner.Landing spot: Random OR 1-9 Fixed Landing points.
  • ★Spread out the ball collection net with both sides. No assembly or tools are required.Automatically collect and return balls.Function of time and count.
  • ★After finishing your training, fold back the collection ball net in a reverse order of the original process; lock the buckles in a right way. Rolls easily from table for easy storage.
  • ★Language Switch;Irregular Serve; Timer; Start/Stop;Top-wheel Speed;Bottom Wheel Speed;Ball Frequency;Oscillation Speed.

Recommended books

Table tennis tactics for thinkers

Learn table tennis tactics from USATT Certified National Coach and Hall of Famer Larry Hodges. Includes tactics against different styles, grips, and surfaces as well as tactical and strategic thinking. The book opens with this: “Tactics isn’t about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. Tactics is about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work.” The book then explores the tactical and strategic development needed to have the specific tactical tools needed in any given match – your “tactical toolbox.

Recent Posts

%d bloggers like this: