Top 7 table tennis mistakes

Top 7 table tennis mistakes

Common table tennis mistakes

by nakamo

These are some of the most common mistakes in table tennis. We see this often and even experience this ourselves when we first started out. We thought we should make a list since most players experience this.

1. Holding the table tennis bat too tightly

If you hold the table tennis bad tightly, your muscles in your forearm will start to get stiff, this will slow down your movement and make your strokes look stiff and not smooth. You will also stiffen up your movement as your legs also get stiff when you hold your bat tight. You will find it hard to adjust your angle or even switch from forehands to backhands.

The secret is to hold your bat lightly, not so much that it will fly out, but just enough so your arm still maintains its flexibility. You will find it easier to move and to switch from stroke to stroke, enabling you to use your legs, move quick and create more force in your strokes.

2. Standing too close to the table

If you stand close to the edge of the table, you will have a hard time trying to return balls that land deep, this is because you will have to space to hit the ball. The balls will be too close to you and you will not be able to execute proper strokes.

Make sure you have some space between you and the table, maybe one to one and a half feet away.

With this you have enough space to hit when the balls land deep, however if they land short.. make sure you move in and get the balls, because moving in is easier than moving backwards, remember to recover back to the one feet spacing after.

3. Standing with right leg forward (for right handers)

Don’t stand with your right foot infront of your left foot. Beginners often do this when playing the backhand strokes.

You can actually play backhands with your right foot forward, but you’re stuck if the ball is then switched to your forehand. Your body position will be wrong and you will find it difficult to play a decent forehand.

Instead, there are 2 simples ways to stand – stand with your feet either square to the table or with your right foot slightly further back than your left foot.

With your feet in this position, you can play strong backhand strokes, and it is much easier to switch to your forehand and play forehand strokes.

If you’re a left handed player, the advice is the same, but your feet should be the other way around.

4. Massive follow-through for forehand strokes

When you play your forehand strokes, do you bring your bat up all the way cross your body and finish on your left shoulder like a tennis follow through? If so, your stroke is too long and you will find it hard to recover to play another shot.

Instead, try to finish your forehand strokes somewhere in front of your body. This is where you should finish your forehand strokes mostly. If you finish your forehand strokes in the middle, you will be ready to play the next shot and the next shot and the next shot and so on.

Because in table tennis the ball comes back quick and you want to be ready as fast as possible

5. Sloppy table tennis bat control

Inconsistent shots are often caused by weak bat control. The bat flops forwards or backwards when contacting the ball.The rest of the stroke may be good, but if the bat is floppy on contact, you will never achieve great consistency.

You need to keep control of the racket head and make sure that the bat angle is consistent throughout the stroke.

For example, if you are playing a backhand drive, the bat angle should be slightly closed at the beginning of the stroke, slightly closed during contact with the ball and slightly closed when finishing the stroke. The bat angle is consistent throughout the stroke and so the shot is consistent.

6. Reaching for balls

Reaching for balls which are wide to your forehand or wide to your backhand with an outstretched arm will create weak shots.

You may not even reach the ball if it is very wide. If you do manage to contact the ball, your shot will be weak and you will lack control.

Move your feet to get closer to the ball, make sure you can get behind it so you get into a good position to use your legs and arm to create force toward the ball. This may not always be possible so you have to react fast and be fast.

7. Hitting the ball too hard

Don’t hit the ball too hard. If you try to hit the ball too hard, without the correct technique, you’ll make too many mistakes.

Instead, just hit about 70%-80% power. It is much easier to learn better technique if you start slow. You will have so much more success playing slower but with good technique, good ball placement and high consistency than with out-of-control power shots.

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.

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