Ping Pong or table tennis is a great sport you can play indoors and outdoors. It’s great for fitness (for all ages), your brain and for keeping your reflexes sharp. It’s also great for that competitor in you. The good news is you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy ping pong, you just need to know the basic rules and a few ping pong tips and tricks.
Here’s a list of some ping pong tips and tricks to get you started.
1. The Swing
Long swings are ok for tennis or golf, but when you start playing table tennis, try to keep your swing short to get the feel of hitting the ball with control and accuracy. You see, the longer your swing, the bigger the margin for error. You can increase your swing range when you become more confident with your game.
2. Ball Spin
On a similar note, keep track of the ball spin from your opponents shots and the ball spin you use when hitting the ball. If you hit the ball on a 45 degree angle from high to low, you can expect a backspin. This takes a bit of pace off the ball and can reduce the bounce of the ball on the opponent’s side of the table. The best way to reply to this is by compensating by the angle of your racket – angle the lead face of your racket up, contacting the ball below the center. Conversely, if your opponents racket moves from low to high, when striking the ping pong ball, this will produce top spin. Answer him by angling your racket’s lead face down, and make contact with the ball above its center. Either way, touch the ball ever so gently, at least until you get a feel for spin. Then you can start putting more force in your swings for both top spin and back spin shots.
3. Forehand Shots
Speaking of swings, when you do hit forehands, remember to use your whole body, not just the arm. Rotate your hips and shoulders with the swing, first backward, and then forward. It’s important you develop muscle memory, so that the swing becomes your second nature.
You will need to pay attention to your stance and footwork. The best way is to practice the following steps – stand at the ready, knees slightly bent, leaning forward; watch your opponents racket to know what spin to expect; move to meet the ball with your feet first; hit the ball; return to your position; rinse and repeat.
5. Mixing it up
There are more things to cover about the basics, but let’s move forwards with some more advanced stuff – mental games. No, don’t call your opponent names, I mean mix up the types serves and shots you use. Mix up serves with varying lengths and spins. If you haven’t already done it, develop a side spin serve (and remember to shorten your swing). Use a long serve and a short serve, so your opponent doesn’t get used to your serve. This will keep them on their toes and not make it easy for them to return the ball.
6. Third Ball Attack
Practice a “third-ball attack”. Basically, you serve, your opponent returns, then you score. The trick is to be patient until it counts. The most common third-ball attack involves serving a backspin (also called an underspin) most of the time, then switching it to topspin or side spin, which forces your opponent to mis-play it and send a floated or high return. You can then decide whether to smash it (exactly what it sounds like) or place it with either a backhand or forehand, whichever suits you better.
7. Your Own Paddle
Always try to use your own racket, otherwise known as a paddle. The reasons are pretty much self-intuitive – you get used to it. No matter how similar one racket is to another, or even if they came from the same set, there are always small differences – the head is lighter, the handle is a bit scuffed where your palm meets it, you name it. The fact is you’ll play your best if you’re playing with a piece of gear you know intimately.
The above ping pong tips and tricks should give you a basic understanding of shots to practice. If you want to practice at home but don’t have the room for a permanent table, why not look into a table tennis conversion top or an outdoor table. You can even practice on your own.