To take your game further, just mastering the basic table tennis skills can only get you so far. Being able to play the long game, read your opponent’s weak spots and deliver the right shots that destabilise their game will make you a stellar player. Use your quick wit and agility to make your play style unpredictable and corner your opponent. There are several components to consider in order to become an expert table tennis player. We’ve compiled a list for you to get started:
How to take your table tennis game to the next level
1. Master the spin
In table tennis, it isn’t about hitting the ball hard as possible – it’s about creating spin. This is what sets apart a beginner player from an expert player. By being able to skilfully serve a shot with spin, you make it extra challenging for your opponent to return the shot. Ensure that you have mastered the fundamental skills of table tennis first, such as holding the racket correctly, and being able to perform the backhand and forehand, before you try adding spin.
There are three basic types of spin techniques: the topspin, the backspin and the side spin. The topspin is a great attacking technique where a significant amount of power is brought to the ball, causing it to curve downwards. The backspin is a defensive shot that offers a good way to counter a fast shot, while the sidespin is a versatile shot that can be classified as both an attacking and a defensive shot.
2. Develop a wide repertoire of shots
You can bet your opponent would also be using the spin to their advantage. How do you counter these types of serves? After mastering the basic forehand and backhand serves, start exploring other types of serves and shots, like the forehand flick, the backhand flick, the backhand loop and semi-long serves.
The forehand flick is an advanced technique that allows you to effectively deal with a short ball on your forehand side. The backhand flick is used to return serves with topspin or sidespin. Being able to not only serve these attack shots, but vary these shots throughout the game would ensure you keep your opponent on their toes.
When you reach a level of expertise where you can vary your shots, you are now in a position to control the pace and rhythm of the game. You can expertly fend off incoming shots and decide when to play a fast shot and when to play a slow one.
3. Understand your opponent’s playing style
By understanding your opponent’s style of play, whether they’re a forehand dominant player or a backhand dominant player, you will be able to adapt your serves accordingly.
A forehand dominant player uses a forehand grip and usually stands on the backhand side and is prone to pivots. To attack such a player at their weak points, serve more long shots at his backhand side and short and long at the forehand side. To use his dominant hand, he would need to step around – and in this way you weaken his play and take control of the game. A backhand dominant player uses a backhand grip, feet are parallel and he stands close to the centre of the table. Try serving to their elbow – which is their weakest point.
It’s interesting to note that backhand players are a rarer breed, making up just 30% of players.
4. Perfect your footwork
Don’t underestimate the power of good footwork. By having footwork that is quick and precise, you improve the quality of your shots. Additional advantages to mastering your footwork is quicker recovery, more powerful shots and an increased consistency in your shots and techniques.
Ensure that your table tennis drills consist of a variety of footwork drills so you can master the four main types of footwork: two steps pattern, quick jump, side by side, cross over. By practicing these drills regularly, you allow your body to get used to performing these actions through muscle memory.
Browse Sin Ten’s range of table tennis equipment
Sin Ten Sports Trading, a premium sports store located in Singapore, offers a range of table tennis equipment for you to select from, from table tennis blades, to balls to tables. Contact us if you would like to find out which would suit your play style and level of experience.