If you're looking for some tips increase your skill and become a better all around table tennis player, you're probably not alone: table tennis looks deceptively easy until you actually start playing the game. This fun and friendly sport is a favorite among both professional and amateur players but can be frustrating to play unless you understand some key techniques to becoming a better player. Whether you play competitively or on the weekends, table tennis can be very satisfying when you know what you're doing and keep you coming back for more. These five basic tips will demonstrate some essential skills crucial to successful game performance, keeping in mind that it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that matters.
Spin is what happens when any paddle makes contact with the ball. Depending on what angle you come at, the force of the paddle and the velocity at which the ball travel are all important factors that will ultimately determine which direction it rebounds towards you. This is not a case of chance, however. Watching the ball is a great way to glean clues about where it's headed and how you need to position yourself in order to best return the volley. If your opponent's racket is coming from below and connecting high, then you can safely assume it will be a topspin. The other way around will be a backspin. If they are moving from left to right, you can be sure it'll be a right sidespin, and conversely, from the other direction a left sidespin.
Once you see how they hit the ball you will have the advantage in positioning yourself. If there is topspin, angle the paddle downwards to connect directly at the center. If a backspin occurs, aim your paddle face up and aim for right below the center. If the ball has a good right sidespin, make sure you face slightly to the right and make your connection just to the left of the midline. Conversely, a left sidespin should be dealt a left-facing blow just to the right of the mid-line. When you are getting the hang of dealing with spins, hit lightly at first to better gauge how the ball will react. After you become more comfortable, connect with more force.
Staying ready will keep you on your toes and prepared for whatever comes your way. Not only will you be balanced and able to move either direction swiftly, but you'll be able to return just about any ball regardless of how deep or shallow the hit is. Always return to your central ready stance after hitting the ball. When you do make connection, make sure to put your whole body into it. Rotate your hips and transfer your body weight to the back foot. Do not only use your arm to hit, as that limits your power and consistency.
Only when your strokes are automatic will your timing improve. When you first begin playing table tennis, you expend a lot of energy simply gauging your reaction time and trying to get your positioning right. Practicing your moves until you no longer have to weigh each decision will free you up to enjoy the game while developing more subtle intuitive game skills. Once you feel comfortable enough with the game itself you'll find that your performance improves leaps and bounds since you are no longer questioning or determining your response. A good practice session means playing to learn, not compete. Develop your game play by focusing on one aspect you want to strengthen each session. Emphasizing development over winning while in practice frees you to explore and develop your strengths and weaknesses to become a better all-around player.
This might sound silly, but there's a reason players get superstitious about their paddles. This is because each one is a little different. Getting to know its characteristics and weaknesses will serve you in the long run. Once you choose a paddle, stick with it exclusively and treat it respectfully. Wash it after every use and keep it in a case to avoid banging the surface out of shape. Any serious player will benefit greatly from carefully selecting and safeguarding his paddle.
Don't just react to a serve coming at you, learn how to make your opponent run. Top players always use sidespin on their serve, as it severely limits your opponent's options on the return. Aim for a serve low to the net for better chance at scoring as this will give you a better shot at making the ball bounce. Combined with a topspin or backspin, this serve is hard to beat and will fast put you ahead of the competition.