5 Winning Table Tennis Doubles Strategies

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Being a frequent player of table tennis I know that there are downsides to both singles table tennis and doubles table tennis. We hold many table tennis tournaments on the weekends that we usually play with doubles to get more people involved and I wanted to know what strategies my partner and I could use to beat our opponents.

While researching I read up on a ton of different things to keep in mind when playing doubles in table tennis. Most involved teamwork and how your interaction with your partner means everything. Here are 5 strategies that I think will be the most helpful.

Pick The Best Partner to Play On Your Team

When picking out a partner, most people think to pick the best player but sometimes they aren’t the best choice for you. Say that you are a strong table tennis player and you choose to play doubles with another strong player. Both of you are going to be diving for the balls and nothing will be organized.

So how do you decide which player is the best? What you want is somebody who will fill the areas of skill that you need to improve on. You might be very quick on your feet but your hits don’t have a lot of variety and are very predictable. Someone that can back you up when you miss a hit and add some spin might be a good choice.

One thing that most people don’t think about is what hand their partner prefers to use. Being as right-handed person and having a partner that’s left-handed is not going to work. You’re either both going to be focused on the center of the table or neglect it. Left-handed people have a hard time finding good partners because there aren’t a lot of left-handed people.

Choose Your Serve Technique

In singles table tennis it’s important to mix up the type of serves you choose to do. When playing doubles this is also important but communication is key. Things can become difficult when both of you aren’t on the same page.

Different types of serves can cause your opponent to hit the ball a different way and in a different direction. Putting spin on a ball could make your opponent back-hand the ball or hit it with the front of their paddle. Depending on how they hit it will help you determine where they will hit the ball.

As you can tell this is important to know. If the opponent likes to hit the ball with the front of the paddle and you serve a ball they’ll have to back-hand the ball could go to your partner and vice versa. Tell your partner what you plan to do so both of you can be ready for what’s to come.

Make Sure Your Movements Work Together

If you’re both running all over the place on your side of the table you’re going to perform very inefficiently. You need to decide whether one person is going to be back and the other in front, move side to side, or whatever else could work best for you two.

Staying out of each other's way is the best way to cover the most ground. The most common setup is to have one half of the table for each person. However, utilizing your strengths is how you’re going to come up with the best plan.

One person might be good at hitting the shallow, less bouncy hits so they should be positioned further up. Their partner could be good at reaching farther for ball that have a lot of bounce and distance so they would be positioned in the back.

It’s important to try out different strategies to help you decide which one works for the both of you. Maybe you didn’t do a good job with the person you were playing with because of strategic reasons. In the end the best way to play your best as a group is to practice and try different things out.

Figure Out Your Opponents

When you play doubles you serve only to one person because the rules state you have to serve the ball diagonally. You need to find this person’s weaknesses and use them to your advantage. Make sure to start mixing things up if this person figures out what you’re doing. You have 5 serves in a row so they could change up on you.

The same goes for your team too. Your opponents will go for your weaker spots to score the most points and you’ve got to be ready for them and do the same to them. Say that one player isn’t as good as their partner. Focus on hitting the ball to them in ways they aren’t likely to return it.

Have a Good Attitude

This is probably one of the most important strategies. Boosting your partner’s confidence and them reciprocating their appreciation for your skills will help with both of your self-esteems. Criticism is distracting and often creates conflict between partners and might sabotage the strategy you two planned.

Suggestions or corrections at a proper time and a nice manner are always welcome. You also have to be willing to take the suggestions given to you by your partner. This is all part of the strategy-making process.

Don’t be afraid to recognize a good play from your competitor. You may be competing against each other but it’s better to have everyone playing at their best rather than everyone being flustered.

Related Questions:

Can You Hit a Ping Pong Ball Without Waiting For it to Hit The Table?

According to the official rules of table tennis you have to wait for the ball to bounce once on the table before you’re allowed to return it over the net. Hitting the ball without it touching the play surface is called a ‘volley’. If it bounces more than once on your side you also lose the round.

One circumstance a volley would get you a point is if the ball went over the playing surface and you hit it. This is your point because your opponent had to have the ball bounce on your side at least once. A common misconception is that if you hit the ball in this circumstance that means it’s still in play. However, it doesn’t matter if you hit it because your opponent broke a rule first.

How Do You Put Spin on a Ping Pong Ball?

Putting spin on a ping pong ball is a great way to try and throw your opponent off. Spin is when you hit the ball in a way that causes it to rotate in midair. There three types of spin you can use on a ball; topspin, backspin, and sidespin.

  • Topspin occurs when a player hits the ball at an angle pushing the paddle out and up. This causes the ball to curve downward on your opponent's side of the table. The ball will hit the surface and lunge outwards quicker at your opponent with little time to hit it back.

  • Backspin uses the same maneuver as topspin but instead of moving the paddle out and up you move the paddle down and out. Because the ball pushes itself backward it won’t bounce as far as it typically would.

Sidespin causes the ball to curve either left or right depending on which direction you move your paddle when you hit it. After the ball bounces off the table shift your paddle to either your left or your right and push outwards at the same time. 

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