Practice Your Table Tennis Footwork

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I recently got to play against a table tennis player pro. And wow their footwork was amazing! I’ve just been playing on the table tennis top and didn’t even think about my table tennis footwork. They were moving all over the place and I was just standing still. So I started doing some research in order to better my game by working on table tennis footwork.

So how to practice your table tennis footwork?

Strong and well practiced footwork if essential part of a table tennis player’s skills in the competitive field. It lets you reach the ball quicker and easier letting you gain more points. This also give you more accuracy and speed in your play which puts pressure on your opponent.

The goal is the maintain good footwork throughout the game to serve a well balanced game while playing your stroke. There are three main footwork patterns you can practice: side to side, in and out, and cross over foot pattern. I will cover them below. 

Here's a break down of Table Tennis Footwork patterns:

Side to Side (Shuffle) pattern: This is the main footwork pattern you use during table tennis. You use this pattern when you are close to the table. You move left or right foot, and you always lead with the outside foot. So when you are moving left you lead with your left foot and when you are moving right you lead with your right foot. You start at the ready position with both foot planted parallel to each other, then you shuffle in quick and small steps side to side. 

In and Out pattern : this footwork is to return a move to play your stroke. It’s a short service and short return move. You move your right leg under the table so you can get closer to the ball, you play your shot and move back out again returning to the ready position where both of your feet are perpendicular to the table. After you’ve played your stroke, your right foot moves back out and your left foot then returns to its original position. You are back to the ready position where you are ready for your next stroke.

Cross-over foot pattern: Great for covering large area quickly, you utilize this foot pattern when you play a wide forehand style. This is a great footwork when you don’t have enough time to use the side to side footwork pattern. You move your backhand side to wide forehand side, and you move your left foot wide to the right then using the left foot as a pivot you move your right foot across and you play your host.

Serving Foot Work: When serving most players make a small step forward and return to the ready position and jump into shuffle stepping. By mastering this you can reply to shots after service with much better accuracy. 

Professional Table Tennis players start with basic footwork. That is one the basic practices of table tennis. You can break down table tennis moves so you can better practice into a bunch of different moves. Besides stance one the the most important things to practice and master in Table Tennis is strokes.

What are the different strokes in table tennis? 

Some of the basic table tennis strokes that we will be covering are: 

  • Drive
  • Push
  • Block
  • Loop
  • Counter loop
  • Flip
  • Chop
  • Smash

What is a table tennis drive? 

This a great shot when you are having fun with your friends, give you a good feel of the ball and is the most basic stroke. A drive is a flat shot with only a little to no spin hit hard over the table with the intention of putting the ball fast past your opponent. Once you’ve mastered this, you can transition into loops and pushes pretty easily. 

What is a table tennis push? 

Like a drive, a push is where the paddle is angled very open so while the trajectory is straight with some backspin. This is a generally a defensive shot. Pushes are generally used on short, low serves that would be difficult to attack. If you can't attack a ball, the next best option is to ensure a higher success rate in getting the ball back. Pushes should be kept low and short.

What is a table tennis block? 

In table tennis, a block is a shot with very little stroke. It is  a redirection of the opponent shot that you use in defensive play. You'll want to get good at blocking your opponent's loops, which is somewhat of a surprise attack. Relying on the spin of your opponent’s hand, you're redirecting their power back to them in a short, quick stroke. 

What is a table tennis chop? 

A chop is a heavy underspin shot. A chop forces the ball to drop downwards when it hits an opponent's paddle. It’s a type of shot with a heavy backspin. A chop is used by defensive players to slow down the ball and try to force a mistake from his opponent. In a chop, the bat angle is open. Unlike any other shot in Table Tennis, the racket is brought down against the ball in a chopping motion to send the ball deep onto the table. By doing this it forces your opponent to try and loop again, therefore leading to chop rallies. If the ball is returned poorly, most modern defenders will open up with a loop  or smash in order to try and win the point. A table tennis chop is not suitable for attacking play methods, since offensive rackets are not great for chopping. 

What is a table tennis flip? 

It is attacking over a table shot. Also known as a flick, a table tennis flip is a stroke used to attack short backspin balls. When the ball lands after a serve or a push, the player leans over the table and lifts it up with the goal of putting it fast into the opposite corner with a small amount of topspin. 

What is a table tennis loop? 

A loop is a fast, heavy, attacking top spin shot great for offensive attack. Loops against topspin/flat balls have a more closed bat angle and the follow through will be more in front of you. Against backspin, the stroke starts lower, has a more open paddle angle, and comes up in a brushing motion, with the paddle ending in a "salute" position on the follow through because you are trying to redirect the heavy backspin. This heavy backspin will have the ball spin right into the net.  Looping any ball that is long is a popular strategy as aggressors generally win points. The top players all loop constantly, only using defense when absolutely necessary.

What is a table tennis counter loop? 

It is looping off of an opponent’s loop. It’s an offensive technique that required a lot of control and feel over the ball. 

What is a table tennis smash?

A table tennis smash is a very aggressive high shot slamming shot, slamming it into the table hard. 

Related questions: 

How should I stand when playing table tennis?

Make sure that your weight is on your toes so your weight is going forward also make sure that you bend your knees in order to lower your center of gravity. This will give you a stronger footing when moving around. 

What is a dead table tennis ball? 

A dead ball is a ball without any spin. 

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