Have you seen any of those jaw-dropping table tennis matches during sporting events? If you have, you may have asked yourself how do those players develop such endurance and impressive reflexes to play the game. As this game only requires two people, it is no longer surprising if you are eager to learn how to play ping pong like a pro.
Since the birth of this table tennis or ping pong in the sporting world, there have been several revisions of the rules . In addition, the equipment and technology used alongside the playing styles have changed as well. These refinements have brought about techniques which are now being utilized by many professional and amateur players.
To get started, you need to be equipped with the information on three general areas: equipment and how to find them, the rules of the game, and the techniques you need to practice on with a partner.
Pieces of Equipment You Need to Invest In
The basic equipment you need to learn how to play ping pong are the following:
Note that finding the right equipment takes some skills as well. If you are a complete beginner and do not know how to choose the right one for you, asking an expert would be highly recommended.
8 Easy Steps To Learning how to play Ping Pong By Heart
Step #1. Know How to Choose the Right Equipment
Choosing the right equipment means knowing how to match each of them to your own skill level as well as the playing style. There are certain ratings or standards that can be used to help you in the selection process.
For blades, you can opt for the medium-speed model. This will help you grasp ball control. Other types include defensive blades which are designed for primarily defensive players and beginners. The all-around blades are for those who already know how to mix defense and offense techniques. For advanced players, offensive blades are recommended.
As with choosing the blade or racket, it would also be helpful to choose balls that have a rating of 3 stars as they are more suitable for beginners. These balls weigh around 2.7 grams and are often referred to as small celluloid balls.
Keep in mind that when purchasing equipment, it is better to go to established table tennis or sporting equipment shops. Not only will you have access to a wide range of equipment, you will also be able to seek advice from knowledgeable sales clerks.
Step #2. Perform the Pre-Play Preparation
Many new players have the misconception that table tennis is not as strenuous as other sports, and therefore, they tend to overlook the need to do some warm-up prior the practice or a game. As with any sports, warming up helps your body to get ready for the quickly coordinated moves that this intensive game requires. Also, a cool down exercise after the game is just as important.
Pre-play preparation also requires you to do a few things before heading to the one end of the table tennis table. These includes taking extra balls with you and clearing the space around the table of debris or traffic. Checking the lighting condition is likewise essential.
Step #3. Find A Practice Partner
When searching for a practice partner, you would probably want to select someone with similar skill level as yours or someone who is just slightly better. Choosing someone who is way beyond your level or who is excessively competitive would ruin the ‘fun’ part of learning.
You may choose to compete one-on-one or in doubles. If you are not confident to play with someone or if you feel you need to strengthen your hand-and-eye coordination, you may want to practice against a wall. This would help you strengthen your coordination and get familiar with how the paddle and the ball work.
Step #4. Be Familiar with Grip.
The grip generally refers to how you would hold the paddle. There are standard grips that are used in this sport. One is called the shake hand grip and the other one is the penholder grip.
With the shake hand grip, you hold the handle as though you are shaking hands with someone. On the other hand, the penholder grip is holding the paddle just as how you would hold a pen. Regardless of the grip you choose, what is important to do is to make sure that wrist can move freely.
Step #5. Know the Basic Ready Position and the Right Footwork
When it comes to playing ping pong, the ability to move your body within a diminutive area is an important skill to learn. The ready position refers to the neutral standing position which you need to demonstrate whenever you are ready to receive the ball.
Your feet should be farther apart the width of your shoulder and you need to bend your knees as well. This is to lower your center of gravity. Use your arms to balance your body.
Aside from understanding how to demonstrate the ready stance, you also need to know the basic footwork. Note that footwork could mean taking the smaller steps or veritable leaps when attempting to do a forehand loop or when traversing the table edge for a smash.
Step #6. Determine Who Should Serve First and Learn to Serve
When you are all set for the first game, you need to decide who would serve first. This is done by flipping a coin or by drawing straws. This is the rule states by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). The winner gets to choose who to serve first while the loser chooses which side of the table he or she will play on.
Serving the ball is done by tossing the ball out of the free hand in a vertical direction of at least 16 cms and then hitting the ball with the paddle. Note that the ball should hit your side of the playing table ONCE and should go over the net to hit the opponent side.
If you are playing one-on-one, you can serve and send the ball to any point on the side of the opponent. However, if you are playing doubles, you and your partner will serve on a rotating basis. Serve sides will be switched every two points earned.
A ‘LET’ serve means that ball hits the net and the serve needs to be repeated with no points awarded. When there are two consecutive LETs, the opponent will automatically receive a point.
Step #7. Learn How to Return the Ball
You need to learn how to return the ball over a net. Remember that in order to do this successfully, you need to hit the ball after it bounces once on your side. You need to return before it bounces twice or before it hits the floor.
To keep the game going, you need to make sure that ball goes over the net and also hits his side once. Expect a return from your opponent. Developing a good forehand and backhand stroke is an absolute must to return the ball with success.
You need to also know when to apply the basic strokes such as doing the drive, block, push, and smash. As you develop your ping pong skills further, you will learn how to do more advanced strokes such as the chop, flip, lob, and loop.
Step #8. Score Points to Win
A score is awarded for a non-let rally no matter who served the ball. If you were not able to make a good return, then the point is awarded to your opponent. When you serve but the ball hits the net, hits the wrong half or goes off the table without hitting the side of the opponent, then the point is awarded to your opponent.
If your free hand touches the table, even doing it unintentionally, your opponent will receive a point as well. If you are the receiver but you hit the ball twice with your paddle, the point is also awarded to your opponent.
In order to win, you need to earn 11 points with serves alternating every two points. Winning means you need to be ahead by two points. This is the official rule set by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). For recreational games, some people play to 15 or 21 points.
As with any sport, you can never become a pro overnight. As demonstrated in this step-by-step explanation, playing table tennis is no rocket science. You must hone your skills with regular practice and the application of techniques you will learn over time.
Reviewing the rules of the game as well as participating in friendly competitions would be immensely helpful as well. For beginners, you may want to record your practice and watch it later. This would help you analyze your performance and analyze your form as well.
If you are ready to become a good ping pong player, then, by all means, start practicing. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and clearly how to play ping pong, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them down in the comment section. Feel free to share this as well. Enjoy and may you become the next ping pong wonder.