May 22, 2023 - Table Tennis Gems

I think you'll find these 20 general tips useful. Many are covered in other Tips, but now they are compiled in one listing!

  1. If your opponent hits the ball aggressively at your crossover point between your forehand and backhand (where your playing elbow is), return it mostly with your backhand if you are close to the table, with your forehand if you are away from the table.
  2. Learn to place your shots either to the wide corners or to the opponent's crossover point between backhand and forehand (roughly his playing elbow).
  3. When the incoming ball is traveling slowly (serves, pushes, chops, etc.) use more wrist. When the ball is traveling fast (fast drives or loops, etc.), use less wrist.
  4. If your opponent is looping your serve effectively, you have three options: 1. Serve shorter (so ball would bounce twice before going off the end of the table) so opponent can't loop; 2. Serve faster, so he cannot get into position or react; 3. Lose.
  5. If your opponent keeps hitting forehand winners from his backhand corner, play to his forehand first, and then come back to his backhand.
  6. When playing a combination racket, don't avoid the off-surface. The off-surface (long pips, anti, etc.) is a weakness in your opponent's game, or everyone would use the stuff. Learn how to exploit it and play both sides tactically.
  7. Don't go into a match with the goal of winning - it can only hurt. Go into the match with the goal of playing your best, and you will maximize your chances of winning.
  8. Age and smart tactics will often beat youth, athleticism, skill, and poor tactics.
  9. Learn to serve legally. Someday an umpire might require you to do so.
  10. There is nothing more sorry than working for the point, getting the shot you want, and hitting it to the one spot on the table your opponent can reach. Place your shots.
  11. If, in a typical game, you miss two easy winning shots because of lack of concentration, you are rated at least 100 points lower than you would be if you concentrated throughout.
  12. If you have trouble topspinning against backspin, you probably aren't opening your racket enough. If you have to strain to lift a backspin ball, you definitely need to open your racket more.
  13. When you block, sink the ball straight through the sponge to the wood. You should hear and feel the wood. (This is different than a "topspin" block where you essentially spin the ball off the bounce.)
  14. Develop two types of serves: serves that you can consistently follow up with the type of attack or rally that you want, and "trick" serves meant to fool an opponent outright. Develop both, but rely on the first type. Don't overuse the latter or they will lose their effectiveness.
  15. One of the quickest ways to improve is to learn to serve short (usually backspin) and, since most players will push it back long, follow with a well-placed forehand or backhand loop.
  16. A spinless serve that looks spinny is more effective than a spinny serve that looks spinny. To serve no-spin, simply contact the ball near the throat of the blade (where racket travels slowest) instead of near the tip (where racket moves fastest), but still use a spinny-looking motion.
  17. It is easier to serve short consistently if you make the first bounce on your side of the table closer to the net, and by grazing the ball so the ball has more spin than forward motion.
  18. To serve the ball so it bounces very low on the other side, contact the ball at net level or lower; graze it so it's mostly spin; make first bounce closer to your own endline but not so close that you can't keep it short (assuming you want to); and have it cross the net as low as possible.
  19. When serving fast, make the first bounce on your side of the table as close to your endline as possible. Make the second bounce on the opponent's side of table as close to his endline as possible. This maximizes the amount of table for the ball to drop onto, and so maximizes how fast you can serve. It also jams and rushes the opponent by going deep.
  20. If you win the first game easily against a player near your level, watch out! He has nothing to lose in the next game, and you do.