Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is an exciting game that can be played by two or four players. Even those who play for pleasure can quickly become expert players; table tennis at the professional level is a real sight to behold. This article presents the main rules of table tennis as well as tips for winning.
Part 1 of 3: Playing the game
Step 1. Find someone to play with
It is recommended that you start by playing with someone of your level or a little higher level, and preferably with someone who is not aggressively competitive. In this way, you can have fun learning to play. You can play one on one, or you can play in teams of two, known as doubles. And someone with regulation ping-pong balls, rackets and a table is recommended if you don't have access to one!
- If your hand-eye coordination is more on par with a three-legged blind dog, you may want to start practicing against a wall and familiarize yourself with how the ball and racket work together. For the record, it is best on a table against the wall.
- It is advisable to play or practice with 40mm size orange or white balls. The table should be 2.74 meters long, 1,525 meters wide and 0.76 meters high. In reality, ping-pong rackets are not a regulation size. Small racquets are difficult to use satisfactorily and larger racquets are too heavy and difficult to handle. But they must be made of wood and rubber and the competition rackets must have two colors.
Step 2. Learn how to hold the racket
There are two styles commonly used to hold the racket: the Asian hold ("penhold") and the European hold. Regardless of how you grip the racket, it is important to hold it loosely to allow your wrist to move freely. If your wrist is tight around the handle, most of your force for returns will come from your arm, not your wrist, and you won't be as accurate. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to grab a racket:
With the Asian dam, you essentially hold the handle just like you would hold a pencil. With the European hold, you put your hand on the handle of the racket as if you were shaking it, and then wrap your fingers loosely around it. The most important thing is to make it feel the most natural for you
Step 3. Decide who serves first
According to the official rules of the Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the right to choose who to serve first is determined "by lot" (that is, tossing a coin or drawing straws, etc.), the winner chooses whether to serve first or which side of the court they prefer. If the winner chooses to serve or receive, it is up to the opposing player or team to choose which side of the court they will play on and vice versa.
However, in most recreational ping-pong games, serve is determined by a rapid exchange of blows, typically with each player spelling out one letter of the word P-I-N-G for each blow they make. After spelling the word P-I-N-G, the person to win the exchange of blows serves first or chooses which side of the table he wants to play
Step 4. Serve
You must throw the ball with your free hand vertically a minimum of 16 cm (6 inches), and then hit it with the racket so that it first lands on your side of the table one time and then go over the net and land on your opponent's side.
- If you are playing a singles game, the server can serve anywhere on the opponent's side of the table, and then the opponent must respond. If you are playing doubles, the serve is rotated between you and your partner, starting with the one on the right, and the ball must first land on the right half of your side of the table and then take a cross shot to the side of your opponent.
- The serve changes sides every two points. After scoring two points, your opponent (or in doubles, the person on the opposing team that receives the server's cross shot) has to serve. After scoring two more points, then the original server (or in doubles, his partner) serves.
- If the ball touches the net on an otherwise legal serve, the serve is a "let" or foul and is repeated without any points being awarded. After two consecutive fouls, the point goes to who should receive the service. At match point, the person who is losing must be the server.
Step 5. Return the ball
After a serve or return, it is possible to return the ball over or around the net to any point on your opponent's side of the table. The ball must be returned after bouncing once on your side but before it bounces twice or hits the floor or any other object off the table.
If the ball touches the net on a return, but goes over the net and lands on your opponent's side, the ball is still in play and your opponent must return it
Step 6. Mark points
One point is awarded for every point that is not a fault, and either opponent can score a point regardless of who served. Here is the essential point:
If your serve hits the net, it leaves the table without landing on your opponent's side, or (in doubles) it lands on the wrong half on your opponent's side, the receiving opponent or team scores a point.
- If you don't make a legal return (as described above: the ball hits the net or doesn't land on your opponent's side of the table), your opponent is awarded a point.
- If you receive a legal serve or return and hit the ball more than once with your racket or touch the ball with your body, your opponent is awarded a point. Note that if your opponent's serve or return does not land on your side of the table, you still get the point even if the ball hits you or if you catch it after passing the edge of the table.
- If you touch the table with your free hand or move the table, your opponent scores a point.
Step 7. Win the game
Many people like to play to 21 or 15 (alternating serve every 5 points), which is fine for a recreational game. However, the official rule is to play up to 11 points (alternating serve every two points). To win, one must have a two point advantage. For example, if the players or teams are tied 10-10 or 20-20, the normal service order continues, but the server changes ends after every point, instead of every two points.
Step 8. Play again
In authorized competitions, matches are won by the player or team that wins two games out of three. Players change sides after each game, and also change places in the third game (if a third game is necessary) when a player or team scores five points.
The team or player that serves first also changes in each game. Generally, things are kept as even as possible. Neither player should have an advantage over the other
Part 2 of 3: Developing the skills
Step 1. Practice constantly
You can become a very good ping pong player quickly with constant practice. The most important things to practice initially are keeping your eyes on the ball, hitting it on time, and keeping the ball low.
- From the first time you lift a racket, you must make a conscious effort to follow the ball with your eyes, from the moment of the serve to when your racket hits, and so on.
- Your timing will improve with practice, you just need to get used to it, but it helps if you listen to the ball and watch it closely.
- Keeping the ball low, without hitting the net, is probably the most difficult skill for beginners to master. It is also one of the most essential, since a high ball can be easily finished off by your opponent. Try to keep your racket as horizontal as possible and use your wrist to impart energy to the ball and aim. Generally, the faster the ball moves, the easier it is to keep it low.
Step 2. Develop a strong forehand and backhand
You need to be able to hit the ball from either side of your body if you want to be good at table tennis, and changing hands is generally not practical, so get used to both the forehand and the backhand.
Step 3. Learn to spin the ball
You can do this by moving your wrist from side to side or up and down when hitting the ball. To counter it, give the ball your own spin. If you have a break, practice it against a wall, experimenting with what works for you.
Consider chopping the ball: giving it a backspin from the bottom as it comes towards you on its descent. This will spin the ball, slow it down, and send it on a new trajectory. Experiment with doing this with your forehand and backhand
Step 4. Finish off the balls that your opponent throws very high
Finishing the ball involves hitting it hard so that it goes fast enough that, hopefully, it cannot be returned. A spike is a powerful weapon, but it can be difficult to use accurately at first, and your spike may initially hit the net or off the other side of the table. But don't be afraid to keep trying. In the long run you will.
This looks like volleyball. Once you hit the ball, it is virtually impossible for your opponent to keep the ball in play. This will be one of your most used skills when working on it, and the most frustrating for your opponent
Step 5. Develop a killer serve
A quick or spin serve can become the key to winning the game as you face better players. If you give your opponent an easy serve, you will be lucky to have a racket to return. An easy serve gives him time to prepare to hit and throw a shot at you that you won't even see coming.
Speed is definitely important while leveling up, but you have to keep your aim and accuracy. As you get better and better, you will be able to predict where the ball will go and how it will behave with each hit
Step 6. Outsmart your opponent
As you face better competition, don't just expect your opponent to make mistakes, even if you're hitting the ball hard. You have to force him to make mistakes by taking control of the game and making your opponent move a lot across the table. If you can hit the ball to the right side and then quickly hit it to the left side you may be able to prevent your opponent from having the ball. Tricks, such as pretending to hit a shot and then hitting the ball lightly, or initiating a right-to-left pattern and then throwing two or three consecutive shots to the right, can also confuse your opponent into position for a shot.
Part 3 of 3: Taking it seriously
Step 1. Do it like the pros
Professional players generally stand a little further behind the table, and as you start to play at a faster level, you may find that it is good technique. The ball comes so fast and hard that standing further behind the table is the only way to keep up. And if your opponent prefers one side, you should also prefer the same side.
Besides posture, they also have different equipment. There is a wide variety of ping pong rackets available, and while the cheapest ones at your local sports discount store are fine for beginners, as you progress further you may want to have your own custom racket
Step 2. Choose your strategy
Once you have played a bit, you will automatically notice what your strengths and weaknesses are. So, you will choose a strategy that highlights your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. Here are four common styles of players:
- Controlling players. Just like the name says, they like to be in control all the time and therefore rarely take chances. They don't finish as often and they keep it traditional.
- Defensive players. This type of player tries to make his opponent make mistakes instead of concentrating on his own game.
- Offensive players. This player is generally quite aggressive, concentrating on spin and consistency. They can position the ball very well and clearly understand the spin.
- Power players. No kidding, power players rely primarily on speed to confuse their opponents.
Step 3. Know who you are playing with
While playing with your opponent, you will be able to know what kind of player he is. Generally he will prefer a certain type of shot and will always return to a base form of play. Here are some things to look for:
- The "counterdriver" hit is when there is solid contact with the ball (little effect) at the start of the bounce. You can better beat a player who prefers this with a shot in the middle of the table, where they will have to decide quickly between their forehand and backhand.
- The "chop" is when the bottom of the ball is cut during its descent. The amount of effect can vary. To combat it, work the center and above all, be patient. Alternating your shots will prevent them from getting comfortable.
- Blockers are defensive players. They don't like to attack, so force them. Vary between short and long shots, and change your style. Don't use all your power so they have to.
- The "loop" is a shot that begins in your legs with your shoulders slumped, ending in a blow that forces the ball slightly upwards and gives it effect. If you come across this player, be aggressive. Make them play defense, which is generally not their forte.
- Players who hold the racket in the pen position generally have very strong forehands and weaker backhands. However, knowing this, they usually have very good footwork. You will have to force a fairly wide backhand and keep it varied so that they do not know if they should continue to the edge of the table.
Step 4. Have a few varied tactics
Regardless of who you are playing with, it is advisable to have a few ideas brewing in your skull. The element of surprise is incredibly important in this game. Stick to that and victory will be yours.
- Make sure to vary your spin and your shots. Good players will be able to read you like a book and know exactly what you will do next. They can see how you like to hit the ball, where you like to hit it, and how you handle different situations. To avoid this, vary your style. Vary your spin, the height you give the ball, and the speed you use on your shots. Keep them prepared.
- Be able to place the ball outside of your opponent's "power zone". If you are facing an opponent with a European prey, his power zone is within reach of his right hand and close to the body on his backhand. Playing in the middle and wide (on purpose) can focus on your opponent's weaknesses. But don't trust this guide, look for weak spots yourself!
Step 5. Look for background
Ping-pong is taken very seriously in some circles. If you are looking for some inspiration, watch videos online: tutorials, tournaments or others. Maybe your next stop will be the Olympics!
- Ping-pong is a game that requires hours of practice. Search for clubs or leagues in your area, or find a group of interested friends who are looking to be competitive. Since this requires very little initial skill, it is usually not difficult to find people willing to play.
- If you take it seriously, you will do your best when you are energized and alert. Because of this, he always sleeps and eats well! You need all your senses to be 100%.
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- When hitting hard, hit in such a way that the trajectory of the ball goes diagonally. This will result in more distance, but you will still have enough force to land a decent hit.
- Did you know that sportsmanship is also required in this game? Don't forget to smile at your opponent, and apologize when you throw the ball out or serve too long. That's right, that counts.
- Putting the table against a wall can help you play alone. The wall will return the ball (hopefully a concrete one), giving your shot a bit more punch.
- Practice hitting from the table; you will scare your opponents.
- As much as possible, avoid playing in open spaces where the wind can change the course of the balls. This may be a bit annoying as the ball may not land where you expected. You may want to choose to play inside a gym or large room where the wind cannot ruin the game.
- Some recreational players alter the rules so that the serve must travel to the end of the table (rather than the side) to be legal. Another common ground rule is that if your serve lands twice on your opponent's side of the table, your opponent wins the point. These rule changes can be helpful in making serving less of a factor in the game so that you can practice more exchanging blows.
- Practice in front of the mirror and wave your hand.
- Make sure you have agreed on the rules with your opponent before playing an arcade game. Different people sometimes use different rules and if everything is clear before the game you can avoid arguments.
- Skilled players may not take you seriously if you call the game "ping-pong" instead of "table tennis."
- Hitting with a ping pong ball can be painful. They can leave bruises (keep this in mind especially when playing a brutal game of ping-pong).