For some, ping pong is a fun pastime to light-heartedly challenge friends at. For others, ping pong is a skill to be honed for competition level matches. No matter which side you fall on, you want to bring your best to the table.
Ping pong can be an art form and there are quite a few factors that can be used to make you a better player. Here, we will take a look at what you need to know to be the best ping pong player you can be.
Start with a strong pose
The first thing you need to do when playing ping pong is to have a strong stance. First, find a ready position you are comfortable with and when you move, do so on the balls of your feet. This allows you to move quickly and return to center on each move with no delay. This is a trick that is often used by professional fighters use as well to allow them to act as needed.
Choose the right racket
Many inexperienced ping pong players will play with whatever racket is handy. After all, one racket is the same as another, right? Well, no.
Having your own racket allows you to be familiar with the equipment you are using and it gives you the chance to choose a racket that works well for you. As you try out different rackets, you’ll notice that some feel more comfortable in your hand than others and that each one has unique characteristics as you play.
By choosing and using your own racket, one that you’re comfortable with, you are taking out the variable of learning how to use your equipment in the middle of a competition. Instead, you get the chance to walk in with something you know how to play with.
It’s also important to treat your racket like it matters because it does. Wash the inverted sponge rubber side with racket cleaner or soap and water and keep it in a safe case when you aren’t using it.
When you hit a ping pong ball straight on, the ball will go straight. However, even if you hit the ball straight on, it’s easy for your opponent to see where the ball is going to go. So, it’s worth knowing how to spin a ball. You should also be able to recognize these moves when your opponent makes them so that you can anticipate the result.
If the racket moves from low to high, the ball will have a topspin. Oppositely, if the racket is swung high to low, the ball will have a backspin. From their left to right; right sidespin, and a movement from their right to left; left sidespin.
Know how to react to spin
When these spins happen, it’s important to know how to react to them. The last thing you want to do is to hit the ball only to knock it out of bounds and grant your opponent a point.
If you see a topspin coming towards you, angle your racket downward and strike the ball above its center. When the ball comes toward you with a backspin, do the opposite and strike upward below the ball’s center.
When it comes to a right sidespin, angle your racket to the right and hit the ball to the left of the mid-line. For a left sidespin, angle the racket to the right and crack the ball on the right of the mid-line.
Work on your serve
There isn’t a single right way to serve a ping pong ball. It is important to know how you like to serve and how to successfully serve a ball. A great ping pong player doesn’t give their opponent a point because of a faulty serve.
Don’t be afraid to play with different factors of your serve and have a few different styles ready. Try different spins and different heights. If you only have one serve, even if it’s good enough to get past your opponent the first time, by the latter half of the match they’ll know what to expect when it’s your turn to serve.
Practice, practice, practice
Knowing how the ball moves and knowing how to react to it is great. However, if you have to think about how to move and react each time your opponent hits a ball, you’re going to lose because you didn’t put that knowledge into action fast enough.
The best thing you can do is to practice everything you can. Practice your serves until they’re near perfect and practice your strokes until they’re second nature. Ping pong has a strategy side but unlike a game like chess, you don’t have time to think about it. You have to react to your opponent in a split second and muscle memory goes a long way on that front.
The best way to practice is with other people. Having a main partner is a great start but don’t be afraid to switch things up and practice with new opponents so you can experience different styles of play as well.
Keep your cool
When a competition starts, it’s easy to get lost in the heat of the match. Frustration at a losing round can lead to desperate and not so well thought out measures. Cockiness at a big lead can make you sloppy and lose you your score.
During a competition, try to keep an even temperament. No matter if you’re winning or losing, play the same. If you play a calculated game from beginning to end, you are more likely to find success than if you play on emotions.