Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Sorin Petroj
Perhaps the most apparent benefit of table tennis drills is that they replicate aspects of games. The idea behind this is to train your body and mind to move, react, and make decisions within specific scenarios that you experience almost every day in the competition.
A single drill can focus on a single aspect or combine different aspects. In other words, the concept could be simple, but it still has value; or it could be quite advanced and quite complicated, with several areas to work on.
So, one thing we’ve already established is that table tennis drills are versatile, and this is at least part of the reason why drills are so crucial for table tennis training you can use them for so many things!
This means you can practice just about anything during your table tennis practice. Drills help you be a more consistent table tennis player in the competition. The more you practice training sessions with drills, the better timing, consistency, and accuracy you become.
The importance of table tennis drills
Table tennis is 90% mental, so having lots of repetition in your practices helps your game’s physical movement and mental aspects. Drills can make you a better player in multiple areas depending on the style of drill you practice.
Timo Boll is a three-time Olympic table tennis player from Germany. In this video, he teaches you how to play safer by using footwork and practice drills that will help keep your focus on the ball instead of getting caught up in competition adrenaline. He provides insight into the world of table tennis by explaining different strategies and techniques.
If that training has been correct and you have created good habits during your drill practice – such as having a wide stance for backhand returns and doing 5 consistent forehand topspin in a row – then you will play out those good habits in matches better than if you had practiced with incorrect technique.
10 Different training sessions with table tennis drills
I’ve developed a table tennis training session outlining several drills and how long to perform each drill. The training session is designed for those of you who can only sneak in an hour of training here and there. These are the best human-assisted and robot table tennis drills available.
I will discuss these table tennis drills in detail below:
1. Ten in a row
Mark out your target with a piece of tape on the floor. Use a ball that is easy for you to control (for example, no spin, short serve).
Start your service motion as usual but stop just before hitting the ball. Hit from this position and ensure that the ball goes over the tape. If it doesn’t, you have to try again from the beginning. Again, start from your service motion before hitting the ball.
You need to do this table tennis drill 10 times in a row without error to be considered one complete set of 10 hits. This process is an excellent way to build up your confidence under pressure and develop consistency in your service.
If you cannot get 10 in a row without missing, don’t get frustrated! Just keep doing this drill until you can do 10 in a row without error.
2. Target practice table tennis drills
This service practice drill is great fun to do with another player. You can also make this particular drill into a competition between the players. The goal is to knock the targets from the table consistently. The fewer serves it takes, the better.
Servers must be directed at all 4 corners of the table and hit each corner in order. You can start by putting 8 targets first and taking down all of them with 8 serves.
Keep repeating the process until you hit all 8 targets with 8 serves. After completing the goal, move to smaller targets and repeat the process.
3. Forehand or backhand topspin drill
This drill aims to practice correct stroke direction and train good footwork patterns. It is also essential to make quick changes between backhand and forehand strokes while maintaining your concentration on the ball.
As every tennis player knows, the backhand and forehand strokes are two of the most critical shots in tennis. This table tennis drill will help you get a feel for the ball, moving back and forth along with changing between shots. It will also help you get a feel for your racquet and use it properly.
This drill played against a wall is excellent for improving your control and technique. Aim to work on both decisions and tactics as you receive the ball. Focus on making a decisive first move and reacting quickly when the ball has passed you.
4. Two backhand and two forehand drive drill
Start moving around the square by making forehand groundstrokes between each cone. Secondly, keep your eye on the ball until you hit it. Once you have gone entirely around the square, move to the backhand side of the square and go around again using backhand strokes.
This drill will help you achieve consistency with your forehand or backhand topspin drive shots. If a ball rolls through the center of the stationary frame, your shot goes deep enough. Keep your non-playing arm extended at shoulder level and follow through with your racket in a straight line for every shot.
5. Shadow practice table tennis drills
The shadow practice drill is great because it helps you see the ball better, which will help you move your feet more quickly. You will also improve your footwork and hand-eye coordination.
You can do the drill by yourself or with someone else to make sure you hit balls quickly and correctly. The best way to practice this ping pong drill is to start at one side of the court and then jump to the other.
To develop speed and stamina, practice moving quickly from side to side. You can start in the middle of the court and run forward to reach a ball that can be hit down the line to your forehand. The ball should be hit so that you move forward, not back toward the middle of the court. Repeat to the other side.
If someone is available, have them hit a variety of shots at you, including balls just over the net and ones that are deep in your court for playing table tennis.
6. Controlled counter plays
Go back to basics and counter-attack with either push or chop returns with a soft touch, yet big fan swings. At first, this will be difficult, but soon you will develop a feel for these returns, and your accuracy will improve. As a bonus, these basic strokes will be well disguised and often very irritating to your attacker’s long-pip disciples. This is the basic skill from the beginning of table tennis history.
Not over-hitting is probably the most important thing you need to remember when playing long pips against topspin. Keep your returns low and slow because even if your return is moving faster, it will have backspin on it anyway and will not have a lot of speed.
When playing with long pips, the speed of your strokes will vary greatly depending on whether you are using an inverted or non-inverted rubber. You will be inside the table, looping, blocking, and smashing when playing with inverted. This rubber works well when combined with a tough sponge to increase speed and spin.
The harder sponge also acts as a cushion to absorb any incoming spin on the ball. So, the soft pips allow you to change the spin of your returns more quickly than if combined with a softer sponge because of the increased dwell time on the ball.
7. The Falkenberg Table Tennis Drills
Footwork is an excellent way of covering all table tennis court areas and using all strokes in every possible situation. In terms of scenario training, once you have practiced doing this from both corners of the table, it will be a familiar situation when you step out on the court for a match because you will have to deal with these situations lots of times during a game.
If we want to look at preparation for matches, this is also brilliant because it gets your mind looking for the next shot and how to get there.
The Falkenberg drill is a great way to practice opening and turning in your backhand corner. It’s not so common a situation but one that crops up fairly regularly. Playing table tennis this way may be a little harder but you will see results quickly.
The BH/FH, middle, BH/FH, comprehensive nature of the drill covers many possible angles and gives you lots of time to make the appropriate turning step. This method is advantageous if you have found yourself missing the ball while trying to move into position too quickly.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov – Best example of footwork drill training
The first is played when you are still facing the net, but when you rotate for the second, you change direction and hit it from an open stance position. In this exercise of footwork drill, repeated many times, you cover all parts of the table from any position.
8. The backhand, middle, backhand, wide drill
The start of the drill is quite simple. The feeder starts by pushing to you, and you return, but only in a very defined way with a straight bat angle. It would be best to hit either forehand or backhand each time, and the feeder can vary between wide forehands, wide backhands, or down the line.
From your side, you can alter whether you’re defending to the backhand or forehand corner of the table by how much clockwise movement you add to your return and then how much anti-clockwise rotation of your body you put into the shot.
This drill is excellent for developing and improving ball placement, accuracy, spin, and control. In this drill, the player must rally 50 forehand corner topspins, 50 forehand counter-topspins, and 50 forehand blocks.
This drill is challenging because a player is given the freedom to place their shot anywhere on the table, thus forcing them to develop precise ball placement skills.
9. The backspin return drill
The Backspin Return is used against a topspin attack but is also a great way to prevent your opponent from quickly reading your spin.
The secret to the Backspin Return is that you use only a slight forward motion on the arm and wrist when making contact with the ball, thus taking out almost all of the pace off the ball.
Since you are adding a forward acceleration to an already spinning ball, the ball will curve backward off your racket, causing it to travel back towards you in a curve. This technique works great with long pips without a sponge.
The key when executing this technique, it only takes slightly more than half-pace speed for contact with the ball due to its low trajectory and height above ground level (AGL).
You need to make sure there’s no hurry during execution. Also, not to give off hints about what side he’ll be facing once it leaves his racquet. It seems easy enough but can frequently prove difficult if one does happen upon success prematurely.
10. The pullback block drill
The pullback block drill is a tremendous counter-topspin technique to implement, especially when an opponent is attacking with very heavy topspin. By pulling your racket back slightly at the point of contact, you take almost all the pace out of the ball. This way, you will make it impossible for your opponent to continue an attack. This technique can create a concise return if executed correctly, perfect for keeping up your defense.
These are some of the best basic table tennis drills. If you are new to the game, you will find some of these drills quite useful as they will help you take your game to the next level faster.
But, there are table tennis drills for advanced players. So, if you are looking for a technique to get an advantage over their opponents. If you are an intermediate table tennis player looking to get into the professional leagues, these drills are perfect for you.
All you have to do is practice these drills from the backhand corner for at least 2 hours every day, and you will become a pro in no time.
Some table tennis tips from other players
- When playing, don’t be afraid to sacrifice a couple of points. Many players tend to serve short against loopers due to fear, allowing them to stay close to the table and anticipate the short serve. To keep your opponent guessing, occasionally serve fast down the line or to their backhand. Although you might lose a point, it will make your short serve more effective later on.
- During serve practice, devote time to training your serves to perfection. Focus intensely on one specific serve for around 30 minutes. Analyze each serve, identifying what you did right and what needs improvement. Study the serving techniques of top players in the world, observing their backswing, body movement, contact point, racket angle, follow-through, and ball positioning. Additionally, consider seeking guidance from a professional coach to refine your primary service.
- Whether you’re practicing in your basement, playing at a club, or competing in a tournament, visualization is crucial. Before serving, visualize your entire serve motion, including your stance, toss, contact point, the ball’s trajectory from your side to your opponent’s side, and the possible returns. Imagine common returns and prepare yourself for unexpected variations. Visualizing the serve and its potential outcomes enhances your focus and adaptability during the game.
By incorporating these table tennis tips, including utilizing topspin, backspin, and sidespin serves, practicing playing strategically, and emphasizing visualization, you can enhance your overall performance and improve your game.
Table Tennis Drills – Conclusion
These drills will help you improve your footwork, backhand, and forehand strokes. They also emphasize the importance of practice and how it can make perfect. With enough practice using these drills, you’ll be able to beat your opponents with ease.
They focus on the key areas of your game – forehand shot, backhand, and footwork. Be sure to practice them regularly so that you can see improvement in your skills.
- Which drill do you find most challenging?
- How are you going to incorporate it into your practice routine?
If you want to take your table tennis game up a notch, try implementing some of these drills into your practice routine. They’ll help improve your skills in all areas of the game. From your forehand shot and backhand strokes to your footwork. Keep practicing regularly, and you’ll be able to beat even the most challenging opponents. What drill are you going to start with first?
Let us know in the comments how they worked for you. And be sure to check out our other blog posts for more tips and tricks to help you dominate the ping-pong table.
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