Published on October 27, 2021 Last Updated on October 28, 2021 by Sorin Petroj
It is important to follow a basic table tennis warm-up routine not only to improve your game but also to prevent injuries and muscle strain during the match.
Generally, table tennis warm-up exercises last for five to ten minutes and end with another five minutes of stretches and freehand table warm-ups. During this period, you should perform light jogging, stretching, and flexible warm-up exercises.
Get sweaty! There’s no substitute for practice when it comes to honing reflexes and improving your coordination with a good warm-up. The goal of these table tennis warm-up tips is to get you on the court with advice from expert coaches, hit the first ball feeling all-set and ready. Also, you don’t have to lose any training time when warming up. Here, we are sharing seven tips for table tennis from coaches and pro players.
1. Set And Allocate Your Warm-Up Time
It would be best if you wanted to make sure that you feel ready and all-set up before hitting the court, and that is why it is essential to allocate a proper time for warm-up. It is important to understand how much time you should give yourself for a proper table tennis warm-up.
The general rule of thumb is to provide yourself with at least five minutes for performing basic warm-up exercises and cardio with two minutes of light jogging and three minutes of practicing table tennis movements and footwork.
The cool-down periods should last for five minutes, with stretching and flexibility exercises performed at the end of every workout. The warm-up exercises are usually done before stretching and practicing table warm-up movements.
Players worldwide use different types of warm-up routines, so it may become overwhelming to choose the right model. The good news is Mark Kovac from Tennis Congress has shared a standardized table tennis warm-up routine. Here’s the breakdown of the time you should allocate for a high-quality and complete table tennis warm-up.
Table Tennis Warm-up time a total of 15-20 minutes
- 2-3 Minutes Pre-Warm-Up Jogging: It is a good idea to start the warm-up routine by jogging twice around the court to raise your heart rate.
- 5 Minutes Warm-Up Exercise: You will need to spare five minutes for performing 15-30 jumping jacks and high knee run-ups to the net by running back and forth with short strides and by flicking your hip with heels as you run. If you have time left, it is a good idea to hone your reflexes with a couple of Carioca steps in each direction and by taking brisk walks across the court.
- 3 Minutes Table Movements And Footworks: The goal is to practice different movement patterns you will use on the court. You can start with shadow forehands and backend, which you can do with or without your racket.
- 5 Minutes Stretching: Table tennis warm-up stretches involve rotating shoulders and wrists forward and backward. Consider rotating you for 20-30 seconds forward and backward. Next, focus on your forearms and wrists. Many people wonder what types of hand stretches one can perform, and there are many different options. We have shared tips on mastering the table tennis warm-up stretches best recommended by coaches and players in the upcoming sections.
2. Master The Basic Table Tennis Warm-Up Exercises
Part of your warm-up before playing table tennis is to do some warm-up exercises. There are different types of table tennis warm-up exercises, but you must first understand the purpose of the warm-up exercises.
It is a good idea to start your warm-up routine with cardio exercises, as this is the fastest way to get your heart rate up. Here are some examples of table tennis warm-up exercises recommended by pro players and coaches:
- Jumping exercises: If you want to have good footwork, agility, balance, and coordination, there are ways for you to do so. One of the ways is to jump rope. It can be a bit tricky to find a good jump rope. My suggestions for a good jump rope would be to get one that’s made from steel, foam-coated handles, and measuring from 1/2 inch in diameter. You can substitute jumping ropes with jumping jacks. In that case, try doing two sets of 25 jumping jacks to help get your body ready for the movements you’ll need to perform in tennis while also raising your heart rate and building endurance. Doing 20-25 jumping jacks is an excellent way to stretch your arms when you wake up.
- Carioca: Carioca is an essential warm-up exercise that involves stepping over, across, and behind your right and left leg as you rotate your trunk and twist your arms when stepping. Carioca and single-leg with arms are stork exercises that you will often see demonstrated by rockstar performers during warm-ups. The goal is to challenge your balance and coordination when stepping with your legs along the trunk.
Liam Pitchford’s Table Tennis Warm-Up Routine
- Standing knee lifts: You can do these while standing in place. Tennis involves rigorous bodily movement and requires a lot of balance and coordination. Try doing three sets of knee lifts to tone your thighs. While you’re standing in place, try lifting your knees up to touch your arms.
- Glute exercises: Give yourself a quick workout by performing butt kicks for 15 to 20 seconds. The exercise will help you build up the muscles in your knees, glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings. Targeting your knees, glutes, quads, calf muscles, and hamstrings is important for jump training during warm-up. Also, you only need to do three sets of butt kicks to train your muscles and glutes.
- Mini-tennis Warm-Up: Mini-tennis warm-up is an excellent way to drill your groundstrokes and volleys without expending too much energy. You can practice a short functional tennis match with your friend or coach to get a feel and to warm up your joints. But this actually depends on the time you can allocate for completing the warm-up exercise session.
- Dynamic Jogging: Hone up your reflexes with two minutes shuttle run dash after the exercises with progressive arm circles. A couple of laps around the table tennis court will get your blood flowing. A quick way to do that is 20m shuttle runs, which are dashes back and forth across a line.
- Side Shuffle: You may also want to practice side-to-side shuffles. For a quick way to get the sweat going, take a few laps around the table tennis court and then do some shuttle runs, dashes, and shuffling side-to-side.
3. Master The Warm-Up Stretches
If you want to level up your table tennis game and become a pro, you should try to discover what stretches and warm-up routines top players use. There are four types of basic stretches that you can include in your warm-up routine: straight leg march, hand walks, standing truck rotation, and lateral lunges.
Generally, players choose any of the stretches and perform two sets of 10 reps. Research shows dynamic stretches are the most effective ones. Dynamic stretches involve stretching with movements without intervals, while static stretches are where you hold a stretch for a prolonged period.
Do not rush into complex stretches, but dedicate yourself to simple exercises and make progressive advancements. You can first focus on improved movements. Being more flexible will make improved movements easier. Start with these stretches to improve your flexibility and maintain good health.
4. Master Your Strokes And Drills
You don’t want to forget your basic strokes and tactics. It is important to practice table tennis movement warm-ups, just as it’s important to do the stretches and exercises when warming up. Take some time and drill with a partner to help improve your strokes.
Players generally dedicate at least 4-5 minutes to master their strokes. Push off on the table to bounce the ball at different angles to improve your reaction time. Do the same to practice your spin shots.
Do shadow-play exercises, where you pretend you are playing against an opponent, to practice your techniques. Remember to use your cross-court, down the line, and serve tactics.
5. Maintain Your Balance And Posture
You must work on your postures and keep your balance. For most players, it is obvious that the stability on one leg should be a big priority when training and during warming-up. So, when you are doing warm-ups, you should do a lot of single leg work for self-assessment and ensure that you are stable on both sides.
If you are struggling with your posture, pick a spot in front of you and focus with your eyes. Look at your spot from time to time, as this will help you with your balance. Another thing you can do to maintain a proper balance is to keep your toes pointed to the sky.
You will need certain muscles in your lower limb for good posture, so the goal should be to generate more force into the ground when warming up. Also, consider keeping your back straight and butt tight as far as possible when performing hamstring sweeps or butt kicks during the warm-up.
Be sure to practice your neutral positions so you can serve and receive well. For a neutral serve, rally a ball cross-court. Set up a base near the centerline and take a balanced stance with your racket hand just behind you. If you come to the net, follow up with both your forehand and backhand volleys, and do this for every ball you hit.
6. Go Over Every Possible Shot
There’s no time for a sudden change in your playing style, so be sure to spend some time experimenting with shots before the start of the match.
In the following video, see how world-class players such as Ma Long and Fan Zhendong warm up. First, forehand drive, then forehand spins. Then, backhand drives and backhand spins. It is a short warm-up before the start of the match. It is also important to feel how your opponent is warming up before the start.
7. Keep An Eye Out On How Your Opponent Hits The Ball
Players usually practice what they do best, and during the warm-up, you can get a competitive edge by observing them. Watching your opponent warm-up can give you some information about their game style. This is one of the most underrated table tennis warm-up tips that no one talks about but can give you a competitive edge during the match.
Watch your opponent’s practices during the warm-up. Look for clues into the timing and direction of their toss during warm-ups. Get a feel for when they plan to hit and in which direction they are aiming the serve. The way the server tosses and hits the ball might provide you clue for how they want the ball to bounce. If you watch their toss and motion, that could give you a clue as to how they want the ball bounced after it.
So, as you see, it takes no more than 12-15 minutes to complete a proper dynamic table tennis warm-up. The tips and the warm-up routine are used by many rockstar players and are also recommended by expert couches worldwide.
While the above are the seven essential tips for table tennis warm-up, you must consider yet another point before starting your match. Taking mental preparation and following a pre-warm-up strategy is vital for both amateurs and big venue players.
Pre Table Tennis Warm Up Tips to Consider:
One essential point you must note is to wear a proper suit and appropriate table tennis shoes to prevent falls. From the nutrition standpoint, make sure you have got the snacks with you on the court and take water breaks as often as you need.
Next, you must take mental preparation. The first step of your mental preparation is to identify what you’re going to do in each position. It would be best if you prepared for each possibility and then rehearsed the appropriate tactics.
Consider watching full warm-up demonstrations by table tennis players to get a basic idea. The objective is to get little bits of information and take notes from expert coaches and players.
Keep in mind that you are doing this primarily for your health. Beware of injuries because even though people think you can’t get injured in table tennis, it’s still possible, especially when you reach a certain level where you move more and have stronger punches.
Make it a routine for you before every training session or match. These are the most important suggestions on how to achieve a proper warm-up. Try your way, but don’t skip it.
This way, you will always be ready for matches. In addition, you will feel better after each workout. It is not the same to leave the racket and go home or do a good stretch before leaving.