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Table Tennis Tips : Training and Fitness

Training Schedule

Establishing a weekly schedule for your table tennis training and physical conditioning can help you stick with a routine and help optimize your time. Here we assume that you are not a professional table tennis player but instead have full-time employment or studies, thus limiting the amount of time you can devote to training. However it is assumed you are trying to improve your game, and therefore should probably practice table tennis 2-4 times per week, for at least 2 hours at a time.

The below sample schedules are actual weekly schedules used by various players. Don't confuse this with the longer-term schedules known as Cycle or Macro training, discussed in the Competition Section.

A US National Team Member A Chinese Training Camp Texas Wesleyan Univ. Team Webmaster
TT 5 days/wk (2.5 hrs)
Weights 3 days/wk
TT 11 sessions/wk
Push-ups, sit-ups, jump rope
TT 6 sessions/wk
Weights 2/wk
Aerobics 1/wk
TT 2 days/wk
Weights 2 days/wk
Bike, Run 2 days/wk

TT = table tennis training
wk = week

I recommend you maintain a monthly or weekly log of your training. This helps to focus your training tremendously to maximize the benefits and also allows you to refer to past training sessions and results. Also, whenever you think of great play combinations, write them down. I guarantee you will not remember all those plays you invented at one time or another if you don't write them down.

The training log should be modified to suite your needs, but should include information such as:

  • Training schedule
  • Which areas to currently focus on
  • Drills to practice
  • Long-term areas to improve
  • Play combinations or specific shots to solidify and use in competitions
Drills and MultiBall

Drills

Legend
Legend: Player 1 in red, Player 2 in yellow
  • Player 1
  • Player 2
The X drill
Graphic of the X drill

The X drill is great for improving footwork and placement and is also very simple. Player 1 hits a cross-court forehand shot to player 2's forehand. P2 then hits down the line, to P1's backhand. P1 hits all shots crosscourt, while P2 hits all balls down the line. Begin slowly with good control, then increase the pace.

  The V drill
Graphic of the V drill

This drill is very simple and great for footwork and placement (and we can all use some improvement in those areas, right!?) Player 1 hits a cross-court forehand shot to player 2's forehand. P2 then hits down the line to P1's backhand. P1 then returns down the line, to P2's backhand, who then hits cross-court again.

 

Multi-Ball

Multi-ball is a style of training which helps improve several very important areas, including the short game, service return, and overall speed and control.

So, how do you practice multi-ball? First, get a bucket of about 100 or so balls. A shoe box works excellent. Have a partner place the box of balls on the table and feed you topspin and underspin balls to various locations, in accordance to the drill you are practicing. When feeding, first bounce the ball on your side of the table.

In different sessions, alternatively focus on placement, power and speed. For placement, try to hit a designated place on the table such as the white lines. In the speed drill, the feeder should push the player just beyond their level of comfort by feeding balls to them more frequently than they are used to.

Because multi-ball is physically strenuous and the focus is on precision, generally don't do the drill longer than 2 minutes, probably closer to 1 minute is best.

Do you have a favorite drill? If so tell us about it.

Robots as Multi-Ball Partners
It can be difficult to find a partner willing to spend time performing multi-ball training. Thankfully, robots are excellent multi-ball partners; this is really their forte. I have the Butterfly Amicus 3000 robot and here I will in the future describe some of the robot drills I find beneficial.

Physical Conditioning

Obviously, being in good physical shape is important to play at your best level, and can be the difference between two players with the same technical ability. Moreover, I see many players' form and footwork degrade after several matches on a tournament day, causing them to make mistakes they normally don't make. Better conditioning would help these players maintain the footwork required to play their best.

Fitness equipment: jumprope, a mat, and dumbells

Simple equipment goes a long way, which this sample shows.

So, how do you train for table tennis? First you should improve your stamina, or aerobic conditioning. Bicycling, swimming, and cross country skiing, for example, are all great methods of aerobic exercise. Jump rope has an additional benefit, beyond building stamina, to some degree it also simulates the footwork needed and works the muscles needed for quick movement in table tennis.

Besides improving your stamina, you should also train those muscles used in table tennis. Exercising all muscles is important for overall health, but for table tennis I especially recommend exercises that focus on the legs and abdominals.

Stretching

Maintaining good flexibility is important not only to reduce injuries, but the movements and footwork of the sport also demand great flexibility. Therefore, try to warm-up and cool-down properly when training. I know we are all pressed for time and find it difficult to find time to warm up and stretch, but it is very important and will help many players actually improve their game.

With limited time, at least try to do a few minutes of active warm-up, such as jumping, jogging, etc. Follow this by stretching areas such as the neck, shoulders, back, and legs. Also rotate the shoulders, back, and ankles to increase the ease of movement of these body parts. After training, stretch as many muscles as you can, especially the legs. When stretching, don't jerk, but hold each stretch steadily for 20-30 seconds.