Achieving Consistency at Table Tennis

Paul Butters By Paul Butters, 16th Jun 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Sports>Sports

At any level of table tennis or ping pong, consistency is something we all seek. A holistic approach is required to achieve this. Better footwork, safer shots, practice, the countering game: there are many factors involved. Buying the right bat, practising often, fitness, concentration: everything matters. All for better health.

Table Tennis is more than just a game of soccer

Whenever I see a footballer slice or balloon the ball over the bar, I squirm. Even more so, when the player nearly falls over in the attempt. In Table Tennis (or Ping Pong) every miss loses you a precious point. Indeed each miss presents a point to your opponent. Of course, there has to be a balance between making sure you “keep the ball on the table” and attacking with penetration. Every table tennis or ping pong player seeks the holy grail of consistency. From point to point, game to game, and, very importantly match to match, we all seek the same thing. Here are some tips.

Play round the ball and avoid slicing

When playing a topspin drive, it is recommended that you “get outside” the ball as a matter of habit. This is a bit like a “hook” shot in golf. Only slice when it is an easy ball, for extra venom. When pushing with the backhand, make sure you get right behind the ball, to avoid slicing. Keep in control of that ball, like a spider with its prey. To really make sure, push as much as you can, keeping the ball low over the net and table. Aim for a point just above the net.

Play the countering game for consistency

Shot selection is very important for consistency. I strongly recommend “The Countering Game”, especially for beginners. Simply: if your opponent pushes or chops, push or block\push your return, with your bat laid back. If your opponent hits or topspin drives (or loops), get your bat over the ball and block, counter-hit or counter-drive. This can be very, very consistent. Being a counter-hitter myself I can vouch for that. However, it is very difficult to loop the loop: better block those fast ones from your opponent. If you cannot block those high loops, then all you can do is try to kill them. Overall, however, countering is about automatically meeting like with like: push with push, hit with hit, drive with drive.

Of course, the one big limitation with countering is that it only works up to a point. Out-pushing a specialist defender is not easy. Nor is out-hitting a good hitter. So there comes a time when you have to vary your game. Against a defender you have to loop, and sometimes against an attacker you must chop or even lob. Consistency is not always enough to win the game. Especially against a defender. Yet consistency provides you with that platform from which you can go on and win.

Good footwork for consistency

Talking of platforms: you need a platform for every shot. You need to be in the optimum position for each stroke. Avoid having to stretch, lean, jump and so on. This can only be achieved with good footwork: lots of little shuffle side-steps etc. Footwork like this can be practised at home even. Practise those shuffling movements.

Sheer practice for consistent achievement, and a decent bat

It’s amazing how players get annoyed at losing, forgetting the simple fact that their opponent has practiced lots more. Play every day if you can. Make those shots almost automatic.

Build the habit of consistency

Make sure you have the right bat too. I use mid-speed Butterfly Sriver L (for loop) mainly (on an all-round blade). Faster rubbers and blades can make you miss the end of the table. Slower rubbers might stifle your attack. Get a bat to suit your style and beware being too ambitious with long pimples, carbon-fibre blades, fast rubbers etc. (make sure you are ready for such specialist equipment before you buy). Try out the bats of friends to make sure.

Achieving consistency in table tennis requires a holistic approach. Practice, footwork, “safe” stroke techniques, getting coached, fitness, concentration, your bat: everything counts.

Paul Butters

(Original Version posted on Suite 101 in January 2011)


Achievement, Bats, Consistency, Countering Game, Equipment, Footwork, Holistic Approach, Ping Pong, Table Tennis

Meet the author

author avatar Paul Butters
I am a Writer. Freelance in that I am not employed any more, being retired. I can write more than ever now. Academically I have a B.Ed. Honours Degree in English Literature from Leeds (Huddersfield) University. Taught Secondary (13-18) English in the...(more)

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