Want to improve your table tennis skills? Here's 10 tips to help you put some zip in your game.

Footwear for table tennis

If your shoes haven’t got enough grip for the surface, then you will be slipping all over the place, but too much grip and you can’t slide across the floor when you need to, meaning you have to physically lift your feet up every time you want to move. Some table tennis players have two pairs of shoes, one with lots of grip, and one less grippy.

Gripping the bat

There are several ways to grip the table tennis bat, the most common being the ‘shake hands’ grip and the ‘Pen grip’. The method you choose should be the one that you find is most comfortable, while still allowing you the capacity to play the full range of shots.

Take a towel

Over the course of a game of table tennis you will sweat, making it more difficult to grip the bat and increasing the likelihood of slipping on the floor. Use a towel to mop up as this will help avoid any unnecessary slips, or loss of grip.

Try a larger ball

Recent changes to international rules have seen the size of table tennis balls increased from 38mm (1.5in) to 40mm (1.57in) in an effort to slow the game. You may think the size difference is minimal, but it does make a difference.

Work on your backhand shot

Most people are naturally more comfortable hitting a forehand shot, so it is important to work on your backhand. Backhand shots are an important part of the game as there is often little time to get around the table to make a forehand shot. The best players are always able to attack almost equally well on both hands, so it is best to be proficient on both sides.

Keep your cool

When you are on a losing run of points, then don’t get steamed up about what has gone before. It is better to try and work out why you are losing and try a different approach or tactic. Keep your focus on the point you are playing and don’t waste precious mental energy mulling things over.

Hitting the right part of the bat

The best area to hit the table tennis ball is with the centre of the paddle or blade of the bat — the sweet spot. The ball does not bounce off of the bat anywhere near as a well when it is hit with the outside edges. Like most racket sport, table tennis players aim to hit the ball with the sweet spot of the racket. Higher quality bats will have larger sweet spots.

Good footwork

To really improve your table tennis skills you need to think about moving your feet. Watching many table tennis novices, the lack of footwork is apparent as they stand on the spot and try to reach every shot just by bending and stretching their arms. Staying still can really put you off balance, whereas a table tennis player on their toes ready to move to the next shot is far more likely to strike a winning shot.

Mix up tactics

It is best to mix up the range of your shots otherwise you will become a predictable opponent. Starting with the serve, use different lengths and varying degrees of spin. The same applies to returns; don’t just keep lobbing back an easy return for your opponent to put away. Try and work out what table tennis shots they appear uncomfortable dealing with.

Get in shape for table tennis

Being in good physical shape can be the difference between two players with the same technical ability. Physical tiredness in a game can lead to lazy footwork, and produce mistakes that wouldn’t normally be made. One good method of improving fitness for table tennis is skipping — it not only builds stamina, but also simulates the footwork needed and works the muscles required for quick movement round the table tennis court.