In this article we’ve come up with 3 of the most common mistakes that players make which can hold back improvement and stop you maximizing your potential, so let’s get stuck into what they are:
1) Holding the bat too tight
This might not seem like a big deal and something that only happens when starting out in the sport but holding the bat too tight is something we see with even more experienced players and causes a number of problems which can limit your development and improvement. Firstly holding the bat too tightly means your hand, wrist and arm will become tense which makes it difficult to control and feel the ball on the bat, as well as making shots much less efficient and require a lot more energy.
Having a looser grip allows you to be more flexible in your arm and wrist to allow for those quick movements and changes of position, it also makes controlling the opponents spin and speed much easier as you are able to strike the ball with a softer touch and feel. Having a looser grip also makes generating our own spin much easier as brushing the ball becomes very difficult with a firm grip and the ball leaves the bat too quickly to impart any spin. The best way to reach the ideal grip is to imagine your holding a small bird in your hand, you need the grip to be soft enough to not squash the bird but just tight enough so it cannot fly away.
2) Hitting the ball too flat and fast
The understanding and use of spin in table tennis is something that players of all levels need to master. Quite often when coaching we see players going for out and out speed and hitting the ball very flat causing inconsistent and less controlled strokes. Especially when playing the first topspin in a rally or against a backspin ball it’s vital that you focus on the spin and control rather than speed. By using more rotation on your shots not only will you have a greater margin for error without sacrificing the quality but you will also be able to add variety to your game and make playing against you much more unpredictable and challenging- Using more spin on your shots often causes opponents more problems than simply speed alone.
3) Serving without a purpose
Serving in table tennis is the only time you have total control of the situation with plenty of time to decide and dictate exactly how the point will start. Yet many players aren’t serving with a purpose, by this we mean having a goal or desired outcome in mind with what you want to achieve with the serve rather than just starting the rally. Whether that be stopping the opponent playing the first attack, catching them by surprise with a long serve or getting a return in a position that suits you best. Of course you won’t always get the desired outcome, but going in with a calculated plan and really trying to serve with a purpose and a goal in mind will allow you to have a focus and a clear thought process in starting the point.