A key element of becoming a great table tennis player is being able to control the ball and make it do exactly what you want it to. During a game this can be tricky due to high levels of spin and speed. In this article we will show you some ways that you can practice your ball manipulation skills on your own so that you can be in control at all times.
For beginner’s, basic ball bouncing skills are a good way of developing control and touch. Judging the amount of power needed to keep the ball under control and the subtle changes of direction in the ball require a basic level of feeling for the ball. Using your normal playing grip. Try bouncing the ball on the forehand and backhand sides individually. Once you have mastered that, switch between them to increase the difficulty. When this becomes too easy, try adding a bounce on the edge of the bat. If you can master this then try having some fun by bouncing the ball off the bottom of the handle as seen in this World Record attempt by the Hand-Eye Guy.
To develop some spin generating skills try bouncing the ball whilst adding a little bit of spin. Switch between the forehand and backhand to work against the spin controlling the bounce straight up without the ball jumping off your bat. This is a great way to develop an understanding of how to generate and control spin which can translate directly in to your match play, particularly when controlling balls close to the net.
Another bat skill you can try to develop an expert level of touch is balancing the ball on the racket. Doing this on one side of the bat is one of the easiest skills that many children learn when starting their table tennis journey. However, what is trickier is balancing the ball on one side and then turning the bat so that the ball moves to the other side with little to no bounces. This is a great display of ball mastery and not only can develop your control and touch for the ball but also makes a great party trick.
One final skill to try is to throw the ball up and catch it on your bat without the ball bouncing. This is similar to the previous skill developing touch and control for the ball. To add another dimension to this, try hitting the ball up with some spin then catching with as few bounces possible. This is an extremely advanced skill and requires an expert level of touch. Watch Chinese legends Ma Long and Xu Xin attempt the skill below.
Take these skills, that can be practiced anywhere, and see your control, touch and feeling improve. Have fun with it and be creative and come up with new skills to improve even further. Let us know what you come up with so that we can have a go as well.
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