The Importance of Variation in Learning Table Tennis

There is no one way to learn the skills needed to be a great table tennis player. Everyone is different in their size, shape and the way they learn. Recognising this and turning this fact to your advantage can give you a massive boost to your training.

Although repetition and consistency in your training are essential to improvement, it is possible to develop robust, adaptable shots by including more variation into your training. In fact, the research behind learning new skills including fine motor skills such as table tennis shots shows that providing yourself with a larger range of variants during the learning process not only creates a more robust skill but keeps you more engaged in the practice. Your brain learns best when it is presented with new challenges. So, rather than mindlessly repeating the same boring drills, mix it up a bit.

Some ways to add variation into your training are:

  • Playing from different positions on the table

By mixing up your timing from early (near the bounce) to late (after the top of the bounce) you will get a broader range of variation within the same shot.

  • Changing the spin and speed

Another way of including a greater range of variation when focusing on one shot is to change the spin and speed of the ball that is coming towards you.

  • Change where you are aiming

Don’t just play to the same place every time. Playing to different places on the table is a subtle way of adding a bit of variation to your shots.

Keeping the brain stimulated and engaged through variation, keeps you motivated and gives you the bonus of little victories as you try new things. Not only that, if you have hit a plateau, including variation in your training can have a huge impact on your improvement. Do this and training will be less boring and you will create more adaptable shots that are less likely to breakdown when challenged in a match.


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