How to Watch a Professional Table Tennis Player, by Samson Dubina

What are you looking at?
By Samson Dubina

If you look at what he is wearing or not wearing, you are focusing on the wrong thing...

If you look at what he is wearing or not wearing, you are focusing on the wrong thing…

When watching a professional player, what you are looking at? Are you looking at the bright color of his shoes, the weird design on his shirt, his massive leg muscles, or the funny expression that he makes when serving? If so, you aren’t studying the right things.

When watching a professional player, there are several things that you should be looking at…

#1 Preparation
Watch how he goes through his pre-point routine before stepping up to the table.

#2 Serve and receive
Watch how he stands to receive serve – his distance from the table, his racket position, his racket height, his foot positioning, his balance. Watch when he serves – his positioning, his backswing, his contact point, his follow through, and his return to the ready position.

#3 Footwork
Watch how he moves for each ball, watch how he anticipates for the next ball, watch how he continues to adjust and re-adjust for each ball with large leaps as well as micro steps.

#4 Shot Selection
Watch how he chooses when to loop, when to block, when to counter-loop, when to stay close, when to back up – watch his shot selection.

#5 Time Between Points
Watch how he takes his time between points. Watch as he walks back to pick up the ball how his body language is showing his thoughtfulness as he mentally gears up for the next point.

Instead of trying to watch all of these elements at once… I would recommend watching a short youtube video 5 times. Each time, watch a different aspect of the game as outlined above. By training yourself to watch each aspect separately, you will better be able to learn the details of the sport.