How Children Benefit from Playing Table Tennis

Fiona-Samson TT Pictures 068

Kids love table tennis. Even starting as young as five years old, kids love the excitement. Unfortunately, many parents don’t see the real benefits table tennis has to offer. I hear many coaches trying to convince parents to have their kids take lessons because the kids can travel or get a college scholarship. These things sound good, but what table tennis does best is develop character. Here’s how.

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Coaching Tip: Balance Throughout the Stroke

You should be able to smash or loop at near full power without going off balance. Top players can play great shots in rapid succession because they are always balanced, which leads to a rapid recover for the next shot. When you go off balance, even slightly, you cannot recover quickly for the next shot. There are two times when players tend to go off balance: either when moving to the ball or when following through.

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Coaching Tip: Distance from Table

How close should you stand to the table? Much of this depends on your playing style. Most new players tend to stand too close to the table. This leads to all sorts of problems if not fixed early on. A player who develops his game while standing too close is often jammed, which leads to short, jerky strokes that are rushed. Players like this may learn to block well, but the shorter, rushed strokes lead to a loss of both power and (when trying to hit harder) control. They also tend to stand in a backhand position, leading to a weak forehand. They also have trouble covering the wide forehand as they are unable to use the full forehand “pocket” since they are jammed at the table – instead, they can only hit the ball in the front of the hitting zone, rather than turn sideways and hit the ball at the top of the bounce with a more comfortable shot that uses the full forehand hitting zone.

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Coaching Tip: Body Movement During the Forehand Loop

Daniel from West Virginia emailed me the following question: “One of the things that I am struggling to understand is the relationship between rotation versus right-to-left leg weight transfer when looping. I saw in one of your earlier blog entries that you compare forehand looping with “rotating around a pole” that runs from the ceiling down to the floor. I’ve watched this video of Wang Liqin over and over and he seems to be generating most of his power with rotation rather than right-to-left leg weight transfer. Both of his feet stay pretty much rooted in the ground at all times during the stroke:”

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Coaching Tip: The Backhand Loop and Hit One-Two Punch

In a game dominated by forehand looping, many players forget there’s another side and other point-winning shots. One of the best is the backhand loop followed by a backhand hit – a devastatingly effective one-two punch. It doesn’t even have to be a backhand smash – quick, well-placed aggressive drive will usually win the point or set up an easy follow.

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Coaching Tip: Serving Short to Forehand and Long to Backhand

Want to twist your opponent into a pretzel? You can do so with one of the most common serving combos in table tennis: short serves to the forehand and long, breaking serves to the backhand.

Short serves to the forehand are usually more awkward to handle than short ones to the backhand. This is because the wrist is freer on the backhand side to adjust the racket angle, and also because contact is made in front of you, right in front of your eyes, instead of to the side with a forehand receive. Long serves to the backhand are usually trickier to handle than long ones to the forehand. This is because most players loop better on the forehand side, and because you have a bigger hitting zone on that side than on the backhand side, where a breaking serve can be awkward to handle.

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