Table tennis is a type of sport that requires swift movements in order to make good strokes. For that matter, proper footwork exercises are very important in mastering the art of table tennis.
Following certain techniques and practicing proper footwork patterns can help ensure that your hands and feet move together in a rhythm and you do not miss out on any opportunity of making a good shot.
If you do not want to get enrolled in a paid program or do not have time for getting help from a professional coach, then Table Tennis University can be your go-to online resource for learning various table tennis techniques effortlessly.
Correct Posture for Table Tennis
A very preponderant step before following any footwork exercise is to get into the right posture as it helps in moving correctly during the entire game of table tennis.
For getting into the right posture you should:
Bend your knees and slightly lean forward. Your feet should be approximately one foot apart and tennis racket should be held firmly in your hand just above your waist. All of your body weight should be on your toes rather than heels or in the center of feet.
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Because exercising on a wrong racket would result in pain and it won’t move the needle.
Shadow Play Technique
In order to analyze or monitor your posture, you can also take help from Shadow Play or Shadow drill—as it requires performing exercise either in front of a mirror or you can also record yourself and play it back to see if you need any improvements.
What’s great about this drill is the fact that it does not require a partner for practice and can be done anywhere, even at home.
Let’s have a look at some of the best table tennis exercises to increase your footwork:
The two most basic footwork techniques in the game of table tennis include: In and out and Side to side footwork pattern.
In and out Footwork Pattern
This footwork technique is essentially very basic and generally used in order to return a short shot. During this, you need to move forward for playing the stroke and return to the start position.
Analyzing closely, you can observe positioning your right leg under the table in order to get a closer shot. After playing the shot you get back to your original positions.
If you are right-handed, it can be noticed that your left foot moves first then the right foot moves forward and goes under the table. After playing the stroke your right foot comes back out and the left foot comes back to its original position.
Practicing this drill over and over again can help you move forward and backward quickly after making a shot.
Now, moving onto the side to side footwork pattern:
Side to side Footwork Pattern
It is one of the most widely used footwork patterns in table tennis. This is generally used when you are close to the table and need to move fast.
While moving side to side you should make sure to move your outside foot first.
There are two major scenarios, where this footwork pattern can be used effectively. These include:
Moving Backhand to Forehand: If you are right-handed then, you should move your left foot first then right foot, then your left foot again followed by the right foot.
Moving Forehand to Backhand: you should move right foot first then your left foot then your right foot and then your left.
Here’s a quick video demonstrating side to side footwork pattern:
This is the type of footwork technique that allows moving fast from side to side. Most trainers suggest incorporating forward and backward movements in this drill.. It is also highly recommended by most trainers to play an imaginary stroke while moving as it helps practice the situation actually faced in the tennis match.
Shuffle steps are recommended for covering shorter distances as it allows maintaining better balance while playing.
Crossover footwork drill turns out perfect when you want to respond to a shot that is either too fast or wide—when you do not have sufficient time and want to cover a large area.
For this type of footwork technique, to move from the backhand side to the wide forehand side (for a right-hander), you move your left foot wide to the right, then using left foot as a pivot you move your right foot across as you play your shot.
Let’s have a look at this video for a better understanding of this footwork technique:
Serving Footwork is one of the most critical moves to practice. Serving Footwork entails making a small step forward and returning to the ready position, ready for shuffle stepping. If you become an expert in this move, you can make better shots which improve your performance.
This that drill looks like a jump. The player serves and then jumps into a ready position by rotating around the left leg. This is one of the very handy moves as it gives enough time to reach a shot on the far right side; unlike shuffle footwork technique i.e. ideal for covering shorter distance.
If you start practicing these footwork techniques, you can polish your tennis playing skills without taking help from a professional tennis coach. Moreover, consistent practice help in building muscle memory that can be used in different scenarios faced in various matches.
By following the basics and then moving onto the complex combinations can improve your footwork to a whole new level. Shadow training can come in handy during practicing as it helps correct any mistakes that might be neglected otherwise.
In addition to following the footwork drills; the key for perfecting tennis skills lies in paying focus to correct body postures i.e. staying crouched low and being light in the feet—although it can be difficult in the beginning but with practice, it can be achieved.
Moreover, improvement in footwork skills is directly related to the physical fitness of the player. For achieving record improvement it is important to exercise and train properly as it helps move faster, increases stamina and flexibility— as the game of table tennis is all about moving faster and reaching to the ball in time
Lastly, watching some training videos can also make a huge difference in following the techniques correctly in less time and can lead to a massive improvement in the quality of shots and your overall table tennis skills.