Thursday 17 July 2014

What Helps Table Tennis Skills Off the Table?

It's been a little while since I had any questions but this was asked by a friend of mine, what can help improve table tennis skills off the table? Not many players outside the international stage take as much time to develop off the table as they perhaps should and of course there are players out there who don't have as much access to table tennis facilities and so hopefully a few tips here may help. See more from my Coaching Blog.

William Henzell is a player who is no stranger to the international stage and also no stranger to the importance of physical training. In his buildup to the 2012 Olympic Games, William worked intensely off the table in his physical sessions. See the video below of his training session.

Henzell who has had his share of wins and close matches against top 50 ranked players in the world rates squats and lunges among the core of important exercises and also emphasises shadow play as a strong option especially for players who don't have as much access to a table.

William is also a strong mental player and you can find mental and concentration exercises on his website and blog at Using the promotional code MHTT you can get access to 3 videos free when you sign up (basic signup is free!).

Developing Table Tennis Skills Off the Table
Liam Pitchford, England's number 1 player also puts his off table focus on physical training, noting running and squats as two key exercises of importance. Building stamina and leg strength are two big areas to build in order to perform and focus well through long match days and also to build explosive power and good weight transfer, balance and footwork.

Shadow Play is often a type of practice which most people would scoff at, but the benefits are proven. Building correct technique and muscle memory over many repetitions of the right stroke will help build technical consistency. You can also further your shadow play into shadow drills. Remember being off the table doesn't mean you can't do proper exercises. Shadow footwork drills are great for building explosive movements and also fast reactive footwork speed, also combining correct footwork with strokes.

Of course there are exercises to help with your general sports skills, some more specific to table tennis. You can work on your hand eye coordination, anticipation and reaction speed. Chinese players in the national team can be seen with a coach throwing balls to the left and right of them while they react and try to kick the balls. This not only helps with their balance and ability to move with a low centre of gravity, but also helps their reaction timing and focus.

It's also noteworthy to mention that playing other sports can also help with your table tennis development as a lot of mental and physical principles are interchangeable between sports. Learning to be an athlete and develop athletic habits are crucial to succeeding in any sport, table tennis included. Playing other sports, and even mind-based strategy games like Chess or Chinese Checkers can help you expand your thought process.

The important thing about competing in other sports and activities is evaluating what skills you learn of value and how you can implement them into your table tennis development.

Of course there is a limited amount of development you can do off the table and nothing will top your on-table practice, but why not use all the time you have available to keep learning and improving your abilities. These are just a few examples but with some larger ideas of what to develop. Hopefully it helps those of you who need it! :)


  1. I find myself doing footwork practice in every thing I do from quickstepping out of the way of people who aren't paying attention in the supermarket to doing side to siders in the kitchen and the station record library. I try not to cross my feet ever to make my footwork better on court. Always room for improvement there.

  2. I recommend doing balancing acts to improve your impulse against Ball

  3. I recommend doing balancing acts to improve your impulse against Ball


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.