To become a great ping pong player, you’d ideally want to practice with a friend or a coach regularly. However, that isn’t always possible and sometimes you have to learn on your own. So, one thing on your mind now is – “how to practice ping pong by yourself”. Believe it or not, you can be your own ping pong coach and this article aims to show you how.
Ping pong, also known as table tennis, is a pretty simple game but it can be difficult for beginners to get a hang of it. This is the place to be if you’re looking for tips to help you hone your skills and become a better table tennis player.
Below are effective methods that you can use to practice table tennis:
1. Use A Ping Pong Robot Or Ball Machine
2. Fold The Ping Pong Table
If you can’t afford a table tennis robot, there’s another great alternative that won’t cost a dime. You can play against your table by folding it. Some ping pong tables are foldable and you can bend one corner over to set it to playback mode. Setting your foldable table to this playback mode allows you to practice serving, strokes and rhythm without a sparring partner.
3. Hit Balls Against A Wall Or Backboard
Similarly to using a folded ping pong table, you can practice table tennis by hitting balls against a board. All you have to do is take a table tennis return board and place it behind the table and it will return your strokes to you when you hit the board.
If you don’t have a backboard and are looking to practice ping pong solo, you can use a wall. Move your ping pong table to the wall, ensuring that one end is just in front of the wall. That way, the wall returns your shots when shooting balls against it.
4. Practice Shadow Play
You can practice shadow play to improve your game, especially if you have nobody to practice with. It is a great way of practicing to improve your strokes, balance and agility. The best part is you don’t even need a table tennis ball to practice.
In shadow play, you simply play as you would during a real table tennis game, swinging your paddle; however, you don’t use the ball. This practice is good for table tennis skills development as it focuses on improving your overall technique and footwork by training your muscle memory.
Find the best table tennis paddles here.
5. Practice Serving And Bouncing On Your Own
Knowing how to serve well is one of the essential skills in table tennis and you can improve your overall ping pong skills by improving your serves. Thankfully, serving is one of the few things that you don’t need a partner to practice with. You can practice your serves and bounces on your own and your skills will improve. Short service is one of the most important techniques to learn as it prevents your opponent from gaining an advantage over you.
6. Use A Net
Using a net can greatly help when you practice table tennis alone. A net comes in handy when you don’t have a table tennis robot to shoot balls at you. It reduces the number of table tennis balls you have to pick up, allowing you to spend more time on the drill itself. Nets come in handy for any of the following types of training:
- Multi-ball training
- Robot training
- Service training
7. Use Ping Pong Cones
You can use ping pong cones anytime you want to practice table tennis alone. This is yet another method to improve your service. With ping pong cones, you don’t need to play with anyone to practice your serves. All you have to do is mark the points you want to hit the balls on the cones.
Specify hit areas for the target to increase the difficulty of the task. Aim for the deep corner, down the middle and down the line of your opponent’s table. These areas can be used to score points and practice avoiding losing points or double faults for hits that you miss.
8. Watch Videos Analyzing Yourself
When you practice ping pong solo, it is very difficult to improve your gaming skills if you don’t know what you could have done better. If you don’t have anyone to watch you training and provide feedback, you can use a camera to record yourself while practicing. Install a camera to capture your movement and skills while playing.
You can watch these videos to figure out how you can improve. Also, you should watch videos of your previous table tennis games to find tactical, mental and technical mistakes that you made while playing.
9. Watch Videos Analyzing Professional Players
Another way to get better results in table tennis is by learning from professionals. You can watch videos of table tennis pros that have played table tennis for years. Doing this will help you understand the thought process behind various techniques and shots.
Pro Tip: For better results, watch videos of professionals with a play style similar to yours.
10. Stay In Shape
Since ping pong is a fast-paced game, physical training is required to excel at this sport. Even though you need to practice trying different tactics and techniques regularly, you also have to ensure that you’re physically fit enough to keep up with the high pace of the match.
Do regular cardio sessions of 30 minutes and more to keep fit. You can run on a treadmill or go jogging frequently. You’ll also want to up your anaerobic capacity by doing interval training.
11. Practice Your Footwork
Footwork is another important factor to focus on when playing table tennis. In the absence of anyone to play or practice with, consider working on your footwork. Your footwork and body movements highly impact the quality of your strokes.
You can practice footwork at home or at the gym. Simply focus on improving your flexibility and being able to move in any direction. While moving, try to imagine your possible moves and plan how to hit the ball. This will ensure that you’re ready to replicate the movement in competitive or friendly games.
12. Engage In Mental Training
Being a great table tennis player is not all about your physical readiness. You also have to be mentally ready. Many people who play ping pong in tournaments will tell you of the mental struggle that comes with being a professional.
To be a great player, you have to harness your mind’s power. Take some time to practice mental training exercises. Increase your mental toughness by finding ways to clear your head and increase your self-confidence
Top Table Tennis Drills
There are various methods of practicing table tennis whether you’re a beginner or a pro. One of the best ways to improve your skills is through drills. Here are 10 training drills you can practice.
One Backhand, One Forehand
This drill is great for warm-up and it allows you to practice your footwork during training. For this drill, you have to alternate between backhand and forehand shots.
Tip: Fold one end of the table so the ball bounces off it back to you.
Two Backhands, Two Forehands
This drill is similar to the first one, only instead of doing one backhand and one forehand, you do two before switching.
Backhand, Middle, Backhand, Wide
This is another variation of the first drill. However, instead of hitting a single target, you aim for various zones. The drill goes backhand, forehand down the middle, backhand and forehand wide.
One Forehand, One Middle, One Backhand, One Middle
Yet another variation of the one backhand, one forehand drill, aimed at keeping your feet moving. In this drill, you aim for the middle, alternating between a forehand and backhand shot.
This drill aims to improve balance and your footwork. It goes forehand from the middle, forehand from the backhand side, forehand from the middle and forehand from the forehand side.
Your table tennis robot is required for this drill. Once you have that ready, follow these steps:
- Set the oscillator control level to a narrow sweep range.
- Regulate the oscillator speed until the balls are placed at each end of the sweep range.
- Finally, hit the balls coming to the forecourt with forehand strokes and those coming to your backhand court with backhand strokes.
Serve Accuracy Under Pressure
Here, the aim is to allow you to play better under pressure. Place a target on your opponent’s half of the table. Choose a serve and aim for the second bounce to hit the target. Keep serving until you hit the target 10 times without missing.
Click here to learn how to serve better.
Serve Target Practice
This drill is similar to the previous one but you have multiple targets to aim at this time. Rotate each target, moving to a new one after hitting the previous target.
Flick Or Topspin
In this drill, you set your robot to alternate between short and long serves. Return the serves with either a flick or topspin shot.
The Faulkenberg is a movement drill that requires the use of a robot. The machine releases three balls, two to your backhand and then one to your forehand. You will need to play a backhand, a forehand from the backhand side and then a forehand from wide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can practice ping pong alone. There are several table tennis training methods available that do not require you to have a partner or a coach. For example, you can fold one end of your ping pong table and play against it or use a ball machine. You should also work on improving your mental performance.
You can improve your ping pong skills by practicing. Work on improving your serves in your spare time. You can also learn how to receive difficult serves better by practicing with a table tennis robot. Also, consider watching videos of professional players to learn things that you can do better.
You should practice table tennis a couple of times a week. Ensure that you get at least 30 minutes of practice on each occasion. Consistency is important for anyone looking to improve in table tennis, whether it be a beginner or a professional player. The more time you dedicate to training, the quicker you’re likely to improve.
You can practice table tennis without a table through shadow play. Shadow play is a training plan that involves swinging your racket as if you were playing against an opponent. This training method doesn’t require a table or even a ball and it helps you improve your overall technique and footwork.
The most important skill in table tennis is serving. Making a top serve makes it difficult for your opponent to return it easily, giving you an advantage. You should also focus on forehand drives and backhand drives so you can return your opponent’s hits perfectly. Ensure that you spend more time practicing these skills to become better.
It’s not always possible to play ping pong with a partner, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the game at all. If you followed this article through, you now know how to practice ping pong by yourself. While a robot is a great alternative to a partner, other less expensive methods can be employed to improve your ping pong skills.