When learning anything, it’s helpful to break it down into the fundamentals, and then focus on each step individually. Without focusing on the basics, people will often find themselves developing bad habits that they then need to unlearn, and relearn months after they have started. If you want to take your practice seriously, then it’s a good idea to invest in your own equipment. You can find some good reviews at DDPlan.com (source).
Step 1: Grip
The first step to learn is to grip the bat properly. There are two main grips to get a handle on – the penhold and the shakehand grip. The penhold takes the bat between the thumb and the first finger, like a pen as the name suggests. The shakehand is a more traditionally Western grip where the bat is held with a full grip, as if you’re shaking hands with someone.
Step 2: Stance
This is a crucial aspect of table tennis that most people skip, and then have to be learned later on. The main thing to focus on with your stance is to get yourself low with your feet about shoulder-width and a half apart and a slight squat. This gives you the best position to move and return balls.
Step 3: Footwork
Once you have your stance, you can start to work on moving correctly. Table tennis doesn’t generally require you to move far, but you’ll need to move fast and explosively. Work on taking short quick steps to each side as you begin to return shots.
Step 4: Forehand shot
The most straightforward and often most used shot is the forehand drive. The key to this is to focus on technique and consistency. Learn the basics of the shot, and keep it relatively relaxed to start with. Once you get a feel for how the shot should look, you can begin increasing the power and working on drills to improve it.
Step 5: Backhand shot
For some people, a forehand shot comes naturally, and the backhand shot is more difficult. For others, it can be the other way around. The two shots are very different, so if the backhand shot is more difficult for you, spend the time to master it. It’s key to keep your grip consistent for when you start to transition to using both forehand and backhand shots.
Step 6: The serve
Your serve will start every game, and should be focused on to set the tone of any game to your advantage. Most beginners focus on trying to simply get the ball to the right part of the table, which is a great start. Once you master this, start to work on 2-3 different serves to make your game more unpredictable. The two best serves to master at the start are the fast topspin, and the backspin serve. These two serves are very different and will act to make you a more versatile player.
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