Good footwork is a key component to table tennis success. Proper footwork and knowing when to use different techniques can make the difference between being able to get to your opponents shot and just missing it. In this blog, we will explore several quick table tennis footwork drills you can practice and also provide some additional tips to improve your table tennis game.
One's footwork will differ by the situation presented in the match. There is no set of rules that must be followed at all times in order to hit the ideal shots. A player's initial position combined with the speed and direction of the opponent's shot will uniquely dictate how his feet should move. However, here are a few general table tennis footwork drills that will help table tennis players succeed no matter what type of situation is presented.
The Shuffle Step
A player should learn to “shuffle step” with both feet at the same time. This means to move from side to side in a quick manner. Players should also move slightly forward and backward while shuffle stepping to properly imitate actual match play. No table tennis player moves strictly from side to side. Some of his opponents shots will land either close to the net or towards to the end of the table. The player will have to adjust accordingly, by moving forward and backward while shuffle stepping at the same time. The player should practice a stroke motion while shuffle stepping.
Practice the One Step
"One step" footwork is worth practicing for the situations where a player is unable to shuffle step both feet. If he is facing a line drive rally that approaches him with rapid speed, he only has time to move one foot. This "one step" moves him close enough to the ball in order to return it to his opponent. Line drive rallies are a common scenario faced by table tennis players so one step footwork must be practiced with great frequency.
It should be noted that the player won't be able to put his entire weight into the shot while employing one step footwork. Therefore, he should not practice it with a full load behind his shot. He'll only have time to perform a small back swing as the ball is coming at him quickly. The player should focus on making his single step and simultaneously rotating his shoulders and hips while loading a small but quick back swing.
When to Use a Crossover Step
Player should also spend time completing crossover steps. While shuffle stepping is used to move across small distances, crossover stepping is employed when a player must move a significant distance to hit a return shot. The player will move either their left foot past the right or the right foot past the left depending on the direction of the rally. Be sure to pass in front of the other foot. Once both feet have settled on the ground the ball should have been hit.
Footwork While Serving
The serve's footwork movement is one of the more important ping pong drills to practice. Some players take a small step forward during the serve motion then move that foot back to a parallel with the other foot, ready to shuffle step. This is essential to practice as the player must be ready to return a shot immediately after he has hit the initial serve. He must return to shuffle step position with his feet parallel to one another in order to load his rally shot.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Table tennis players should practice footwork drills on a regular basis. Players should always try to keep a low center of balance, remain slightly crouched and lean forward so that their weight is shifted to the balls of the feet instead of the toes and heels.The key is to establish muscle memory so that the legs and feet can replicate the practice movements in a live match setting. Have fun!