Table tennis drills when playing without a partner
By Averlynn Lim
During table tennis training, we may not always have the luxury of having a partner to practice with. However, we can still improve our techniques by performing a variety of individual drills.
Practicing on your own
Some of these drills can fortunately be done on your own and one popular way is through the use of table tennis robots that assume the role of your opponent.
These robots are simple interactive machines that shoot balls out from across other side of the net. You can also play against the wall with a half table or practice your footwork on your own by taking imaginary shots.
As you would have seen in our guide to improving your table tennis footwork having good footwork is essential in becoming a good table tennis player. The footwork in table tennis is not something instinctual, so it requires the right training to develop the proper footwork.
The best players have undergone footwork drills for years, to the point that they have internalized these movements and are able to move their feet accordingly in the most efficient way when put under pressure by opponents. Practising footwork is essentially the equivalent of practising scales in music.
Tip: When performing footwork drills, never rush. Take time to get the movements right before increasing your speed.
Footwork Drill 101 – Five Forehands (Middle, Backhand, Middle, Backhand, Forehand)
This drill used by the Indian National Team consists of five forehands. Forehand from middle, forehand from backhand side, forehand from middle, forehand from backhand side, and forehand from wide forehand.
In case you're wondering about these terms - a forehand is a stroke that is played on the right hand side of the players’ body for right handers and vice versa for left handers. The forehand side of a player is a right handed player’s right hand side and vice versa for left handers.
This is a great footwork drill to practice as it really gets you moving with a variation of steps big and small from left to right.
Tips to help you with this drill
1. Make sure you have ample space to play your forehand to prevent awkward shots and better mobility during the game.
2. Move before the stroke. This is a good habit to develop during all movement drills as it is vital to get your feet in place first before you play the stroke. Note that you should not be moving still when you play the stroke. Instead, stop briefly in the right spot before playing it.
Practice your serves
Another form of individual training is practising your serve skills. It is one of the easiest ways to increase your skill level in table tennis but keep in mind your drills have to be productive.
Tips to help make the most out of your serving drills
1. Serve one ball at a time - Don’t hold on to more than one ball while doing a serve as this affects your ball toss. Instead, keep a box of balls next to you on the table.
2. Take your time – Do no rush during practice. Instead make sure you train at a steady and unhurried pace. It is not the quantity of serves you make, but rather how you make the most out of each serve.
3. Don’t serve and stop - To simulate a real game environment, during practice continue the motion of the service and get into the ready position for your next ball.
4. Watch and learn - Pay close attention to how the professionals do their serves and try to emulate them. They have been practising and improvising techniques that work at the highest level, so there's always something to learn by watching them.
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