Table tennis has come a long way since the days it was a youth hostel time waster. Now events such as SPiN New York, Bounce London and King of Ping have taken the sport from church halls and YMCAs and mixed them fine dining and club nights to create events that every self respecting hipster wants to be seen in.
Being seen in some of the hippest nights out is one thing, being able to string together a decent rally at a table tennis social is another. Luckily, I’ve enlisted the help of British table tennis number one and triple European champion Paul Drinkhall, speaking at a Dunlop event, to giv us novices some tips on how to improve our table tennis game.
1) 'The most important thing when you’re starting out table tennis is to not get too far ahead of yourself. It’s a sport where consistency and getting the basics nailed down is king. Starting out, focus on something small like making sure your forehands always land on the table. From there, no matter what happens, you know you have a decent forehand to fall back on.
2) Once you’ve mastered getting your simple shots on the table, the next step is to work on your movement round the court so you can make these sorts of shots from anywhere on the table. Good footwork starts by placing your weight on the balls of your feet. Try to stay balanced and to avoid jumping all over the place – simple movements allow you to get your shots off easier.
3) Table tennis is one of the fastest sports you can play due to the reaction speeds needed. The amount of spin a player can put on a ball means that you often have mere seconds to get a shot away. Spin is what separates the good players from the excellent ones.
An easy way a beginner can begin mastering spin in table tennis is mastering their serve. The serve is your stamp upon a match – you throw the ball, you hit it, it’s your way of imposing how much spin a rally can involve. Mastering your serve and the angles at which you like hitting the ball to start off is a good way to pick up a few cheap points in a game and a great way to dominate early on.
4) Hand eye co-ordination, plays a massive part in table tennis. You can work on this by simply practicing catching a ball every so often. When I started out we did an exercise where someone would stand behind you and drop a tennis ball over your shoulder and you had to catch it before it bounced twice. While that might not be so easy to practice in an office, playing the odd game of catch keeps you sharp and helps your reaction speeds.'
British number one Paul Drinkhall trains and competes using Dunlop table-tennis apparel and equipment which is available at sportsdirect.com