Ping pong is a game that can be highly addictive, partially because of its competitive nature. Let’s be honest, no matter who we are, we’re always going to do our best to beat our rival on the other side of the table. To help achieve this, we’ve decided to write a guide on how to practice ping pong by yourself.
Unfortunately, we will not always have the opportunity to play against someone when we are looking to practice – as this is the ideal form of practice. On the upside, there are ways in which we can practice without having a second player – meaning we can up our game before the next big match.
We are going to look at a few different ways of practicing, as well as some other activities which will benefit your ping pong game. Here is a list of what we’ll cover:
- Using the playback table position
- Using a ping pong robot
- Using a return board
- Practicing technique with shadow movements
- Watching professional table tennis
- Working out and warming up
Not all of these are necessarily practiced, however, participating in any of the activities will benefit you as a ping pong player.
1 – Using the Playback Table Position
This is our favorite way to practice, as it is easy to set up, and apart from having a table – you don’t need to invest in other equipment.
This method simply involves folding one half of the table vertically at a 90 degree, so that you can use this ‘wall’ as an opponent. Players can play normally and hit shots against the table, working on areas where they feel they are weak. This method is great for working on serves, which is a vital part of the game.
On the downside of this practice method, the ‘wall’ isn’t capable of putting spin on the ball – which are generally harder shots to return. It is advised that players use this method to work on technique as well as practice putting their own spin on the ball.
Some of the tables which we’ve reviewed here, offer the playback position.
2 – Using a Ping Pong Robot
This is probably the most effective way to practice ping pong alone. These are quite an investment, however, they may be worth it if you are an aspiring elite player.
These robots shoot balls at you on a set timer every few seconds, which mimics the shots of an actual player. You can also set the direction and angle you want shots to come at you, meaning you’re able to work on any kind of shot.
As mentioned, this is a more pricey option. However, there are definitely affordable options to look at, which won’t do too much damage to the bank account.
We’ve reviewed our favorite ping pong practice robots here.
3 – Using a Return Board
Another investment that might be worth making if you’re looking to practice is a ping pong return board. These boards are also budget-friendly.
This acts in a similar way as the playback table position, as players hit their shots against the wall-like structure. The board then returns the shots in a similar form as that of a player.
This is again a great way for players to work on shots of all kinds. These return boards provide ideal bounce and speed which closely represents that of a player.
A nice example of a return board is the Wally Rebounder. This board gives the player the opportunity to practice repetitively as well as work on shots at different heights.
Return boards are also something that can be made by players themselves.
Here is a video showing an example:
4 – Practicing technique with Shadow Movements
This is essentially taking actual balls out of play, and imagining playing a rally against an opponent. Using a mirror is ideal as you are able to watch your movements, and notice any flaws in your technique.
A good idea before doing this is to watch some professional ping pong, to get an idea of how the best players position themselves and play certain shots. An example of this would be to watch how professional player transitions from playing a forehand shot, to a backhand shot.
Technique is a critical component in ping pong. If players can build a solid technique, everything else should naturally fall into place eventually.
5 – Watching Professional Table Tennis
During one’s spare time, we recommend watching some professional ping pong games. These can be found all over YouTube, and include tournaments such as the Olympics, The North-American Championships, or the European Championships.
These players show the optimal technique for all shots – so watching them can definitely help you pick up on a few tips and skills.
A few key things to look out for are how these players serve, how they transition from forehand to backhand, or how they turn defense into attack within a second. How these players position themselves for each shot coming their way is another thing to keep an eye on.
6 – Working out and warming up
Often, ping pong sessions go on for long periods, where plenty of games are played. Sometimes, we may be winning the first few – but as the games go on, fatigue settles in and our level of play drops. This is something we can work on easily in our own time.
If we’re able to withstand the length of long periods of play and keep our game at a high level throughout – we’ll end up winning a lot more games. Ways of doing this include cardio-focused exercises, such as running, skipping, or even just playing a lot of ping pong. Being ping pong fit is a great skill to have, and often, it’s something you’ll have over your opponent in battle.
Warming up before your matches is also a good option. This warm-up can include doing a light cardio movement – which gets the heart rate up. Stretching is also a good option, working on areas such as wrist mobility, or hamstring mobility. Doing warm-ups will help us be ready for our match from the get-go.
Wanting to beat your buddy in a game of ping pong is perfectly natural, as it is an extremely competitive game. We’ve suggested a few ways in which one can work on and improve their ping pong – even when no one is around for a session.
Do you know any other methods of practicing alone? Let us know below.