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Ping pong is a game that anyone can play, but that doesn’t mean it can be played well by everyone. Like any other sport, it takes a lot of skill and patience to become a pro at it.
That said, it is important to note that professional players started as amateurs too. With enough training, consistency, and practice, they were able to become better at their craft. There are a few things that separate professional ping pong players from the amateurs.
Let’s look at the three differences between the pros and the beginners as well as some tips on how you can start practicing like a pro.
What Separates Professional Ping Pong Players from Amateurs?
Below are the three key things that you have to keep in mind if you want to get better at ping pong.
Pros Are Consistent
Pro ping pong players train consistently while it’s more common for amateurs to train very little or not at all. The world’s best ping pong players started playing when they were only around 6 to 8 years old and would prepare 5 or 6 days a week for over a decade.
While you don’t have to be as extreme as this to be a professional, there are lessons that you can only learn by consistently training. Amateurs should aim to practice almost daily for at least an hour or two.
Pros Diversify Their Training Techniques
Players serious about the game implement diverse training sessions. By trying out different methods, they’ll know what doesn’t work and what to avoid in real games. They’ll also learn what methods their opponents are using. This knowledge gives them a competitive edge.
Amateurs may know one or two techniques but will not know all of them. If they play against a player more skilled than they are, they won’t have as much of a competitive edge over them.
Pros Practice Mental Toughness
Amateurs may give into self-doubt allowing the opponent to take advantage of that. They may quit after one game that they lose because they feel discouraged. A professional ping player does the opposite. They let their losses fuel their wins.
Pros work hard to be mentally tough. Training consistently for long hours a day requires the right mindset. So does losing a game but still looking forward to the next. Professional ping pong players will often read self-development books to feed their minds with positive material.
8 Tips to Play Ping Pong Like A Pro
Now that you know the high-level things that can help level-up your game, let’s talk about a few practical tips.
#1: Improve Your Reaction Time
To play ping pong like a pro, you need quick reflexes and incredible coordination. Practice this by playing multi-ball.
- Stand on one side of the table while someone else stands on the other side with a bucket of balls
- Have the other person quickly hit the balls to your side and try to return as many of them as you possibly can.
- When the bucket empties, switch roles and become the server
#2: Learn to Handle Your Paddle
To have an accurate, powerful serve, you need to be able to generate enough power by having a good grip on the paddle. Below are two basic grips you can learn.
First, the pen-hold grip:
- Put your hand on the handle and hold it as if the base were a pen
- Wrap your index finger and thumb around the handle while your other three fingers are on the back of the racket
Second, the handshake grip:
- Place all of your fingers around the racket’s handle except your index finger
- Position your index finger on the rubber to provide support to the backhand side of the racket
#3: Start Engaging Your Core
Surprisingly, speed and quick reaction times come from your core. One great tip for strengthening your core is doing sit-ups on a slanted bench. Using this type of equipment increases your range of motion and challenges you.
- Do one sit up straight up
- Twist to your right, go back down
- Repeat this on your left side
- You should complete four reps (one set of 12) for each exercise
#4: Increase Your Speed
You need lightning-fast footwork to win the game. You can achieve it with this workout:
- Get a partner and six cones, number the cones, and position them in a 6-foot circle
- Stand in the middle while your partner shouts out numbers
- Sidestep to the appropriate cone and run back to the middle
To make this exercise even more difficult, add the following twist – allow your partner to throw a 10-pound medicine ball at you at any time:
- When you catch the ball, you have to twist and squat either to the left or right
- You’ll have to complete three 20-second intervals with only 30 seconds of rest in between each one
#5: Improve Your Serve
Having a fast serve means having control over your entire body. You should know how your legs, core, and wrists are engaging with each other at all times. Short serves are ideal for building up your skill level because contact with the ball is sharp and direct.
#6: Learn and Apply Placement and Faking
Placement and faking are deception techniques commonly used by professional ping pong players.
Placement is when the player makes it seem like they’ll serve in one direction but end up serving in another direction. This is a common technique during long serves since the opponent doesn’t have enough time to adjust.
Faking occurs when the player swings the racket back and forth near the ball. This makes it difficult for the opponent to know precisely when the ball is touched.
#7: Learn How to Use Spins to Deceive Opponent
There are two main spins that pros use to deceive their opponents. They may be difficult to master if you are a beginner. Still, with enough practice, it will indeed become more effortless.
Backspins are used very often because they resemble sidespins. This throws off the opponent completely. Side spins are more advanced spins, but they work in the same way. Your opponent can’t decipher which is which at the start of the spin, being effectively deceived.
#8: Practice More Than You Play
Your primary objective should be to develop your skills. It’s essential to play practice games to see where you need to improve and where you’re doing well. The various techniques mentioned also require a lot of practice to master.
If you’re looking to improve your ping pong skills and level-up your game, it is entirely possible. Practicing and training as much as you can, learning and applying different techniques, and keeping a positive mindset is invaluable when it comes to leveling up.
No one is born a professional ping pong player. They only become this way through hard work and dedication. This means that any amateur can play like the pros if they just work hard enough at it.