Table Tennis Footwork: How to Move Right?

Formidable table tennis players have excellent skills when it comes to moving their feet. Learn the types of footwork that exist and how to improve yours.
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Last updatedLast updated: June 07, 2022
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To become a table tennis player is one thing. But to become a good player, one that is reckoned with, celebrated, and is making enough money from playing, is another thing. You would have to work on your skills, increase your focus, invest in training and training materials, etc. One of the skills that you would need to improve is your table tennis footwork. Good footwork will allow you to catch the ball, send it back, and catch it again with stamina, balance, speed, and better focus. It will also help to increase the quality of your shots.

Footwork is also more than just being able to send and catch shots, and it is about a strong and confident positioning of the body that eliminates bad posture excessive leaning, and also frightens your opponent. Therefore, a skilled player – or at least anyone that wants to become a skilled player needs to pay attention to the footing (footwork) while playing. In this guide, we will discuss the types of footwork and how you can improve your footwork using some table tennis drilling exercises.

Types of footwork

There is more than one way to position yourself correctly and confidently when playing on the other side of the table. The following are the types of table tennis playing stance that gives you the quality shots only a professional can play.

Ready position

Table Tennis Footwork: How to Move Right?

The ready position is the most basic and simplest of all the footwork.

It is regarded as the foundation for all other table tennis foot works. However, you can also get this position right if you are well-kitted for the game. With a fitted jersey or outfit and a quality table tennis shoe, this position can be mastered quickly. It is also the go-to playing position that many professional table tennis players result in after playing a great shot.

Here is how to get the ready position:

  1. You would need to lower your body’s center of gravity for better rigidity hence, bend your knees and spread your legs slightly apart. Too much space can throw you out of balance, alter your natural height, and give you bad posture. About 1.5 to 2 shoulder width ft is enough.
  2. Lean slightly forward while resting your weight on the heel of your foot. Then place your arms forward, out, and below (at a 900 angle) like you are ready to hit a ball. If you have a racket with you, this will come quite easily.
  3. For left-handed players, when you want to hit the ball, move your elbow to the opposite side (in this case, the right) of the table’s middle, and with your right foot, move a little bit forward for comfortability. The opposite should be done for right-handed players.
  4. Then use backhand or forehand to send the ball back with every hit.

While practicing this footwork/stance, ensure that you are not too far from the table, nor is your arm too close to your core (body). The best way to practice this stance is to use some of the best table tennis training robots because they shoot with accuracy and consistency so that you can effectively master this basic and foundation table tennis stance.

Side to side footwork

Table Tennis Footwork: How to Move Right?

This is the next most common footwork in table tennis, and from the name, it implies much more than just a stationary position.

The side-to-side footwork is movement footwork that involves a tennis player moving from one side of the table to the other. The movement occurs only when it is advantageous and makes it easy to hit the ball back to the opponent.

Without the knowledge of this skill, many table tennis players would have lost a lot of tournament matches. As the sport gets even more aggressive than it ever was, there is only a little time to move from one side to the other and back to the first spot again without losing the ball.

This is how to do the side to side footwork with speed and balance:

  1. While holding a good table tennis net in your hand, detect which is your trailing outside foot and your leading foot without having to look at them.
  2. Carry your trailing foot towards the side you are looking at moving to (that is, from left to right or from the right to the left). Then have your lead foot follow accordingly.
  3. When returning to the former stance (usually this is the ready position), move your trailing foot back. Note that you don’t have to turn 3600 to complete the side-to-side position/movement.

While playing, remember that you don’t have to use big huge steps. This can increase the physical stress table tennis already places on your body Trusted Source The Physiological Demands of Table Tennis: A Review - PMC Although table tennis has a tradition lasting more than 100 years, relatively little is known about players’ physiological requirements – especially during competition. In this review we discuss research studies that have led to our current understanding of how the body functions during table tennis training and competition and how this is altered by training. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov . Instead, take smaller steps called ‘shuffling.’ You can also hop from one side to the other, noting that the dominant foot doesn’t stay too far from the ground for balance.

In and out footwork

In and out footwork is an upgrade from side to side footwork, and it is mostly used when a table tennis player receives a hard, fast, long shot that requires you to step back a bit before returning the ball. It is also required when you are far from the table, and you need to come closer to return a drop shot.

So whether you are close or a bit far from the table, the in and out movement footwork will make it easy for you to come close or go far without losing balance. It also helps to increase the quality of your return shots. Just as the side-to-side movement, in and out footwork begins from the ready position with a quality tennis shoe that does not slip while moving fast. Follow these steps to learn how to do them in and out movement:

  1. Stand in the ready position and make sure that you are not too close to the table for an ‘in’ movement nor too far for an ‘out’ movement.
  2. For right-handers, when moving in, move your left foot forward (which is the non-dominant foot) slightly, then move the right foot – the dominant one next. Left-handed players will move the right foot first before the left to move in or out.
  3. If you don’t feel too comfortable with the movement sequence above, simply determine what leg is in front and which is at the back. Then move the back leg first before moving the one at the front for an ‘in’ footwork. When you want to move outwards, the front leg will go first, and then the back leg follows.
  4. Similar to the side-to-side movement, you can hop from front to back instead of simply moving your legs. Hopping allows you to move faster from the front to the back when returning long or drop shots.

By learning and practicing this footwork, you would be able to react fast to the situation without thinking first. That’s what makes the difference between an amateur table tennis player and a pro.

Crossover footwork

This is the last footwork that’s majorly used when playing table tennis, and it is also the hardest to get. You would have to master the ready position, side to side, and in and out movement footwork to be able to get the crossover footwork. It is the complex version of side-to-side footwork, and it is used when there is no time to move from side to side while following the sequence.

Table tennis players that train with a training robot would be more familiar with the crossover footwork because of how the table tennis robot is designed Trusted Source Robot Pingpong Coach Helps Players Up Their Table Tennis Game | HowStuffWorks Robots and the artificial intelligence that drives them are already improving a wide variety of facets of life on Earth. They can perform detailed surgical procedures with precision, assist in dangerous search-and-rescue missions and even take care of pesky chores like doing the dishes.  science.howstuffworks.com to send balls flying quickly in different directions. Here are the steps to follow when you want to do the crossover footwork:

  1. Take the foundational position and determine which is your forehand side.
  2. Turn your body away from the table’s direction and toward your forehand side.
  3. While doing this, wind your hand back like you are carrying an imaginary bat (or if you are carrying a real table tennis bat, then wind that bat like you want to play your shot). This move is so that you can return the ball even while you are still turning your body across the table tennis table.
The crossover footwork is to primarily help table tennis players burst forward to return a fast shot. It is more commonly used than other types of footwork because it is quicker and more efficient in landing winning shots.

How to improve your footwork?

Most players are very familiar with the types of footwork and how they work. However, some can’t execute them properly. Others might have an idea, but this will be rated close to nothing in a tournament or during open play. That is why it is also good to work on improving your footwork skill for better plays. Here are a few ways to improve your footwork.

Basic drills

Basic drills are practicing simple but repetitive movement steps that help to flex the muscles. It is also aimed at covering the footwork movements until they become an unconscious activity. There isn’t one rule to which basic drill any player should do. Unlike the rules of table tennis Trusted Source Table Tennis Rules Explained | Decathlon It’s likely that you already know this, but the aim of table tennis is to hit the ball over the net and onto your opponent’s end without it bouncing on your side. If your opponent cannot return the ball in a similar fashion (either by not making contact with the ball on their side or hitting the net), then you win a point. play.decathlon.co.uk , basic drills are down to your preference. One example is a repeat of the backhand and forehand loop to master the transition between both techniques.

Multiball

Table Tennis Footwork: How to Move Right?

This drill or practice technique involves the use of a ball feeder or a table tennis robot.

You would also need all the types of equipment for playing table tennis readily available like a bat, the table, net, and so on. To use this method to practice your footwork, the feeder will serve you the ball, and you would practice each footwork. Since the feeder can be set to different settings, you can practice at a slow pace then work things up to higher speed settings.

Shadow drills

Unlike the multiball technique, this drill type doesn’t require the use of a ball, a feeder, or any other table tennis equipment Trusted Source Equipment Needed To Play Table Tennis Sure, you can always borrow other people’s, but it’s best to have your own personal ping-pong paddle. We’ll talk more about how to choose your first table tennis racket later, but for now, I’m simply going to describe what a table tennis racket actually is, without getting too bogged down in all the rules concerning rackets just yet (and there are quite a few!). www.liveabout.com . In this technique, you would need a mirror so you can see yourself while you practice each footwork sequence. The focus will not be on whether you land the hit or not but on the quality of your footwork. You can also work at your pace and correct yourself at any point.

Random drills

Similar to the multiball technique, plus, you can use a feeder here also. However, instead of focusing on mastering particular footwork, you would incorporate all footwork into your training randomly. That is why you would need to invest in a table tennis shoe with enough friction and weightlessness for easy movement. While the feeder sends you the ball, you use all movement techniques to send the ball back.

Falkenburg drill

Falkenburg drill is the most exhausting of them all. It takes a lot from you like a table tennis player, especially physically. It also involves a lot of exercising and anaerobic movements. Falkenburg drill is somewhat similar to the basic drill since it also involves repetitive movements. However, it is simply more intense and comprehensive. While doing this drill, you will add speed, agility, and balance while jumping/hopping from one side of the tennis table to another.

Final thoughts

Learning and improving your footwork skills is essential if you wish to top your game. While there are only four types of footwork, you need to learn how to use the four different types to make a great game. The ready stance acts as the foundation for other footwork. The side to side makes it easy to catch shots on both ends of the table, while the in and out footwork makes it easy to return a long or a drop shot.

Finally, the crossover table tennis footwork combines almost all of the other footwork and makes it easy to move from one point to the other swiftly and in balance. However, the only way to become a pro at these movement skills is to practice and remain consistent.

References

1.
The Physiological Demands of Table Tennis: A Review - PMC
Although table tennis has a tradition lasting more than 100 years, relatively little is known about players’ physiological requirements – especially during competition. In this review we discuss research studies that have led to our current understanding of how the body functions during table tennis training and competition and how this is altered by training.
2.
Robot Pingpong Coach Helps Players Up Their Table Tennis Game | HowStuffWorks
Robots and the artificial intelligence that drives them are already improving a wide variety of facets of life on Earth. They can perform detailed surgical procedures with precision, assist in dangerous search-and-rescue missions and even take care of pesky chores like doing the dishes. 
3.
Table Tennis Rules Explained | Decathlon
It’s likely that you already know this, but the aim of table tennis is to hit the ball over the net and onto your opponent’s end without it bouncing on your side. If your opponent cannot return the ball in a similar fashion (either by not making contact with the ball on their side or hitting the net), then you win a point.
4.
Equipment Needed To Play Table Tennis
Sure, you can always borrow other people’s, but it’s best to have your own personal ping-pong paddle. We’ll talk more about how to choose your first table tennis racket later, but for now, I’m simply going to describe what a table tennis racket actually is, without getting too bogged down in all the rules concerning rackets just yet (and there are quite a few!).
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