Table Tennis Hand Signals: Basics Gestures and Their Meaning!

This article will help you understand essential signals and teach you how to use them during the game.
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Last updatedLast updated: June 17, 2022
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Table tennis hand signals play a huge role in making the game more enjoyable to watch, and they can also help you improve your playing skills on the court. In a table tennis game, communication is done in two ways, verbal for the tactics and hand signals for the service. A table tennis game has multiple hand signals that every player ought to know. The hand signals were introduced by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) back in 1981 to complement verbal communication in indicating certain decisions. They are more convenient in terms of communication service. This article discusses all the common hand signals in a table tennis game and their meaning. Read on to find out if the signals are the same for everyone and what you can do to learn them quickly so that the game is much easier and more enjoyable.

Are hand signals the same for everyone?

Hand signals are like a universal language that makes the game of table tennis easier. As mentioned earlier, in a game of ping pong, players communicate in two ways, verbally for the tactics and through hand signals for the service. When playing doubles, you must communicate with your partner using hand signals to let them know your opponent’s serve style to prepare for an appropriate counter shot. If you are playing at the net, you can use hand gestures to communicate where the server should serve from and how the net player will move after the serve.

It is much easier to communicate with a partner you have played with long enough using hand signals. When you get a new partner, it takes a little getting used to, but you only need to follow the order of the hand signals. The order doesn’t change whether you are on the serving or the receiving team. Read these ping pong doubles rules Trusted Source Ping Pong Doubles Rules A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 21 points unless both players or pairs score 20 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points. www.okbu.edu to better understand the order of serving, receiving, and ends.

The first-hand signal in a doubles game indicates where the shot is meant to be hit, and the second shows where the net man will be after the hit. Each pair of players in a double game will have a unique set of signals. Your opposing playing partners may not have the same hand gestures as yours. However, most hand signals are universal and can be understood across continents even if they have some variances.

Most used hand signals and their meaning

Table Tennis Hand Signals: Basics Gestures and Their Meaning!

The thumb means short, the index finger means long, the pinky finger means short underspin, and the fist means no spin.

Here are some of the most commonly used hand signals in a table tennis game. They are all meant to communicate the type of serve to your partner so they can prepare for a good shot when the ball returns. Each signal has been nicknamed for easy understanding and entertainment.

A quick tip: Since your hand signals literally give away your next move, be sure to be discreet. You can communicate under the table or behind your back, so long as your opposing team doesn’t see the gestures.

Thumbing it up

In a ping pong game, a thumb up is a way to tell your partner that you are going to do a topspin serve. According to an article on how to play table tennis by ITTF Education Trusted Source How to play table tennis - Forehand TopSpin - ITTF Education It is essential to have a good basic technique on which to build; if the foundations are not in place then trying to reach a higher level is virtually impossible. Furthermore, the more sophisticated and physically demanding sport becomes then totally impossible becomes the answer. www.ittfeducation.com , when you do a topspin, it rebounds in an upward direction the moment the ball contacts your opponent’s paddle. This is because the ball gets more downward pressure as a result of the forward spin. After it bounces on the table, it stays low and accelerates forward. Your thumb’s direction will communicate to your partner where the ball will be served. For instance, if you tilt your thumb to the right, it means you are going to serve the ball to the right.

“What’s your point”

The index finger pointing down is mostly used by professionals to signal a backspin serve. It is common among professionals because the backspin serve is hard to return, and most of them use it to win extra points.

Little piggy

The little finger is used to signal a short backspin serve. According to SportsBrowser Net, the primary purpose of a short backspin serve is to take away your opponent’s ability to play an attacking stroke on the return. When you do a short backspin serve, the ball bounces close to the net; thus, the second bounce on your opponent’s side is inevitably short and close to the net.

SMF

SMF means shake my fist, and it is used to indicate a no-spin server. According to RevSpin, Trusted Source No-Spin - Table Tennis Dictionary No-Spin in the Table Tennis Dictionary. Look up all sorts of ping pong terminology. revspin.net the table tennis dictionary, a no-spin ball has very little or no spin and is meant to confuse the opponent. A very low no-spin serve is a brilliant way of gaining an edge over your opponent because you limit their ability to receive. Unlike most serves, the no-spin serve is not aimed at producing an error from an opponent. It is highly effective when the opponent is forced to receive the ball conservatively after misreading it to be a heavy backspin serve.

Learning table tennis hand signals can be a bit tricky as some of the finger gestures are used in regular tennis differently and have different meanings. Here are some of the finger gestures we have looked at in table tennis that is also used in the regular tennis game.

Fist bump

The fist bump is used to signal ‘stay’ in regular tennis. It means the net man will be staying on his ground and covering the line.

Pinky

The pinky finger in regular tennis is used to indicate a return cross. The return cross takes the server’s partner out of point and takes away the server’s ability to hit the ball.

Are you in need of any ping pong gear like paddles, shoes, or a standard table tennis net and have no idea where to look? Read our articles on the best table tennis paddles, best table tennis shoes, and best table tennis net for unmatched quality. According to expert reviews, the Killerspin Impact D9 PowerGrip is one of the best paddles you can get in the market currently. It is perfect for an all-around playing style. The JOOLA infinity overdrive racket is its closest match as it has a superior quality build, and it comes in an ITTF regulation size.

Final thoughts

Without a proper understanding of table tennis hand signals, you are not ready to cut the racket. Understanding the hand signals as a beginner can help you enjoy watching a game and even improve your skills before you hit the court. We have covered nearly all the common hand signals used in a table tennis match. Most of them are straightforward, but you can get a little mixed up if you watch both ping pong and regular tennis, as some of the gestures are used in both games. If you know ping pong’s rules well, you may not be as confused. As a beginner, make a point of familiarizing yourself with all the rules of the game to have an easier time on the court, either watching or playing.

References

1.
Ping Pong Doubles Rules
A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 21 points unless both players or pairs score 20 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points.
2.
How to play table tennis - Forehand TopSpin - ITTF Education
It is essential to have a good basic technique on which to build; if the foundations are not in place then trying to reach a higher level is virtually impossible. Furthermore, the more sophisticated and physically demanding sport becomes then totally impossible becomes the answer.
3.
No-Spin - Table Tennis Dictionary
No-Spin in the Table Tennis Dictionary. Look up all sorts of ping pong terminology.
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