How to Play Table Tennis (in 12 Simple Steps)

Are you interested in learning how to play table tennis? You’ve arrived at the right location!

How to Play Table Tennis in 10 Days is a fast-paced table tennis course that will teach you the fundamentals of table tennis technique in ten easy steps. It’s the quickest way for beginners to pick up table tennis.

I’ve coached thousands of beginners (literally)

Ben Larcombe

Hello, my name is Ben Larcombe.. I’m a London-based table tennis coach who has spent the last five years teaching beginners in schools, clubs, privately, and (very publicly) in public. The Expert in a Year Challenge.

Over the course of those five years, I’ve refined my coaching approach and broken down table tennis into its most basic components.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned from each one, and I’ve finally arrived at a point where I’m satisfied with my coaching system and ready to share it with the rest of the world.

Table tennis is a complicated sport, but it can be broken down into just a few key components at its most basic level. Concentrate solely on these and you’ll be a skilled table tennis player in no time (10 days, to be exact).

That’s not to say you’ll be an “expert” in ten days (if there’s one thing I’ve learned from you, it’s that). The Expert in a Year ChallengeIt’s just that mastery takes time), but you should be able to easily outperform your friends and family.

This is just the start. True mastery of table tennis takes many years, but you have to start somewhere, and I believe you should. How to Play Table Tennis in 10 Days is the best start you can have.



What are the fundamentals of table tennis?

Answering that question is difficult, and I’m sure different coaches have different perspectives, but I like to include the following (while ignoring everything else for the time being):

  1. Grip
  2. Stance
  3. Footwork
  4. Forehand Drive
  5. Backhand Drive
  6. Backhand Push
  7. Forehand Push
  8. Serve
  9. Return of serve
  10. Match Play

There are ten skills you must master, and I recommend that you do so in that order.

The first threeThis is what I like to refer to as the Mr Miyagi stage of learning. The foundations you need to lay at the start are (grip, stance, and footwork). Many players (and even coaches) ignore these and immediately begin hitting balls. You do so at your own risk! Weak foundations can cause your entire game to crumble or prevent you from continuing to build and improve in the future.

The middle four (forehand drive, backhand drive, backhand push, and forehand push) are all examples of forehand drives. the four basic table tennis strokesIf you want to develop consistency and accuracy with your shots, you’ll need to master the proper technique. and will account for the majority of your gameplay.

The final three(serve, return of serve, and match play) are the finishing touches that allow you to turn your newly acquired skills into points in a game. It doesn’t matter how good you are at rallying if you can’t transfer your skills to a competitive setting.

When I say ten days, I really mean ten days!

That’s a total of about 50 hours. Before you reach a good level of competency, I expect you to need at least 5 hours per skill. I’m afraid you’re wrong if you think an hour of practice will be enough to master each of these skills.

  • That, in my opinion, is the best way to learn. Over the course of two weeks (10 days), you could work for 5 hours per day. It’s like a table tennis crash course.
  • If you don’t have two weeks available, you can break it down into smaller chunks:
    • Over the course of ten weeks, one hour per day (5 hours per week) will be spent.
    • An hour a week over a year.

You’ll also need to find a partner, or a group of partners, with whom you can practice. Before you begin, consider the following. You need to make a plan for your 50 hours of training RIGHT NOW!

I wrote the following article to help you understand what to look for in a good table tennis bat: It can be difficult to choose a bat, and the big brands don’t make it any easier by putting professional players’ faces on bats that are completely useless. Last but not least, you’ll need to purchase a table tennis bat. The Best Table Tennis Bat for Beginners.

After you’ve sorted out all of that, it’s time to start training…

Day 1 – Grip

The correct grip is the first fundamental table tennis skill to master. Shakehands and penhold are the two most common grips in table tennis.

Even in China, there are still penhold players at the top of the world rankings (Xu Xin), but the style appears to be dwindling in popularity. The penhold grip is an Asian grip in which the bat is held between the thumb and index finger like a pen. The penhold grip has some benefits (it allows for more wrist movement and thus more spin), but it is more difficult to master. Penhold players must either master the tricky reverse penhold backhand stroke or use one side of the bat for forehand and backhand.

The shakehands grip is a traditional European grip that is becoming increasingly popular among Asian players. I’ve been using the shakehands grip since I first started playing table tennis over 15 years ago, and I’ll be teaching it to others.

The shakehands grip has many minor variations, and everyone holds the bat slightly differently. During the beginning of 2015, I spent ten weeks experimenting with my grip and created the video below.

That video has gotten a lot of positive feedback, and it provides a much better explanation of my current grip thoughts than anything else I’ve written.

my original blog post (which I wrote in 2013).

I’m thinking of calling this grip the’relaxed shakehands grip,’ because I believe it differs significantly from the shakehands grip I used for the first 15 years of my professional career. It’s not that my old grip was inherently incorrect (after all, no coaches ever corrected it), but I believe that the relaxed shakehands grip has a number of advantages that make it better suited to today’s game of table tennis.

With your shakehands grip, practice bouncing and controlling the ball. I recommend that you devote some time to perfecting your own relaxed shakehands grip. You can do a variety of coordination drills to improve your ball control while also helping your brain remember your grip. You’ll want to get used to it before moving on to playing shots.

The only link between your body and your bat is your grip. It’s worth it to get it right the first time!

Additional help with your grip…

Table Tennis Universityis a fantastic online table tennis coaching resource. They have two FREE video courses for new table tennis players, both of which cover grip.

The course includes 12 coaching videos that cover all of the fundamentals. In addition to Coach Li’s demonstrations, a young beginner student is instructed in the Basics Mastery course (which is normally worth $97).

Lesson #1 To get access to the content, sign up for a free account at Table Tennis University and then enroll in the Basics Mastery course. is an 8-minute video that explains how to hold your racket properly.

It’s appropriate for both newcomers and seasoned players who want to brush up on their skills. This course will teach you the fundamental skills and techniques required to play table tennis.

Lecture #2is a 7-minute video that focuses on how to develop the proper grip. To gain access, simply register as a free member of Table Tennis University and then enroll in the Table Tennis For Beginners course.

Day 2 – Stance

I failed miserably at teaching stance to my students. It’s critical to get your stance right before you start hitting balls. Sam.. I basically let him stand however he wanted for the first month, and he developed a slew of bad habits that he had to work hard to break later.

That means you want your center of gravity to be as low as realistically possible, and your feet should be at least 1.5 shoulder widths apart, if not more. Standing and moving around in this position can be exhausting; it’s much easier and more comfortable to stand bolt upright with your feet closer together, but you must develop the strength to maintain this position. Low and wide are the two most important aspects of a good stance.

Ryan Jenkins demonstrates the basic stance in this video.

The ready position is the standard stance for a player receiving serve: feet wide apart, knees bent, body crouched, both arms out in front of you, bat in neutral position. The ‘ready position’ is another term you may have heard. The terms stance and ready position are frequently interchanged.

In table tennis, it’s crucial to have a relaxed stance (in fact, it’s crucial to have a relaxed everything). Leg muscles that are more engaged and ready to move will be required. Relax your upper body muscles and let your arms and shoulders hang forward like a gorilla!

Allow your upper body to naturally drop down as you exhale. Maintain your stance and participate in some activities from then on. Your center of gravity should sink, your balance should improve, and your core should become more solid. Inhale deeply, inflate your lungs, and then exhale completely. Deep breathing (breathing from your stomach) is one way to achieve this.

belly breathingThis will help you stay calm and relaxed.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of stance, you can put your skills to the test with some balance and agility drills. In your new stance, you could even practice ball control skills (for example, hitting a ball against a wall while remaining low and relaxed). Playing one-on-one catch games with a partner with a table tennis ball is a great way to keep practicing your new stance.

Here’s a previous article I wrote on stance and the ready position.

Additional help with your stance…

Tom Lodziak’s Table Tennis For Beginners The topic of stance is covered in this course, which is available for free at TableTennisUniversity!

Lecture #3To gain access, simply register as a free member of Table Tennis University and then enroll in the Table Tennis For Beginners course. is a 7-minute video that focuses on how to develop the proper grip.

Day 3 – Footwork

To me, this appears to be a bad idea. Before you start hitting balls, the last thing you need to think about is your footwork. Table tennis is a high-intensity sport in which you must play shots and then move. Many players are taught all of the strokes first, from a stationary position, before adding footwork and movement later.

In boxing, punching is obviously crucial, but so is footwork. The two complement each other. They don’t start by punching flat-footed from a standing position and then try to incorporate footwork after they’ve mastered the punches. I believe we would benefit greatly from taking a page from boxing’s training methods. As a result, even novice boxers are taught footwork in addition to basic punches. Both are required and are inextricably linked.

This is because you usually don’t have to move very far; all you have to do is make minor adjustments with your feet. The footwork of table tennis players is quite unusual. You can see what I mean in the video below of Wang Wen Jie (coach of the Swedish club Askims BTK).

That is why you have an entire day to practice this style of footwork. This will feel strange at first because few other activities require this level of movement.

You can then progress to faster footwork patterns or attempting to cover large distances with a single step. If you’re going to make a lot of quick changes of direction, you should focus on getting comfortable with side-step footwork first. If you have a table tennis table, you can practice this by going in circles around it.

It takes a lot of effort to move like this! Table tennis is a fast-paced sport, and you’ll notice that all of the top players have massive legs.

I recommend keeping your bat in your hand while practicing your footwork and remembering to maintain a relaxed, low stance. This will help you maintain your balance while moving, making the practice more realistic to the experience of playing table tennis.

Additional help with your footwork…

Tao Li’s

Basics Mastery course (available for FREE at TableTennisUniversity.comThat can be found. ) includes a 9-minute training video on how to do the side shuffle. here.

Also, Lecture #4 of Tom Lodziak’s Table Tennis For Beginners This course focuses on teaching the fundamental movement techniques required for table tennis.

Day 4 – Forehand Drive

You’re going to pick it up. I understand how tempting it is to skip the first three days and jump right into playing, but I strongly advise against it. It’s finally time to get some balls in the air! the four basic table tennis strokes After three days of practicing your grip, stance, and footwork, you’ll be a lot faster.

Back in 2012, I wrote the blog post Table Tennis: How to Play a Forehand DriveIt has received over 25,000 views since then. The technique I teach now is nearly identical to the technique I taught in 2012. Also, nothing has changed. ..

Don’t get carried away and try to play too quickly or hit the ball too hard. The key is to concentrate on accuracy, consistency, and control. This will be repeated several times throughout the course. Consistency is king when you’re first starting out.

This is an excellent video. Coach Tao Li demonstrates the majority of the stroke’s fundamentals in this video. Lesson #3 taken from Tao’s FREE 12-part “Basics Mastery” table tennis training course!

Your forehand drive should feel natural and unforced. You’ll end up playing like a robot if you’re consciously thinking about your technique and which parts of your body should be moving. My one piece of advice is to not overthink this stroke when learning it.

Quantity is the key. You must rally, rally, and rally some more. When you reach that point, you know the stroke has started to work its way into your subconscious. After five hours, you should be quite comfortable with the forehand drive. Your goal should be to make 100 consecutive controlled shots without making a mistake.

Additional help with your forehand drive…

I’d suggest checking out for a slightly different perspective. Tao’s forehand drive instruction has already been seen.

Lecture #5 of Tom Lodziak’s Table Tennis For Beginners course.

Day 5 – Backhand Drive

Some people find learning the backhand drive Others have a harder time with it. It’s not surprising because the technique is so different. The backhand drive is easier than the forehand drive.

You want to develop a controlled, consistent, and accurate stroke. Aim for the 100-shot target and try to become as comfortable and natural with the technique as possible. The principle, on the other hand, is the same.

Ma Long (the current world #1) demonstrates his backhand drive technique in this video. Both are worth watching, but if you only want to see the backhand drive, start at 4:09. The forehand and backhand drives are shown in the video.

Ma Long is a great example of how to execute these drive strokes perfectly.

For a backhand, many players place their thumb slightly higher on the rubber to give the stroke more stability. Ma Long may have remarked on his use of the thumb on the backhand. One of the reasons I prefer the relaxed shakehands grip (from Day 1) is the ability to use your thumb on the backhand thanks to the slight pinch technique between the thumb and index finger.

While Ma Long’s thumb position varies slightly between forehand and backhand strokes, his grip remains largely unchanged. You don’t want a big grip change between your forehand and backhand strokes, though. While you can get away with it in practice and rallying, it will hold you back in a match.

Check out my blog post for more information.

How to Play a Backhand Drive.

Once you’ve mastered the backhand drive technique, you should try combining the forehand and backhand strokes in both regular drills (one forehand followed by one backhand, for example) and random/irregular play.

Additional help with your backhand drive…

Tao Li’s Basics Mastery course (available for FREE at TableTennisUniversity.comI strongly advise you to watch them! Two lessons are dedicated to teaching the backhand drive technique.

Also, Lecture #6 of Tom Lodziak’s Table Tennis For Beginners The course includes an 8-minute video that delves into the backhand drive in depth.

Day 6 – Backhand Push

It’s time to work on the forehand and backhand push (your backspin strokes) once you’ve mastered the forehand and backhand drive (your topspin strokes). You must be able to play both topspin and backspin tennis. Many casual players can only do one of these things.

I like to start with the backhand push You should be able to pick it up quickly and be able to complete long rallies almost immediately. To begin with, it is a much simpler stroke to learn.

Here is a video (Lecture #7) from Tom Lodziak’s Table Tennis for Beginners The main coaching points of the backhand push are outlined in this course.

For a more in-depth look at the backhand push’s coaching points and common blunders, see

click here.

Attempt to arrive at a point where You’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: control, consistency, and accuracy are essential. You have the impression that you could play backhand pushes indefinitely. without ever making a mistake.

This necessitates opening up your bat angle, getting right underneath the ball, and brushing it with a fine contact while accelerating your wrists. Most players can push, but only a select few can do so with heavy backspin. It’s time to start thinking about increasing the amount of backspin on your pushes once you’ve reached that point.

Playing push-to-push with a partner while trying to put so much backspin on the ball that the other person pushes into the net is a fun game to play.

Advanced players will try to keep their pushes as short as possible (or occasionally dig them deep into the end line), but for now, the best use of your time is learning how to generate heavy backspin and maintain a high level of consistency.

You will find it much easier to develop a strong backspin push if you have a strong backspin push. heavy backspin serve.

Day 7 – Forehand Push

The forehand pushThe backhand push technique appears to be more compatible with our arm and elbow than the forehand push. is the most challenging of the four basic strokes to master. It’s just an unnatural and awkward motion.

You’ll have to play a forehand push if you receive a backspin ball to your wide forehand… so you’d better be able to! A backhand push to a ball in the middle of the table, and even slightly in the forehand half, is still possible. Up to 75% of the time, you’ll find it easier and more convenient to play a backhand push.

Stefan Feth (Head Coach at the World Champions Table Tennis Academy in California and former German national team player) gives a demonstration.

If you can push like this, instead of just keeping the ball on the table, you’re turning your push into a weapon (especially at the lower levels of play). Stefan’s emphasis on making the push spinny, low, fast, and long is admirable.

In reality, your bat won’t be completely horizontal, but it should feel that way in your head when you’re playing a good push. Many beginners make the error of hitting the ball down the back rather than underneath it. He also talks about making contact at 6 o’clock, which means that if you want to generate maximum spin, you should try to get completely underneath the ball.

If you’re tempted to skip this because it’s difficult, don’t. If you’re still having trouble, try watching a player who has a strong forehand push. Before you start to get the hang of the forehand push, you’ll need a lot of practice. Continue on! It’s difficult to explain how to push properly, but simply watching can teach you a lot.

Once you’ve mastered the four basic strokes, you’re ready to move on to the next stage of training. Once you’ve mastered it, take some time to combine the two push shots in both a regular and random manner.

Additional help with your forehand push…

Lecture #8

 of Tom Lodziak’s Table Tennis For Beginners It’s a difficult stroke to master, so watch as many instructional videos as you can. The course includes an 8-minute video that demonstrates how to properly play a forehand push.

Day 8 – Serve

There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you serve the same way every time, you’ll become predictable. The majority of beginners use a simple serve with little or no spin and a little topspin.

In table tennis, there are many different types of serves, some of which are quite complex. Some people prefer one side to the other. You can also choose to serve with your forehand, backhand, or a combination of the two. At this point, you don’t have to be concerned about the majority of them.

The word “super” has been added to emphasize what is most important. I believe that developing a super heavy backspin serve and a super fast serve is your best bet. Your backspin serve should have the most spin possible, and your fast serve should be as quick as possible.

Here are a few articles that will assist you in mastering these serves…

The ‘ghost serve’ is a type of heavy backspin serve in which the ball has so much backspin that it actually bounces into the net. You don’t have to worry about it right now, but the principle of creating a lot of backspin is useful.

However, you want to try to do something similar with your heavy backspin serve, so copying the first one is a good idea. The ball stayed low and had a lot of backspin on it. A video of a young player attempting the ghost serve can be found below. Because it only bounces twice before dropping off the end of the table, this first serve isn’t a “ghost serve.”

They’ll start pushing that serve back if they’ve played some table tennis (or figured out how to return it). That’s fine. Then you can enter a pushing rally and out-push them with your consistency, placement, and variety. An inexperienced opponent will almost certainly put the ball in the net if you serve like that.

And here’s an example of Japanese wonderkid Asuka Sakai’s fastest ever table tennis serve.

While you don’t have to try to copy Asuka’s technique, you should pay attention to her.

  1. Before making contact, allowing the ball to fall very close to table height.
  2. On his side of the table, he is hitting the ball very close to the end line.

You won’t be able to serve as quickly as Asuka Sakai (who has spent years honing her serve), but if you master those two points, you’ll be able to catch out the majority of recreational players and beginners. Especially if you’re mixing up your serves, with some fast and others with a lot of backspin. These are two key ingredients in the recipe for a super-quick meal.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel 100% confident with these two serves yet; you’ll be able to continue working on them on days 9 and 10.

Additional help with your serves…

Tao Li has a brilliant premium course called

Service Mastery

available for $47 at Table Tennis University. It teaches the following advanced service techniques;

  1. Forehand serve
  2. Backhand serve
  3. Forehand pendulum serve
  4. Forehand reverse pendulum serve
  5. Forehand and backhand tomahawk serve
  6. High toss serve

The serve is the most important shot in table tennis, and this training course will teach you everything you need to know to master it quickly. Take a look. here.

Day 9 – Return of Serve

Returning serves can be a difficult task. There are a plethora of spin, speed, and placement combinations that can cause serves to behave in a variety of ways.

It’s usually their weakest point, filling them with dread and indecision. This is why most beginners and intermediate players have a difficult time returning serves. When receiving a serve, you must try to figure out what type of serve your opponent is throwing, track the placement of the serve, adjust your positioning, choose the best possible shot to return the serve, and then successfully execute your return.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

You must push the serve back if it has been given backspin. If they’ve used topspin on the serve, you’ll need to return it. It all comes down to’reading’ the ball’s spin. You’ll be able to determine which shot you’ll need to return it once you know that. The most crucial aspect of returning a serve is determining the type of spin on the ball. That’s all there is to it.

But what about sidespin?

If at all possible, try to drive your opponent’s serve. You can usually get away with driving a sidespin serve the same way you would a topspin serve. Aim for the center line, and the ball should land on the table even with a lot of sidespin. Only if you notice the serve is backspin should you consider pushing it. This is a more aggressive stroke that will put you in a better rally position.

Only as you advance and start to face stronger opponents will you need to learn more about reading and returning different types of spin as well as adjusting your strokes. Most players at the beginner level don’t get much spin on their serves. This makes it much easier to get them back.

Day 10 – Match Play

It’s now time to put everything together and play a match. Here’s what I propose as a basic strategy:

  • 50 percent fast and 50 percent heavy backspin should be served.
  • Return = Unless the ball has backspin, you should try to play a drive stroke.
  • Rallying = Drive the ball if it has topspin. Push the ball if it has backspin.
  • Winning points = Out-rallying your opponent should account for the majority of your points.

Spend your final day (or five hours) in matches experimenting with different strategies and determining how you prefer to play. However, we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and it would be foolish not to adjust your strategy to account for these differences.

  • Do you prefer to serve or receive? Why?
  • Are you better at drives or pushes?
  • Do you prefer to use your forehand or backhand?
  • Is your footwork and positioning a strength or a weakness for you?

You can tweak my basic strategy and come up with your own tactics once you have a good understanding of your abilities.

However, serving heavy backspin on occasion is still beneficial. If you serve heavy backspin, you’ll almost certainly end up in a pushing rally, which isn’t ideal if you’re not a strong pusher. If you’re better at driving than pushing, for example, you might serve 75% super fast and 25% heavy backspin.

When serving quickly, you should avoid serving wide to your opponent’s backhand, as their most likely return will be into your backhand. Alternatively, if your forehand is significantly stronger than your backhand, you may want to reconsider your placement. When rallying, you can aim more into your opponent’s forehand, preventing them from attacking your wide backhand.

At this stage, it’s not worth risking risky shots or attempting to play strokes that turn backspin into topspin because you’ll make so many unforced errors that your opponent will profit from your mistakes. There are a plethora of complex match strategies and tactics available online, but I would advise you to avoid them until you are comfortable with the fundamentals and can consistently outperform the majority of other beginners.

Concentrate your efforts on improving your consistency and placement so that you can profit from other people’s mistakes.

What Next?

Firstly… Congratulations!

You’re still far from being an “expert,” but you should be able to beat almost any non-table tennis player you come across. You’ll be able to play competitive table tennis once you’ve mastered those ten fundamental aspects of the game.

The next step for you is to;

  1. Continue to hone these ten fundamental abilities (complete mastery can take years).
  2. Continue on to more advanced table tennis strokes.

Introducing… Table Tennis University!

If you enjoyed it and found it useful, I would highly recommend it once you’ve finished it. I hope you were able to sign up for Tao Li’s Basics Mastery course for free. Tao’s comprehensive Table Tennis University course.

It was designed to naturally follow on from the fundamental lessons, and it covers everything you need to know to become an elite, well-respected table tennis player in the shortest amount of time!

table tennis university sales (1)

You’re nowhere near where you could be if you’ve been doing this on your own. You’re wasting time and, more importantly, developing bad habits.

You’ll need specific instructions on what to practice and how to practice, as well as what you should and, more importantly, shouldn’t do. To learn the ropes, you’ll need a highly qualified instructor.

You’ll be given a road map to follow in these professionally recorded HD videos that will ensure your success.

Using It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before or if you’ve been playing for a long time. Table Tennis University As your guide, you’ll be fully equipped with all the tactics and strategies you need to take your game to new heights you never imagined possible.

You’ll know you’ve made the right choice if you’re serious about becoming a top table tennis player. Enroll TODAY!

You can contact me by phone or email. I’d be delighted to hear from you and to answer any additional questions you might have. If you’ve found this information useful and have used it in your training, please send me an email and let me know how it went. ben [at]

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