One of the hardest things to improve is your table tennis ball placement. I think most of us see the top player hitting the ball hard, its visually pleasing and we want to emulate them. I was the same, always looking to hit the ball 100 miles per hour irrelevant of what the ball received!
Your form does not predict results:
I was 18 years old and playing some of the best table tennis of my short. I had worked my way up the Grand Prix circuit winning every band and at Bath Grand Prix I was in Band 1. I was in good form going through the rounds. Players included Craig Bryant, Victor Guang and other top England players, in my path towards the final. In the final, I faced England no.67 at the time. I was on firebombing shout from both wings and felt I would wipe the floor with whoever came my way. Oh, how wrong I would prove myself to be!
I lost 3-0 and before I had a chance to realise what had happened my first band 1 final was over and done with! Everyone who watched the final was shocked, as to how badly I got beaten (3-0).
Try to Learn from your experience
At the time I just took it on the chin and admitted to myself that he was better on that occasion. I continued playing my usual game, of trying to hit every ball hard. A few years down the line after becoming a coach I reflected on that loss. Then it hit me, that player put the ball in places where I was unbalanced making it hard for me to unleash my bombs. He did not possess power shots like me but instead, he had fantastic ball variation, deception and placement. Today I have learnt to adopt that skill alongside power when the opportunity arises.
How did I improve my placement?
1. Putting targets on the table when doing exercises, for example, a piece of paper and then folding it in half every time you hit it. Or to spice things up you can place chess pieces and attempt to hit targets but alongside a thought process e.g. knock the king down and you win the match.
2. Table restriction put a small towel in a certain area of the table. Or as shown (Picture) put barriers in play to restrict the angles or open the angles for one person but not the other.
3. Watching the opponent and placing the ball into their crossover section or using the angles, depending on where they are standing.
I have placed some pictures and videos (click here).
Good ball placement in Table Tennis
When you learn to place the ball where you wish it to go. You will often hear players saying, “you make me feel uncomfortable and I don’t know exactly what you’re doing?!
Another Tip, take two pieces of paper one on each side. Both players must attempt to hit the opponents paper. When you hit the paper it must be folded in half, making your target smaller and harder to hit. You can increase the difficulty by varying the location of the paper after each hit.
Table Tennis Angles
Focus on the angles given, you have a right and left-hand triangle angle. For example, if you’re hitting the ball from the right-hand side (your side) you have a wide angle to the left-hand side.
Deep ball placement
A deep ball means towards the end/edge of the table which can also be seen as good ball placement. When knocking up watch where your balls are landing. Notice if they land short and if so amend your shots accordingly.
Placement can be just as powerful if not better than hitting the ball hard…