Many players are having good table tennis strokes but they cannot execute them well as their movement is not good. Well, let’s discuss something on how to improve your overall footwork so that you can improve your skill and play a better game.
When playing table tennis footwork and getting into position before the ball comes to you is crucial. I will give you some steps that helped me and my students to improve a lot, only with 2-3 training sessions.
1. Always play as if the ball will come back no matter what. This way you will always get back to your ready position after you have finished your stroke/serve/receive.
2.Open your legs 2 X shoulder width (this is not a general rule for everyone find the opening that suits you) approximately and sit on an imaginary chair bending your knees and then stand on your toes. Your core must lean forward so that your whole (at least most of it)bodyweight will be controlled by your quadriceps. This way you can start jumping around WITH BALANCE (balance is very important so that you wont be out of position after a stroke).
Check these videos for more information:
And also don’t miss out all of these videos named “Chinese Footwork part 1,2,3,4,5,6”.
Start with Simple Exercise
If you want to improve then choose a simple exercise, 2 FH for example (one in the middle and one in your wide FH) and try to execute 10 perfect FH topspins. Then go for 15, 20, 30, and so on. Another good exercise is to receive on your short FH side and then go back fast waiting either for a BH or FH loop and then play the rally or execute the previous exercise.
Remember, if you dont keep the ball on the table with perfectly executed footwork you will never improve. You must be totally focused on your weight being on your quadriceps and use little jumps on your toes. Executing the stroke is easy, executing 15 perfect strokes with good footwork is a much more challenging task.
The 3 and 4 Ball Falkenberg Drill will help to develop your Footwork, Balance, and Movement to the Ball to Return. There is a very good video of Danish Player Mie Skov doing this drill with her coach and you can watch it on You Tube to get an idea of how and why this works so well. Google Mie Skov Falkenberg Drill and it will come up.
You can set this Drill up on a Robot or have a coach or training partner feed you Multi-Ball as in the Video.
For 3-Ball Falkenberg – these are all against Tospsin Balls and would be a good starting point to help develop your footwork.
Ball 1 Backhand vs a Topspin Ball, Ball 2 Forehand vs a Top Spin Ball – Step Around and hit with your Forehand Drive, Ball 3 vs a Tops Spin Ball – side-step and hit with your Forehand Drive. Back to ready Positon for the next Backhand. Do for One Minute and Drink Water and rest in-between for a total of 3 Drills starting out.
Later after you are used to doing the 3 ball Falkenberg drill, you can try this one next.
The 4-Ball Falkenberg just adds an additional Backspin Ball at Ball Number 3 and it goes like this.
Ball 1 – BH vs Topspin, Ball 2 – FH vs Topspin, Ball 3 FH Slow-Loop vs Backspin. Ball 4 – FH Smash vs Topspin.
Ball 1 – hit with your Backhand, Ball 2 – Step Around and hit with your Forehand Drive, Ball 3 is against a BACKSPIN ball. Side step to the ball and Brush UP on the Ball to Loop-Spin it over the Net. Ball 4 is Top Spin so use your Forehand Drive to Smash the Ball for a point. Back to the ready position for he next Backhand Ball #1.
This Drill teach you how move between balls and how to change your racket angle between Balls 3 and Ball 4. For Ball 3 you hit with a Slow Loop – you need to use a 90% Racket Angle to Brush UP on the Ball to create a lot of Top Spin to get the ball over the net. The Next Ball – Ball #4 comes back with Top Spin, and you need to be ready to kill this ball. So change your racket angle down to 45% and Hit Forward and Up for a Forehand Drive/Smash to kill the point. This drill simulates a game volley point ending situation well.
Remember to Keep your Center of Gravity LOW. Bend your knees and Legs and remember to keep your balance as your move back and forth to the ball. This takes a few times, but you will get better after each session of drills over a few weeks, and months.
For both Drills just be sure start out slow and easy, and don’t over do it. A little goes a long way with these drills towards improving your footwork. So 1 minute each with 3 drills total is a good starting point. Doing this will have you breathing pretty hard at first, and your legs will definitely feel it afterwords too. Just be sure not to over do it at first, and take a break in between drills to have some water, and catch your breath. So please give this a try, they are a lot of fun too.
Classic Coached Footwork
Classic coached footwork is small skipping steps.
Feet just a bit wider than shoulders.
For RH players:- If moving to the right move L foot first. If moving to left move R foot first. IE The trailing foot first.
A technique called the ‘heavy left foot’ is good for attacking balls from the FH side. Moving to R move R foot ( leading foot ) first, rotate hips, plant L foot heavy, execute shot & then R foot comes forward to stop hip rotation. R foot should end up behind L foot with feet apart at shoulder width. See Richard Prause & Dirk Wagner teaching this technique to William Herzell on ttEDGE video clips.
Of course, underpinning all of this is to ‘anticipate and move early’. Read opponents body language and bat and try to anticipate the shot he intends to make before he hits the ball. Not Easy, instinctive.
Frank from USA.