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How to Play Table Tennis Alone

While you typically want to train with a coach or partner when it comes to ping-pong or table tennis, sometimes it’s just not possible. For the occasions when no one is free to play or you just want to get out there and practice, believe it or not, you can do so on your own. Right now, you may be wondering to yourself, ‘how can I train for table tennis on my own?’

How do you play table tennis alone? There are at least 7 different ways to practice or train for table tennis without a partner. These include using practice robots, hitting a ball against a wall or serving a ball into a saucer, among other things! Though these methods may not be as fun as playing with (or against) someone, they will help you improve your skill level in the absence of a coach or training partner.

playing table tennis alone

Now that you know it is possible to play table tennis alone let’s take a closer look at this in more detail below. We will discuss the various ways you can train on your own, so no matter what the circumstances are, you can continue to improve your overall game, even if it’s just you alone.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about training for table tennis without a coaching partner, then let’s get started!

Can You Play Table Tennis by Yourself?

Training for table tennis on your own may not be as fun as playing with a partner, but you can still increase your skill level and improve your game. Some ideas to consider include the following:

  1. Purchase a Practice Robot or Ball Machine

Training with a ball machine or practice robot is a great way to play table tennis independently. It is probably the best alternative to a real-life partner, but it is also quite expensive. The top models can cost up to $2,000 US.

However, you can purchase cheaper, possibly used ones for around $200 US that will serve the purpose as well.

By all intents and purposes, these machines are the best way to train for table tennis alone and are generally worth the money.

They are best suited for beginners rather than professionals, although elite players use them too. For example, the Robo-Pong from Newgy is used by Samson Dubina, a top-rated United States table tennis player that trains Olympic level athletes at his academy in Ohio.

Practice robots are perfect for improving basic technique, especially the looping backspin. The Butterfly Amicus Professional Table Tennis Robot comes highly-recommended. It can provide you with real-match scenarios where you’re given a serve that you are required to return. See below for more information on this model under the subheading: What is the Best Table Tennis Robot?

  1. Hit Balls against a Wall or Backboard

The second-best option for a table tennis robot is feeding balls to yourself. It involves you simply dropping the balls and then hitting them against a target. It isn’t as good an option as the robot for practicing on your own, but it gets the job done! One thing to keep in mind is to aim at the same spot on the wall consistently. Try using a low-stick painter’s tape as a marker to create the perfect target.

You can also place a folding table against the wall as you strike the ball, letting it bounce on the surface after each return. As you progress, increase the difficulty level by moving the table farther and farther away from the wall as you continue to aim at the pre-marked target.

Begin by dropping the balls on your forehand side and then strike with a forehand topspin against a wall or backboard. It helps you to improve both your coordination and control in the absence of a partner or opponent. Practicing alone in this manner will enable you to develop your rhythm over time and allow you to quickly and effectively play different stroke combinations.

  1. Practice Serving and Bouncing on Your Own

The serve is something you can always practice on your own. It is a critical component of the game and allows you to focus on using your wrist to generate a spin on the ball, improving overall performance. It can give you a massive advantage over your opponents by practicing the different serves and spin techniques.

All you need to do is buy a bucket of balls. Then, if you’ve got a table to practice on but no partner, do five minutes of service practice every day. You can even keep track of the serves you make or miss using cones or saucers as targets.

Another solo practice idea is to serve balls into the floor or carpet and watch how it spins off in different directions. It will help you learn how to manipulate the ball better. Even just spinning the ball in the air and catching it with your hand to get the feel of different spins is a good idea. Practice catching a bouncy rubber ball to strengthen your reflexes in between serves.

You can also bounce the ball on one side of the paddle to develop control and create a ‘feel’ for the bat on the ball. To make things more challenging, try hitting the ball on the side of the bat. Or, try bouncing it underneath your leg and then catching it!

  1. Practice Shadow Play

Shadow play is a great way to improve your stroke techniques. Find a mirror and do some shadow play in front of it, pretending that you are playing against a real-life opponent. Practice your forehand and backhand techniques and watch your form in the reflection.

If you don’t have a mirror, you can set up a video camera or your cell phone and record yourself. Then, watch the playback to see how you do. It is a great way to practice without a partner and develop your striking techniques.

  1. Engage in Physical Training

If you don’t have a partner to practice table tennis with, you can still engage in the physical training potion, which is necessary to build endurance and strength. Doing drills with ladders or mini-hurdles will help improve your speed and agility.

Foot drills, for example, are great for improving your speed and stamina. You can use cones or saucers to section off areas of the gym, court or even your basement and practice line drills such as backpedalling, sidestepping, sprinting and stopping.

  1. Watch the Professionals Play

If you don’t have a partner to practice with, watching others play the sport is an excellent solo activity. You can learn a lot from observing the pros in action. Study their movements and then go back to the table and practice them yourself. It is a great way to pick up a few tips and tricks from the masters!

Follow the professionals on the World Tour. Accomplished players emulate a sense of confidence in themselves and often use this as a strategy to outwit their opponents. They can teach you how to believe in yourself and your athletic ability. After all, immersing yourself completely in all aspects of the game is the best way to improve your overall performance.

  1. Engage in Mental Training

If you’re truly serious about excelling in table tennis, you have to include mental and physical training. Skills such as goal-setting, self-motivation, and visualization are crucial to maximizing your performance and can be done without a partner or coach.

Successful athletes in any sport choose and maintain a positive attitude, set high (yet realistic) goals, use positive mental imagery, engage in optimistic self-talk, manage anxiety efficiently and control their emotions. Do this, and you too can excel at table tennis, and in life!

What is the Best Table Tennis Robot?

Butterfly Amicus Professional Table Tennis Robot is available online through Amazon.com. It features adjustable spin, speed, and trajectory: wireless remote with on/off ball frequency controls; cycle mode options for creating pauses or breaks in exercise; individual frequency controls to adjust ball intervals; up to 8 shot pre-exercise with 99 different savable sequences.


In conclusion, there are at least 7 different ways to train for table tennis without a partner. You can use a practice robot, hit a ball against the wall or practice serving into a saucer, to name a few examples.

These methods may not be as fun as playing with (or against) someone. However, they will help you improve your skill level in the absence of a coach or training partner.

So, no more excuses, it’s time for some table tennis. Grab your ping-pong gear and get ready to play. Good luck!