Getting Started With Table Tennis (A Beginner’s Guide)

There are different levels of playing table tennis.

At a certain level , it is okay to worry about your spins and loops while at other levels, all you need to focus on is your handling of the paddle, your foot work, as well as your hand to eye coordination among other things.

As a beginner, there is so much distraction in form of skills you would love to have, such as spins and loops. However, it is best if you get familiar with the boring basics first and then gradually drift into those interesting parts.

The areas you need to focus on in order to ease your transition into being a professional player are explicitly contained in this guide.

A Beginner’s Guide To Table Tennis

1). Get Familiar with the Rules


Contrary to how most players master this part, it is important to get familiar with the rules even before you begin proper training for tennis playing. Without this, you might lose a lot of game points out of frustration. The rules help you draw fine boundaries to what is perceived as a foul and how to work your way around them. See our comprehensive list of table tennis rules.

2). Master Your Grips :


This is the first step to practical table tennis training. In this part, you learn how to properly hold the paddle while playing. The proper way to hold the paddle is explained thus;

  1. Your thumb needs to be on the forehand side of the paddle, facing your opponent when you’re using the forehand stroke. It specifically has to be on the area between the rubber and the handle.
  2. Your index finger on the other hand, needs to stay on the back side of the paddle, in the bottom part of the rubber precisely. It will face your opponent whenever you’re using the backhand stroke.
  • The remaining fingers should be firmly wrapped round the handle. Also, the grip has to be firm enough to keep the paddle pivoted to your hand and loose enough that it does not strain your muscles and affect your play after a while.

There are several grips for table tennis play and they all conform to this arrangement. However, it’s best to go through them all to know the ones that fit your handling the best.

3) Learn Your Starting Position :

The starting position is also known as the ready position and must be your default position every time you start a new game or immediately after striking the ball to your opponent. According to ITTF rules, you need to be at least 15 cm away from the table in order to avoid making contact with it – which is technically a foul.

This position helps the player to be prepared for which ever challenge coming towards him or her. Your legs have to be slightly spread out for stability while your waist line is flexible and your feet ready for movements left, right and diagonally.

  1. Stand on your backhand side of the table. This means that if you’re left handed, you need stand towards the right side and vice versa. Also, your left foot must slightly be behind your right foot if you’re left-handed, the vice versa for right handed players. Thus positioning helps you maintain balance before and after every stroke of the ball.
  2. In order to equally distribute your weight while you play, you need to raise your ankles and bounce from one spot to another. That makes you light on your feet and allows you move quicker around the table. Also, bend your knees slightly and lean forwards. This helps you move more quickly, find your balance and switch to more convenient positions faster.
  • Most importantly, your arms need to be in front of your body, especially your playing hand and parallel to the ground for your body to reach the ball more quickly. The other hand has to be out of the way as soon as the game is in play in order to avoid mishaps.


Image : Wang Liqin



4). Shadow Exercises :

Shadow exercises help with your footwork for different strokes. It is advisable that as a beginner, you do at least 80 repetitions for the different strokes at the start of your training sessions, depending on how serious you are. The three major focuses should be your strokes, the contact point and most importantly, the follow-through after each stroke.

You need to practice these three categories for the different strokes while handling your paddle well enough as previously explained.



Building a good foundation is very important to your play in both long and short term. Therefore, having familiarized yourself with these steps, be sure to put them into practice at your training sessions.

Hey! , I am Roland Campbell , a table tennis player for over 5 years and counting. I do a lot of research on table tennis (Ping Pong) and publish my findings here at Pingthatpong.

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