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Anticipation and proper footwork is the key to being in a balanced position to stroke the ping pong ball in table tennis.
The best table tennis players are not able to defend the entire ping pong table; therefore you must anticipate which of the three possible areas your opponent has selected to return your ball: your forehand, backhand, or your center court. The following information will enable you to be in position to defend 1/3 of the table instead of trying to defend the entire table.
Key #1 Primary position-start moving to a position opposite where your ball lands in your opponent’s court before/or as your ball lands.
Key #2 The Secondary positions- adjust your secondary position based on what you see. Watch the direction of your opponent’s stroke to the ball and their blade angle.
At the completion of your stroke start moving to your primary position before your ball lands in your opponent’s court. Your primary position is opposite the position your ball landed in your opponent’s court. Then your final move is to your secondary position to return the ball from a balanced position to stroke the ball to your selected target. The secondary position is determined by your opponent’s stroke direction to the ball and their blade angle.
Watching your opponent’s blade direction of travel to the ball will indicate which part of the table – forehand, backhand or center court – their ball will land in, and the angle of his blade will determine the applied spin or hit. Now with this information start moving to your anticipated secondary area before your opponent contacts the ball. In order to maintain balance and control, you must make the final adjustment with your feet.
Remember: Improve your anticipation for better footwork in table tennis (MSH) Move, Stop and Hit.
Carl Hardin – USATT Certifiied Coach