The Attacking Mindset in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

If you are an offensive table tennis player, there are two aspects of the game that you need to master.

The first aspect is - Creating the opportunity to attack first.  I hear many table tennis club players telling themselves throughout the night, “Just use your attack!”  Well that sounds nice, but how are you going to create the opportunity.  There are several ways.

  1. Try to loop long serves
  2. Try to loop half-long serves
  3. Try to serve short and push short so that your opponent can’t easily loop first
  4. Try to loop most of the long pushes
  5. Try to loop most of the flips

After you make the opening attack, try to continue attacking by following up with another ball and another ball.  Against a good table tennis player, it will likely take 3-4 strong attacks to win the point.

The second aspect is - Being consistent in your attack.  Even if you can create the opportunity to attack, that doesn’t mean that you will win; that merely means that you have the ability to attack.  Your target should be to make 80-90% of your attacks on with both your backhand and your forehand.  If you are making 100% of your opening attacks on and still losing, then you possibly need to give more spin variation, speed variation, and placement variation.  If you are inconsistent on your attacks, then consider adjusting your technique in the following ways.

  1. Try to move into position better
  2. Try to read the amount of spin that your opponent is giving you
  3. Try to adjust the height of your backswing based on the spin and based on the height of the ball
  4. Try to adjust the length of your swing based on the speed of the ball
  5. Try to adjust your racket angle based on the spin on the ball
  6. Try to focus on spin as your primary weapon and use speed as your secondary weapon

You should significantly see your attacking game improve if you focus on these key areas. Good luck!

Samson Dubina



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Concentration in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

I have a little homework assignment for you.  Stand two feet away from a 5-gallon bucket and toss a penny into the bucket.  Easy, right?  Now stand two feet away from a gallon of milk (with the lid off) and toss a penny into the milk container.  This requires more aiming and more focus, right?

The same is true in regards to your table tennis game.  The amount of concentration that most table tennis players use is directly related to the task at hand.  A very spinny push to your middle might require some fancy footwork and some good concentration to successfully loop.  A sidespin counter loop wide to your forehand might require perfect timing and good concentration to counter loop back around the net.  Everyone puts good concentration on these difficult shots.  HOWEVER, many players lose focus on “easy balls” like a short high-ball that could easily be smashed for a winner.  As soon as they lose 5% of their focus then these players usually don’t move well, become sloppy, lose their spin, miss the “easy ball”, and then become frustrated.  Approach these “easy balls” as being difficult balls.  Approach these balls with 100% concentration.

The same mental flaw is true in regards to playing lower level table tennis opponents.  The amount of concentration that most players use is directly related to the task at hand.  Even when playing lower-rated opponents, bring out your best game with 100% focus and you will have no regrets in your table tennis matches.

Samson Dubina

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Looping Serves in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

Looping serves in table tennis is a bit more challenging than many players imagine.  However, if you follow the right thought process and use the right technique, then you will be on your way to major improvement.

Ways to improve your looping serve in table tennis:

  1. Watch your opponent’s positioning at the table and body language to possibly see if they will serve short or long.
  2. Next, watch their backswing, contact point, and where the ball contacts their side of the table.  At this point, you need to start adjusting your feet while keeping your hand in front.
  3. Next, watch as the ball contacts your side of the table.  If it hits in the first half (near the net), then it will likely be short and you need to adjust in with your legs, upper body, and racket.  If it hits in the back half of the table, then it will likely be long enough to loop.  These balls will vary based on spin as well.
  4. Next, if the serve is half-long, then prepare to loop by keeping your knees bent, adjusting near the table with your body, and shortening your backswing while starting at the appropriate height and angle.  If it is heavy backspin, then start lower and open your angle.  If it is no-spin, then start higher and close your angle slightly.  If the serve is fast and long, then give yourself plenty of space from the table, start at the appropriate height, let the ball come back, then spin the ball.
  5. Next, focus on spinning the ball with good placement.  The more spin that you are able to create when looping this serve, the easier it will be to control the ball.  Without applying enough spin, your opponent’s spin with bite into your rubber and cause more errors.  Generally, you should loop the half-long balls with about 30-60% power and you should loop the deep serves with about 50-80% power.

Avoid the following mistakes with your looping serve in table tennis:

  1. Neglecting to watch your opponent’s racket
  2. Neglecting to move your feet based on the opponent’s racket angle and incoming ball
  3. Neglecting to adjust your racket starting position based on the opponent’s spin
  4. Neglecting to make a secondary adjustment with your feet
  5. Neglecting to apply enough spin to the ball

Samson Dubina

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Strive for Dexterity in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

Every table tennis player should strive for dexterity.  This is a skill that some players are naturally more gifted with and some players are not.  The good news is that it can be trained as well.  So what is dexterity?

Dictionary Definition of “Dexterity”
noun \dek-ˈster-ə-tē, -ˈste-rə-\
: the ability to use your hands skillfully
: the ability to easily move in a way that is graceful
: clever skill : the ability to think and act quickly and cleverly
In regards to table tennis, dexterity can mean several different things.  It can mean…
  1. Having the ability to learn a new stroke
  2. Having the ability to relax even while swinging hard
  3. Having the ability to be extremely precise and accurate
  4. Having the ability to put impart speed and spin on the ball with very little effort
  5. Having the ability to adjust the stroke for various types of balls

I will focus on the fifth type of dexterity in table tennis.

Dexterity is the ability to adjust to various aspects of the ping pong ball – adjust to the speed of the ball, adjust to the placement of the ball, adjust to the depth of the ball, adjust to the height of the ball and adjust to the spin on the ball.  I will use the forehand loop as my example.

In order to develop more dexterity in your forehand loop, you must be able to adjust your swing based on the different speeds of the incoming balls.  Ask your table tennis training partner to block to your forehand and vary the speed of the block – sometimes slightly harder and sometimes slightly slower.  Keep your racket in front and backswing once you see the approaching ball.  If the ball is blocked quickly, then shorten your loop while still generating a lot of spin.  Always keep your weight leaning forward and contact the ball in front of your body.

In order to develop more dexterity in your forehand loop, you must be able to adjust your swing based on the placement of the incoming balls.  Ask your training partner to move the ball around in the forehand 50% of the ping pong table.  Watch your opponent’s racket and adjust your feet into position before swinging.  Once your feet are set, then take a swing.  If you are in good position, loop slightly harder with a longer swing.  If you are off-balance and forced to reach or lean for the ball, shorten your swing, focus on control, brush the ball with spin, then get in better position for the next loop.

In order to develop more dexterity in your forehand loop, you must be able to adjust your swing based on the depth of the incoming balls.  For this exercise, I would recommend starting very slowly.  Set up your Newgy Robo-Pong table tennis robot to throw the ball once every 3 seconds or have your training partner feed multiball.  If the ball is slow and lands near the net, move both feet forward and loop near the table.  If the ball is deep near the end line, then move back slightly and loop the deep ball.  When moving forward (for right-handed table tennis players), step with your right foot then the left foot.  When moving backward, step with the left foot then the right foot.  Both feet actually move simultaneously, however, the outside foot always initiates the movement.  When moving in-and-out, make sure to stay with your weight leaning forward.  Focus on moving your feet very fast while looping with control.

In order to develop more dexterity in your forehand loop, you must be able to adjust your swing based on the height of the incoming balls.  Ask your training partner to adjust his block sometimes higher and sometimes lower.  Keep your racket in front of your body and take your backswing once you see the height of the incoming ball.  For the forehand loop against topspin, try to start your swing directly behind the ball and loop forward with spin.  If the ball is higher, then start your racket higher.  If your racket is lower, then start your racket lower.

In order to develop more dexterity in your forehand loop, you must be able to adjust your swing based on the various spins of the incoming balls.  Ask your training partner to vary the spin on his block, sometimes he should block normal with slight topspin, sometimes he should spin over the ball with more topspin and sometimes he should chop-block.  If he adds topspin, the ball will jump up as it contacts your side of the table.  If he performs a chop-block, the ball with slow down as it contacts your side of the table.  Adjust your racket height and body position to the incoming ball.  This is the most challenging of all the exercises.  Don’t be discouraged if it takes several months to perfect this aspect of dexterity.

Every table tennis player should strive for dexterity.  I am convinced that dexterity should be trained.  In your training sessions, you should make it just as challenging as or more challenging than an actual game.  Be ready to adjust for various speeds, placements, depths, heights, and spins and you will be on your way to success!

Samson Dubina


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Changing Your Mindset in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong1 comment

A topic seldom addressed in table tennis, but very important, is about changing your mindset in regards to your opponent’s strengths. 

Many table tennis players fear their opponent’s strengths so much that it messes up all aspects of their game.  Instead of fearing the strength, try to use the strength against them. 

Here are some examples:

  1. Your opponent’s serve is very short and very low.  Generally, you are able to loop the serve and start the point out with attacking.  However, this opponent’s serve cannot be looped.  Instead of getting frustrated, you should be able to push his short serve short and wait to loop the following ball.
  1. Your opponent’s push is extremely heavy and you can’t power-loop the first ball.  Instead of getting frustrated, you should use your legs, open your angle, and brush the ball for a slightly slower and spinnier loop.  After he blocks your opening loop, you can follow-up with a stronger loop.
  1. Your opponent’s flip is very fast.  Instead of getting frustrated with the speed, you should shorten your swing, make contact with the ball, and return it quickly to a good location.  He probably won’t be ready for you to return it and the quick return will probably force him to block.  After he blocks, then you can take over with a speed shot.
  1. Your opponent’s loop is extremely powerful.  Instead of getting frustrated with his “weapon”, you should focus on returning only one loop.  By getting low, keeping your table tennis racket high and in front of you, and controlling the block, you should be able to manage to return one loop.  Once your opponent realizes that you can return it, he might slow it down and go for better placement or he might attempt to speed it up and become more inconsistent.

Try your best to play your strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses in table tennis.  However, when they do use their strengths, don’t fear them – just return them with control!

Samson Dubina

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Stay in the Right Zone in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

Professional table tennis players clearly understand their potential and limitations.  They know how hard they should loop, where to loop, when to loop, and when not to loop.  Ma Long loops most of his balls with 60-95% power.  His selection on how hard to loop depends on his positioning, his distance from the ping-pong table, his opponent’s return, and his opponent’s positioning.   Timo Ball loops most of his balls with 40-80% power; this is the zone that he feels most comfortable playing.

Now, let’s move the scenario to YOU…

You have a played a great table tennis match looping consistently from both forehand and backhand.  You are playing an opponent that you have never beaten before.  You are at 2-2 in games and now you have match-point at 10-9 in the fifth.  You know that you should attack first.  How hard should you attack?  Within your zone!  Know your limits and do what you do best!

If you loop too hard, you might lose control and make an unforced error.  If you loop too soft, you might lose control because your opponent’s backspin push will bite into your rubber making it more difficult for you.  Swing through the ball, complete your stroke, have confidence in your loop, and treat it like any other normal loop.  Remember, you need to have some racket-speed in order to generate spin.  Spin gives you control, which makes you more consistent.  Consistency is one of the main keys to winning every table tennis match!

Samson Dubina

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Mental Strategies in Table Tennis – Part X

Newgy Robo-Pong

Find Your Best State of Mind!

Most club table tennis players across the US give about 70% effort during matches while socializing, playing relaxed, and hitting great shots throughout the night.  The average club players try much harder in tournaments and often play a much different style.

Sometimes when I see a player at the club hit a very good shot I will pose the question,

“Could you do that in a tournament?”

The answer nearly always comes back with, “No.”

I respond with, “Why not?”

“Well, I’m trying to win in tournaments, so I don’t want to miss; I must play more conservatively and not go too risky. 

As you can see, many table tennis players aren’t training properly.  If their tournament styles consist of safe pushes, safe loops, safe blocks, that is exactly how they should be playing practice matches at the club.  Generally, table tennis players should put more pressure on themselves at the club to perform competitively and be more relaxed during tournaments.  Wanting to win too badly in tournaments can lead to poor performance.  Table tennis players should give their best concentration, put out their best effort, yet still be relaxed, have fun, and train the way they practiced!

Samson Dubina

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