People playing table tennis

How to Improve your Table Tennis Skills

Whether you play for fun or competitively, check out our tips and tricks to help you improve your table tennis skills today.

Table tennis is an incredibly exciting sport that requires power, stamina, agility and a whole lot more. While considered a beginner-friendly sport, there are no limits to how far you can go, and as a competitive sport, it makes for a great challenge. Find out what you can do today to boost your performance, from cleaning up your fundamentals to opting for some high-powered skills to be reckoned with!

How to get better at Table Tennis

Getting better at table tennis involves a variety of things. From brushing up on your basics to stocking up on performance-boosting equipment to effectively observing your opponent and understanding how to respond based on the type of contact, they make with the ball, will help you get better at table tennis.

Get the right Gear

Much like with any sport, it all starts with the right gear. If you’re planning to take table tennis seriously or want to give yourself the best start possible, you’ll want your trustee paddle and ball to help you get there. But how do you find the right essentials? Find an overview below.

Man and woman competing in table tennis tournament

Table Tennis Bat

All newcomers to table tennis will start with the classic stiff bat you'll find in every recreational room and basement. But once you decide to level up, there are a few ways to help your performance with a table tennis bat fitted with the right functionality for you.

Beginner: A beginner-friendly bat will offer a more prominent sweet spot to be more forgiving during serves and strokes to help you get the ball over the net. It's all about optimising your control above more advanced spins. This will help you get your foundations right first, including technique, before you level up to a more aggressive and offensive playing style.

Intermediates can start thinking about piecing together a custom bat. Here are the pieces you need:

• Rubber for forehand
• Rubber for backhand
• Blade

Rubber can be spinny, offer greater control or prioritise speed, depending on your preference and what comes most naturally to you.

The blade is just as diverse; you can choose from different types of wood that vary in weight, some offering more offensive gaming, others defensive, and some that find a nice balance between the two.

Intermediates are well-placed to opt for rubbers and blades that offer reasonable control but with a little more speed than your classic beginner bats. This is to help you level up gently, to help you up the pace and a bat that can keep up with it.

Experts will already have their custom bat made and know everything about putting one together. So it's a good idea for advanced players to test a wider variety of rubbers with various strokes and see how much spin you can generate with the level of control offered - so you can find your optimal set.

And finally, make sure your paddle is ITTF approved; this means the equipment is tested by the world governing body and ensures decent quality.

W9oman studying her table tennis paddle
man and woman playing table tennis indoors

Table Tennis Skills and Technique

Spins: Observe

There are a lot of things you can do right now to boost your table tennis skills and technique. One of the most important aspects of competitive table tennis is to watch your opponent's paddle carefully to see when it makes contact with the ball and where. By noticing the point of contact, you'll know where the ball is going and how it's getting there to prep you with the correct response. Here's how you can predict the spins your opponent is using on you.

• Low to high - Topspin
• High to low - Backspin
• Left to right - right sidespin
• Right to the left - left sidespin

Man playing table tennis

Spins: Counter

You'll be able to compensate for the spins with the racket angle. Here's how to angle your leading racket to counter spins:

Topspin: Angle your racket face down and make contact with the ball above its centre.
Backspin: Angle your racket facing up and make contact with the ball below its centre
Right sidespin: Angle your racket to face the right and contact the ball to the left of its mid-line
Left sidespin: Angle your racket face to the left and contact the ball to the right of its mid-line

how to serve in table tennis

Getting the serve right is vital in a game of table tennis, and any good player should wonder how to serve in table tennis to give themselves a quick advantage over their opponents.

The question of how to serve in table tennis can be answered in a few ways; let's start with the rules


1. Hold the ball in an open, flat hand with the ball resting on the palm. Avoid gripping the ball with your fingers to ensure no spin is imparted during the toss.

2. Toss the ball vertically behind the table's white end line. Ensure it rises above the table's surface and that you strike the ball behind this line. Refrain from leaning over the table when making contact.

3. Ensure the ball rises at least 6 inches straight up from the palm before striking.

4. After the toss, you can strike the ball to any part of your side before it lands anywhere on your opponent's side of the table.

Man setting up net for outdoor table tennis table

Best Practice

During a standard pendulum serve, move your middle, ring, and pinkie fingers, adjusting your grip on the bat handle until they support the rubber. This will give you more control.

By shifting your left foot to be adjacent to the table's left corner, you'll be positioned to view the ball parallel to the table's end line, ensuring better vision. Place your right foot a few inches behind your left, pointing away from the table. As you lean forward, shifting your weight onto your left leg, and with the ball outstretched in your left hand, position your right shoulder behind your left. This ensures you face away from the table, better anticipating your serve.

Throw the ball upwards, move your right shoulder forward, and allow your left shoulder to fall back. Brush across the left side of the ball to produce a sidespin.

Close-up of two people playing table tennis

Common Types of Serves

Chop Serve: Comes with a backspin and is easy to keep short, minimising the ability of your opponent to offer a strong counterattack. You can do the chop serve with either a forehand or backhand side; strike underneath the ball from back to front to deliver the backspin. The fainter the contact, the shorter the ball.

Pendulum: The same setup and striking motion as with the chop serve; here, you'll hit strike more of the side of the ball to deliver the sidespin. If you're right-handed, contact the ball on the left side with an up or downwards angle for a top or backspin alongside a sidespin.

Reverse Pendulum:
The opposite of the pendulum, with the difference of the strike; you'll hit the ball in the opposite direction for an opposing sidespin. Your bat should move from left to right.

The shovel serve is similar to the reverse pendulum as it produces the same type of spin, and the setup is very similar. However, the critical difference between the two is the reverse pendulum primarily produces spin from your wrist, whereas the shovel uses your arm.

This makes the shovel far easier to perform and much simpler to mix up your spin.

This is a type of chop serve where the ball bounces gently to your opponent's side but offers a powerful backspin to draw it back to the net.

Tricks of Table Tennis

And there you have it, our wide-ranging table tennis tricks to help you better respond, serve and progress in your table tennis journey. Remember, it's all about practice and trying your hand at the more advanced moves. Observing your opponent's hits and reacting accordingly is half the battle! Check out our top tricks of table tennis for more.

Table tennis bat

Get your table tennis essentials today

Ready to try out your new moves? Do it with the right gear. Our table tennis equipment is performance-boosting, durable, and gives you everything you need to win at your next game. Find the right table tennis sets, balls, tables, nets, and more.

Read Next

Man and woman playing table tennis outdoors

10 Killer Table Tennis Tips

Whether you’re getting started or want to take your game to another level, we've got top table tennis tips to help you serve up a winning performance.