Ping Pong: The Top Ten Mistakes That Beginners Make

Starting ping pong or table tennis-depending on your level of play-is like beginning anything new: it takes time, mistakes, and a whole lot of practice. There are; however, a number of common mistakes that first time ping pong players typically make, and here is how to best avoid them.

1. Grip

Many new ping pong players make the mistake of gripping their paddle incorrectly. Gripping the ping pong paddle incorrectly can affect the range of strokes that you can effectively use, cause undue wear on your wrist, and affect your overall ability to play the game correctly. It is typically recommended that beginners use either the shakehand grip or the penhold grip.

Shakehand Grip: Wrap three bottom fingers around bottom of handle, extend index finger along bottom of the racket, and join the thumb loosely with bottom three fingers at the base of the blade.

Penhold Grip: The penhold grip is just like holding a pen to write: wrap index finger and thumb loosely at the base of the blade, while the three remaining fingers curl and rest around the back of the racket.

2. Stroke

Stroke is one of the most common issues that beginners face. Instead of trying to guide the ball over the net, learn how to stroke the ball so that you have more control.

3. Speed

Though your first instinct when beginning ping pong, may be to whack the ball as hard as possible; this will only land your ball across the room instead on the other side of the table where it should be. Finding the right amount of hit for the ball will give you the control of the ball that you need to play ping pong correctly.

4. Equipment

Though quality is always key in any new equipment for a sport; choosing the right paddle, balls, and table for your playing level is just as important. Basically, do not go out when you are first learning and purchase the same equipment that the Olympic Table Tennis champions use...Instead go to your local sports store or even a specialty table tennis group or school, and ask them what they suggest. Typically, based on what your original strengths and weaknesses are, they can point you to a very basic paddle, ball, and table.

5. Stance

If you're a beginner at ping pong, chances are you stand in one place more or less when you play; and strain to reach the ball. Movement, however, is absolutely necessary to playing ping pong correctly. It gives you a much wider range of motion and strokes, meanwhile giving your game a better performance.

6. Rules

Even if you are content just to play at home with family or friends, casually; it's always helpful to know the basic rules of ping pong. Invest in book or simple manual that will tell you how to score, count points, troubleshoot, etc. It will give you a better idea of what you are doing, and make you that much closer to playing the game the right way.

7. Get Advice

Even if you have a book and practice often, you may not be playing correctly, though the rules are a great guideline. Try out a session or class with a table tennis group or school. It certainly will not hurt to get the best foot forward, when beginning to play. This way, you can be shown exactly the right stance and stroke and other maneuvers, instead of just reading them and looking at pictures.

8. Consistency

Beginners, once they have mastered a few strokes and have begun to feel more comfortable with the game, have a tendency to want to change or upgrade equipment. It is always best to practice for a good solid amount of time with the paddle and table, etc that you began with; and then move on should you choose to later on. This will make you more practiced and polished as a ping pong player.

9. Practice

Though it typically goes without saying, practicing ping pong-or anything else for that matter-makes perfect. It is the single most crucial tip to remember if you have any desire in getting better at the sport. It will bring confidence, better form, and a higher level of performance; as well as heightened comfort level with the game.

10. Patience

Second to practice, it that unnerving but significant virtue: patience. It is always overlooked, but the more patient you are in learning something new, the more chance you give yourself to learn the rules, strokes, performance correctly. The same applies to ping pong. Know that if you want to learn how to play as a sport, that it will take some time, practice, and patience.


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