‘Quick Feet’ is a vast underestimation of a table tennis player’s footwork as he reacts to the speeding, probably spinning, light-weight ball. An advanced-level player shifts from his ready position, moves up to five feet, and does a full body swing to return the shot, all in less than half a second. (1) Indeed, competitive players resort to physics to calculate how they can improve their acceleration time and distance between strokes from their stationary ready position. The crouching, never slouching, always coordinated, sometimes explosive body movements typify table tennis moves.
Ping pong – the original, onomatopoeic name – is a sport of long rallies and sharp-angled shots. The ‘footwork field’ is far smaller than other racquet sports, only 20 feet by 40 feet; the table width is only 5 feet of the 20. Ping pong players must move around on their own side of the net and make calculated offensive or game-changing defensive shots from different heights and distances. Table tennis footwork requires precision. Mastery of basic footwork patterns is the key to success at advanced levels of competition. Small steps get players in perfect position for spectacular shots.
(Slow Motion) Footwork
Ready Position – The right-handed player returns to a left-of-centre angle on possible shots. Crouching forward with feet shoulder-width apart, he balances on the balls of his feet, heels lightly touching the ground. His left foot and left shoulder are slightly forward. The tip of his paddle can barely touch the table’s edge.
One-step to the side – To cover a wide backhand, he shifts weight to his right leg and pushes his left foot further to the left.
Two-steps to the side – To take a wide forehand, he leans on his right leg, pulls his left foot towards his right foot. Then he quickly shifts his right foot to the right. This is a side-skipping move.
Three-steps to the side – An incoming shot lands deep to the forehand corner, angling off the wide forehand sideline. Or, the player needs to step out wide on his backhand side to hit a forehand. This is two-step but with a preliminary small step. Moving right, he takes a small step with right foot and shifts weight to his right leg. Then, he performs a two-step movement.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)
TRAINING – COMPETITION – PODIUM