9 Most Crucial Mistakes Made by Table Tennis Beginners

Table tennis is an exciting indoor activity that can be learned quickly.

However, making mistakes as a beginner is pretty typical in every game.

Nevertheless, some people carry these small errors along with their career path.


Some of these mistakes can easily be corrected at an early stage consequently improving a player’s performance. 

Here are nine of the crucial mistakes made by table tennis beginners.

table tennis mistakes

Image: thoughtco.com

1.    Using the wrong equipment

It’s not uncommon to find beginners using the wrong equipment such as paddle/racket/bat or sports shoes. In any game, the first thing that you need to do is find the right equipment. Nevertheless, in most cases, beginners do not realize the difference between the table tennis rackets regarding weight, grip, size, and surface. Moreover, they tend to play with generic sports shoes which might reduce their flexibility significantly. To correct this mistake, ensure you find a paddle that feels comfortable, and the same case applies to the shoes as well.

2.    Inconsistently switching paddles.

Getting the right paddle can be a daunting task but once you get one it’s a rewarding experience. You need to realize the right paddle for you and one that works to your advantage regarding weight and grip. Once you get a hold of one of these, use it consistently during practice and in tournaments as well. Switching a paddle to compensate for poor techniques is a common mistake with new table tennis players.

3.    Poor footwork

When most people start out playing table tennis, they don’t believe that their feet need to be involved in the game. Nevertheless, this is a grave mistake in table tennis that might cost you not only your game but also your health. If you don’t want to move your feet, and only work with your hands, you might end up straining some other parts of your body. In this regard, you need to practice how to move your feet during a game to reach for extremely low and high shots without straining your muscles.

4.    Too much stiffness

I think it is natural when starting out in table tennis; you are afraid of making mistakes which might lead to a lot of stiffness. Just as footwork, you need to work on your entire body movements and coordination. For instance, when hitting the ball, ensure you use your whole body as opposed to hitting it with only your hands. This technique increases the force of the ball giving the opponent a hard time to return the shot.

5.    Trying to get a winning shot at every stroke

It’s exciting for newbies once they learn how to stroke the ball. However, the excitement gets in the way when they start trying to win shots from every stroke instead of using a strategy. A good strategy would allow you to control the pace of the game by interchanging between quick and slow returns.

6.    Poking the ball instead of stroking it

For most beginners, making mistakes is one of their worst nightmares and to avoid this, they often poke the ball instead of stroking it during a game. The disadvantage that comes with poking a ball is that the ball always lands on the opponent’s court as a highball giving him/her an opportunity to send back a ruthless power shot. To avoid giving your competitor an advantage, you should try to maintain your strokes even if you end up making mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the game and the earlier you do it, the better chances of improving your game.

7.    Leaning backward instead of leaning forward

To be in a better position to have a quick return and reach for both low and high shots, you should lean forward. However, most beginners try to reach for the ball by leaning backward which is not only unprofessional but might end up hurting a player’s back. As mentioned earlier, try to make sure that your body coordinates with a pace of the game.

8.    Not attempting to learn the rules

It’s obvious that new players want to quickly jump in a game to enjoy it as soon as possible. In this regard, it’s pretty common for beginners to get into the game without knowing all the rules after skipping the theory part. It’s good to learn all the rules before and during your practice to avoid embarrassing surprises during a serious tournament just because you are used to playing at home where you don’t consider finer details in the rules. For example, during the serving, the rules dictate that a player should toss the ball at least 6 inches high before serving. It also dictates that your opponent and all umpires should be able to see the ball. Furthermore, you should do this above the level of the table. In case you haven’t learned some of these rules, you might find it difficult to adjust during an important tournament.

9.    Being impatient

Once beginners have their first couple of shots/strokes, the excitement of the game might sometimes go overboard and affect them psychologically. In this regard, it’s easy to find beginners who want to move from newbie to Pro in a very short time. This happens typically when beginners spend a lot of time with professionals. It’s a good idea to be ambitious, but this approach makes it easy for beginners to make mistakes such as bypassing the most crucial fundamentals of playing table tennis. In some cases, you realize that beginners go out and shop for customized paddles/rackets when they can barely spin a ball. This does not only affect their self-esteem but also interferes with their game development ending up being half-baked athletes or professional players.

There are other mistakes such as having too much information, getting too much assistance or too little, lack of regular practice, poor understanding of the speed limits and trying to impress. Nevertheless, most of these mistakes can be avoided through practicing with more experienced players or by hiring a coach.

    Peter S. Harper

    I am Peter, a 39-year-old friendly being from the United States. I love playing a lot of sports such as tennis, table tennis, volleyball, softball, and badminton... I have created this blog to help you find information on different types of sports equipment and finding the right one to enhance your skills at the game.

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