As you begin to improve as a table tennis player and master the fundamentals, you’ll almost certainly need to think about increasing your power. As a beginner consistency and accuracy are key. If you are missing half of your shots and have no control over your placement of the ball you’ll spend most of your time picking the ball up off the floor. Once you’ve mastered that stage and can hold your own in a rally it’s time to think about developing more powerful strokes.
But how do you give more power to your table tennis game? Is it time to start hitting the gym and pumping iron? Well, bulking up and increasing your general strength may give you a small advantage but it’s definitely not the best way to try and increase your table tennis power.
Power, in most sports, comes from developing proper technique and understanding the mechanics of your body. One sport in which utilising power is vital, is boxing and if you’ve every watched lightweight or featherweight boxing you’ll understand that despite weighing only 9-10 stone (130-140lb), those guys can pack a pretty powerful punch!
So what can we learn from the boxers? How can we use the mechanics of our body to put more power into our shots? Here are a few top tips…
1. Stay Balanced
“Power begins at the feet. Our contact point with the ground.”
If we are not balanced we will struggle to produce power. This can be very hard in table tennis as we are often reacting to our opponents previous shot and having to move quickly. However, the best players always ensure they move to the ball as quickly as possible, create a wide base with their feet, and keep their center of gravity low. This gives them the best chance of being balanced during their stroke.
2. Be Relaxed
“The relaxing motion is a critical aspect of punching power”.
Tension is what makes us heavy and slow. It’s true in boxing and it translates into table tennis. If our muscles are tense it doesn’t matter how hard we try to generate power, we’re fighting an uphill battle. We can decrease this heaviness by relaxing our body. Relaxing our muscles (especially the upper-body ones) will allow us to accelerate faster and transfer the maximum amount of energy into the ball.
“Increasing your muscle power is useless if you can’t get your body to hit all at once.”
In all racket sports timing is crucial. We only have a split-second window in which we need to have our legs, hips, torso, shoulders, arms and head connecting with the ball. If you’re ever caught wondering why a skinny 13 year old kid can hit so much harder than you, the answer is probably timing. Correct technique, combined with perfect timing, will create a very powerful shot. Think about a golf swing. The ball that ‘flew’ was the one you hit with perfect timing that “just felt right”. It wasn’t the one you tried to wallop as hard as you could.
Personally, I think there’s lots to be learnt from other sports. I find it interesting reading technical coaching points for boxing and seeing how they apply to table tennis. This method of learning is particularly useful in a sport such as our which is less popular/mainstream than others and therefore has a lot less written about it.
Thanks for reading and let me know how you get on trying to add a bit more power to your table tennis.