How to play table tennis: a beginner's guide
How to play table tennis: a beginner's guide
Table tennis, also called ping-pong, is a game played with a racket. Sport and leisure activity, pits two or four players around a table.

Table tennis, also called ping-pong, is a game played with a racket. Sport and leisure activity, it pits two or four players around a table. Like all other sports, the practice of table tennis operates according to a number of well-defined rules. Likewise, its mastery requires basic abilities or aptitudes.

The purpose and rules of ping-pong

Table tennis, as the name suggests, takes place on a table that is separated in the middle by a net. The goal of each player on either side of the net is to get the ball to the opposing half of the table in order to win the game. A part of the game of table tennis takes place according to a very precise regulation, from the pre-game to the scoring of the point during the match.

Before the start of a table tennis game, a two-minute contact takes place between the opponents. The purpose of this is to allow competitors to exchange freely and to adapt to the parameters in force. After this contact, the game itself takes place over three or four rounds, each made up of several exchanges.

During a round, a toss determines the first player to serve and a change of side takes place between the players at the end of each round. The player who wins the required number of rounds wins the game. This number of rounds generally depends on the competitions but it is often 3 or 4 rounds. The number of points to be reached per round is 11. To be able to win a round it is always necessary to have a minimum of 2 points of gaps, the number of points can therefore increase as long as it is necessary to reach this gap.

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The material and the place

The practice of table tennis is done with materials and a suitable place. The place is usually a room. Regarding the material, a distinction is made between collective material and individual material.

The room

The room which covers the practice of table tennis has very specific characteristics. Indeed, the ground is usually without bumps or hollows and horizontal. In addition, the ground must be fairly fixed and not slippery. It is possible that it is manufactured or glued. However, it is formally prohibited to use any device related to cementing.

Regarding the temperature and lighting of the room, they vary according to the type of competition. In reality, they must be at least 1000 lux on the surface of the table when it comes to world championships and Olympic games. 600 lux is required for smaller competitions.

Collective material

The collective table tennis equipment consists of a game table, the ball and other elements.

The game table

The game table for a table tennis competition is horizontal, rectangular and flat. The table tennis table is generally 2.74 meters long by 1.525 meters wide and has a height of 76 centimeters. The competition table is made up of a playing surface called a board. The latter is usually matt, blue or dark green in color. Entirely bordered, it is divided into two identical camps separated by a net 15.25 centimeters high which overflows on each side.

The ball

The table tennis ball is spherical in shape and made of celluloid or polypropylene. Weighing 2.7 grams, it meets certain specific rebound conditions. Note that the quality of the tennis ball used during a competition depends on the type of competition.

The other elements

In addition to the table and the tennis ball, there are partitions approximately 75 centimeters high which surround the playing areas. To these is added the marker which is a panel used by the referee. It remains placed on a table called arbitration. In the last collective element, we note the freelance. Its role is to check the height of the net and the coverings on the rackets.

Individual material

Individual equipment is what the table tennis player personally uses. These are mainly the racket and sportswear. A freedom of choice is left to the racket and the restriction is only to coverings which must be limited to four. As for the sportswear, it consists of shorts or a skirt, a shirt, socks and sports shoes.

The practice, skills required and benefits of table tennis

The practice of table tennis is based on a certain number of movements and requires a certain ability. When you have trained well, it provides a series of satisfactions. Indeed, the essential actions during a table tennis session are essentially:

  • laying the ball on the palm of the open hand
  • throwing the ball more than 16 centimeters high
  • hitting the ball behind the table when it lands.

To be effective in table tennis, you need to have speed, precision and the right tactics of your choice, among other things. In addition, table tennis is a sport like any other and therefore requires enough training to improve.

Both individually and collectively, training allows the player to have a good hitting technique. Over time, the beginner player will be able to acquire certain automatisms and face difficulties. He can also thereby acquire a license within a club and progress very quickly.

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Like many sports, table tennis requires intense and overall physical preparation of the body because all the muscles will be called upon during sets, so it is essential to know how to prepare well to avoid any injuries. We are therefore going to offer you various exercises to set up so that your physical preparation is as complete as possible.

Why is good preparation important?

The various workouts necessary to set up before a match will gradually and better prepare your body for the effort. Regularly practicing these exercises will therefore improve your performance in a match. Table tennis is a sport that requires the explosiveness of those who practice it. Unlike endurance sports which will call on aerobic capacity: the effort is not very intense but never stops, ping-pong works by many very intense efforts over short periods (capacity anaerobic). So to work at best your physical condition and adapt the capacities of your body to the practice of ping-pong, it will be necessary to work the 2 capacities while insisting on the anaerobic with solicitations of your muscles in an intense way over short periods.

What exercises to be well prepared for?

Endurance and Explosive

First of all, remember that table tennis requires intense physical effort, which is why the table tennis player must absolutely work on his endurance through regular and frequent jogging. This work can be done in two ways either continuously to boost your aerobic or in fractional for anaerobic.

If you are not a fan of running, you can completely replace this exercise with skipping rope. Note that 15 min of skipping rope is equivalent to about 30 min of running.
One of the other will make you improve your cardio, therefore, strengthen your heart and your breath and therefore allow you to be enduring throughout your matches.

Dynamic cladding

The keyword of a good table tennis player is to have reflexes and good coordination in his movements and of course, this is acquired and must be an integral part of your physical preparation, for example, juggling will be very good training.
You just need to provide yourself with two or three balls or more depending on your ease with this exercise and to remember your childhood memories while adding a little patience ...

More simply if you do not know how to juggle or if you do not have the equipment with you, there are simple core exercises in motion, some of which are very good in the video below.

You will need to start this work gradually while increasing the duration of the core sessions as you train, especially if your body is not used to it.


Another exercise that we believe will bring you benefits in your physical preparation is stretching, in fact this will allow you to loosen your joints which will be heavily used during sets and stretch the different muscles of your body.
This discipline can therefore be practiced both upstream and downstream of your events or both depending on your needs. Working on your flexibility will allow you to reduce injuries caused by muscles that are too rigid or tense. Several exercises will allow you to work on your muscle amplitude, for example:

  • Shoulder and bust stretch: find a stable support such as a table or a wall and turn to have it behind your back. Place your hands on it and go down, bending your arms and legs.
  • Stretch your arms and wrists by extending your right arm in front of you parallel to the floor, palm open, hand down and using your left arm to gently pull your right hand and hold for a few seconds. You can work on the flexibility of your wrist by rotating it with your left hand. The elbow should remain straight.
  • Torso twist: sit on the floor with both legs outstretched. Bend one of them and pass the elbow of the opposite arm to the bent leg in front of the knee. Press to feel the stretch in your back and hip.
  • Back and lumbar: lie down with your back on the ground, bend your leg so that you can catch it with your two hands. Gently pull your knee towards your chest as much as possible. Then lift your head up to bring it closer to the knee. You can work one leg after the other or both legs at the same time
  • Inner thigh: position your back straight and move one of your legs forward without moving the other, bend the front leg and hold. Come back and change legs.
  • Quadriceps: Stand close to a wall and place one hand against it so you can stabilize yourself if necessary. Bend your leg so that you catch your foot with your hand behind your back.


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This non-exhaustive list gives you stretching ideas to practice very slowly, without ever feeling pain. Practiced frequently, they will provide more flexibility and freedom of movement and reduce the risk of injury.