There are a number different ways to improve your table tennis level. In clubs around the world many amateur players focus solely on playing matches in their day to day training regime. This method of training yields very little improvements, and over a period of time players often wonder why they are not getting better. The reason is that significant improvement requires hours and hours of high quality training. An effective table tennis training program should contain the following elements:
- Multiball training
- Table tennis exercises with a training partner
- Playing matches during training and in competitions
- Serve training
- Physical training
- Mental training
In this article we will focus on Multiball training.
Used by many coaches around the world this method of training is beneficial to table tennis players regardless of their level. Multiball training is the perfect way for beginners to learn the basic skills of table tennis. For the professional player, it’s perfect to work on specific problem areas of their game. One big advantage of multiball training is that the receiving player can focus completely on his/her technique while working on a specific training exercise.
By means of multiball training you can almost improve every aspect of table tennis:
- stroke technique
- footwork (left-right movement, forward-backwards movement, special movement patterns …)
- endurance, speed and physical strength
- serve receiving
- visual perception (amount of spin, length of balls…)
- variation (amount of spin, speed…)
If there is no trainer available in your area, never mind! Grab a friend of yours or a training partner and start feeding each other by using multiball training. In the following part of the article we will give some basic tips for the execution of multiball training.
Multiball training doesn’t require much equipment. You need a table tennis racket and a box or container filled with lots of table tennis balls. For example you can use a salad bowl, a shoebox or a table tennis towel box. When you feed balls with backspin, it can happen that your racket slides a little bit over the table. So a lot of trainers use rackets without a backhand rubber on it. Another possibility is gluing smooth rubbers (for example long pimples) or a piece of carpet on the backhand side of your blade.
Basic principles of multiball feeding
Basically, multiball training should simulate real game situations as close as possible. This requires different positions from the feeding player. For simulating the ball trajectory of a standard ball (long push or block) you should feed from the edge of your half of the table (see figure 1).
Feeding short balls is also a component of multiball training. In this way, for example, serve receiving can be practiced. Feeding short is much easier when the balls are played close to the net as shown in figure 2.
Some special exercises require feeding from behind the table. If you want to imitate lobs, chopping or topspin against topspin, you should place your box of balls at a certain distance behind the table (see figure 3). Thereby a natural ball trajectory is assured.
There are two types of feeding:
- Indirect: The trainer bounces each ball once on his side of the table before feeding. This way is perfectly suited for beginners, because there is more time to react to the next ball. Additionally, indirect feeding is recommended for backspin.
- Direct: The trainer plays the ball directly out of his hand. This way of feeding is appropriate for exercises with high ball frequency or for feeding from behind the table.
Another important point for multiball training is the frequency of feeding:
- Natural frequency: The balls are feeded in the frequency of a real table tennis match. This is the most common frequency for multi ball training. If you feed indirectly, natural frequency is achieved when the feeded ball and the ball played by the practicing player bounce at the same time on your half of the table.
- Low frequency: This frequency can be applied when working with table tennis beginners or for the improvement of special aspects of stroke technique and footwork, if the natural frequency is too fast.
- High frequency: High frequency is faster than the natural frequency and can be used in special occasions: For example, if a player uses long strokes, feeding with high frequency can help. The high frequency shortens the reaction time and forces the player to use short and fast strokes. It is also good to train the speed of footwork.
Finally, a few more tips are listed:
- For a natural ball trajectory it is recommended to feed close to the tabletop. The above figure shows the proper an inappropriate way of feeding.
- Try to grab some balls (for example 3 to 5 balls) at once. This helps to feed in a steady and fluent frequency. So if you feed an exercise consisting of 4 balls, try to grap 4 balls.
- Watch your spin when feeding: If you want to imitate blocked balls, put some topspin in the balls, because balls without spin are not practical. Otherwise the amount of spin should be adapted to the exercise and to the level of players.
- When feeding multiball try to mix regular and irregular exercises. Regular exercises are very good to improve and fine-tune the technique and footwork. Irregular exercises are the best preparation for the real match.
Multiball training is a great chance to push your table tennis skills to a higher level. So there are no excuses not to start feeding multiball with a friend or training partner.
Multiball training doesn’t have to be boring. Try to be creative. Items from your sport such as towels, pins, bars and rings can be used as direct feedback and can show the quality of the played balls’ placement, length, height etc.
For example, in the image below a ring is used to ensure that the feeded balls are pushed short. The ball should bounce firstly in the ring.
Some special exercises of amateur multiball training by 3TTabletennistraining are shown in the following trailer:
More videos of multi-ball exercises in amateur youth training can be found on our Youtube channel or facebook page:
So have fun and keep on training!
Werner Sigmund from 3TTabletennistraining