Coupled with my article yesterday on building reaction speed in table tennis, this article focuses on the importance of footwork speed and how you can improve it.
Having good footwork is (excuse the pun) pivotal in table tennis, building up the basic 'techniques' for footwork is highly important to ensure your body is in position for each ball. There are of course areas of footwork you need to know.
The first important thing to remember is that you should always keep your weight forward in the front of your feet and should always move for each ball, even if the ball returns to the same place you should be recovering and moving to be in the perfect position.
Building footwork speed is vital. What is more important to remember is that footwork in table tennis is often a different kind of fitness and body movement to simply going for a run. Although running will prepare your stamina and fitness level. It is important to practice footwork drills on and off the table.
Net to Net: A great exercise is the net post to post exercise. Starting around the side of the table at one net post, the player stands in the ready position, keeping their body low. Start a timer for 1 minute, the player must side step as fast as they can around the table to the other net post and touch it with the opposite hand. Upon touching it, change direction and go back to the other net post, continue until the minute is up. Should be repeated 3-5 times or more for a more intense session. This is most commonly practiced at the end of a training session.
Mirror Step: With your training partner, set a timer for one minute. Using side stepping the control player uses rolling steps (like running on the spot but in ready position) the control player can sidestep at pace in either direction, changing directions whenever they feel or pausing before moving. The mirror player has to copy their partner and keep up with them. This builds coordination and reaction footwork. You see a direction change, react and then move as fast as you can. At the end of a minute switch over. Repeat 3-5 times.
5 and 3 Point Forehand Variation: Possible the best footwork drill is the forehand point variation. 5 point focuses on a middle connecting ball. Playing all forehands a player hits a forehand at:
1. Forehand line
2. Middle line
3. Backhand line (pivot)
4. Middle line
1. Forehand line
This is a continuous exercise so the player will repeat the 5 points for as long as they can, concentrate on the footwork aspect and keep your stroke consistent to achieve maximum benefit.
The 3 point exercise takes out the middle ball on the way back.
1. Forehand line
2. Middle line.
3. Backhand line.
This exercise, repeated at each session, is a great way of building footwork speed and skill.
Pivot Exercises: Pivoting is a very important to practice. Building pivoting into your game will aid in your attacking ability. The simplest pivot drill is simply playing one backhand, one forehand from the corner. You can build pivots into almost any drill by simply replacing a backhand stroke with a pivot forehand.
Hope this post on basic footwork building will help you with your game, as always please add feedback or tips you use yourself to help improve your footwork!