Advanced Table Tennis: Techniques, Tactics & Technology

Articles by  Srinivas Janardhanan - Updated August 2017

An interesting historical table-tennis perspective related to North Korean situation :-  Many folks may not be aware of the ping-pong diplomacy of early 1970’s (exchange tour of USA & Chinese table-tennis national teams initiated by a USA player & a Chinese player chance meeting on the tournament bus at the Word Championships in Nagoya, Japan in 1971) that lead to eventual visit of US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 and improvement of relations between China & USA. Twenty year later again at Chiba Japan 1991 World Championships , South & North Korea to field a unified team (there was a rumor that Japan forced this)  & Korean women shocked the super-mighty Chinese women’s team by beating them in the coveted (supposedly whole lot more coveted by Chinese due to their communist ideals ?! )  team event finals. (See the movie As One,  2012)  (As a side note in the lean period of Chinese table-tennis, Chinese men did not even make the finals of team event as Sweden  men’s  Dream Team 2  (or Super Dream Team)  swept everything , repeating as winner of the teams event , singles winner & runner up as well as Men’s doubles. Sweden has ended Chinese domination earlier in 1989 by blanking China in the team event 5 matches to 0 and also winning the singles winner & runner-up…Sweden would also repeat in 1993 teams, 1997-singles & 2000-teams………another country is yet to beat China in the team event since then)

Have you ever met ANYONE (in North America) who does NOT claim they played “ping-pong” “professionally” for their high school or college or (native old) country ? We all play in our basements / bars-don't we ?  Come on How hard can it be ?  An  Olympic sport  ?  ROTFL. Well then...let us play a little game & see if any of the phrases below ring a bell to you ?

ReglueRepeal-95, VOC FakeBan, Durban Aspect Ratio Genocide, Liu's RPH, dual composites, progressive hardening, 2_color rule83, robotNazi, Reverse tomahawk, RozeanuAdham's "Big Ball Theory", Bergmann, hook & fade loops, Waldner, Barrier Appeling,  frictionless medium pips

Ok That is what we thought . Don't feel bad though. (Your title as legend of your neighborhood basements / bars will remain a safe secret with us).

Table-Tennis > A "very easy to learn" simple & fun "basement game.... but a "very hard to master" athletic complex "Olympic sport" of obscene super-spins at insane speeds.

Table-tennis recently became the first & only sport to be “officially” affiliated to ITTF by each and every one of 226 nation members of IOC, having already passed in popularity past volleyball & soccer etc.

Table-tennis is now also recognized by top neurologists & recommended at both ends of human life-cycle : for faster brain development of children as well as for therapy for Alzheimers’ , Parkinsons’ and dementia)   

USATT will host the World’s largest tournament (limited to 5000 players), the World Veteran Championships next year (2018) in Las Vegas followed by USA National Championships the week after (with more than 170 different events of singles, doubles & mixed-doubles for all ages 5 to 100+). (The context of the word “veteran” here is meaning any person over age of 40, not in the context of a military “veteran” as the word is used in countries like USA).  BTW , Los Angeles has been awarded to host the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in 2028 (July 21 to August 8th) following Tokyo in 2020 and Paris in 2024 (Table-tennis was introduced as a demonstration sport in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and became a formal event since1988 Seoul Olympics)

Ping Pong > Silly mindless recreational "game" of backhand buffoons mostly played in USA ( one of very few countries where there is no formal varsity competitions in formal table-tennis in schools or colleges) using 99-cent convenient store paddles played in small basements (wearing jeans & sandals) or bar-rooms (wearing dress clothes & shoes like high heels).

Table-Tennis > World's most popular (the FIRST & ONLY sport formally registered with IOC & ITTF and played on every one of 226 nations on this planet) , fastest (on feet), athletic, forehand dominant, tactically the most complex (analogy used is downhill skiing while playing chess) individual “sport” of billion playing styles (as each player style is distinctly unique) played using $50 to $500 cutting edge high technology composite rackets wearing proper athletic attire (such as sprinter like super-light-shoes for explosive-acceleration) to create obscene spins with players & the ball moving at insane speeds, on a standard playing area larger than a badminton court and an official inter-school & inter-collegiate competition sport (except in USA & very few countries) for both men & women, leading to professional and Olympic participation. 

The major problem with promoting the sport of table-tennis in a country like USA can be paradoxically attributed to the very countries that have utterly dominated the sport in recent times (except few short spurts of dominance by the Swedes & Hungarians) as they keep referring to the sport as ping-pong though they have a highly scientific & thoroughly professional approach to the sport though it seems totally unintentional …… this may be just a problem related the usage of the language in China, Japan & Korea (& most other Asian countries where table-tennis is more popular)  except the Indian sub-continent where table-tennis is referred to by it its formal proper name, given that India was one of the twelve original  founding members of the ITTF in 1926, though currently table-tennis is less popular than it used to be like in USA dominated in the 40’s (since the great sport of cricket is now like a religion in the Indian sub-continent……though interestingly another great sport of  field-hickey is still the official national sport). This has created  a serious image problem to the sport in USA, the one of only a very few countries where table-tennis is not a formal varsity sport at the secondary schools level but seen as a silly basement game of ping-pong.. So when powerhouse table-tennis nations like China, Japan &  Korea keep referring to the sport as ping-pong as equating it to silly basement game, it only causes great difficulties in promoting the sport in USA & North America ( & it would not hurt if the Canadians don’t just stick to just one indoor sport of ice-hockey and played the this indoor sport a little more LOL)   

If you are a non-player or a beginner, click on 4 links below below before proceeding to other advanced topics that follow at the bottom of the page.


Ping & Pong  >  4 letter words for a table-tennis player  ?  

 Addresses myths and little known facts about the "sport" of table-tennis


Guide to beginners coming to table-tennis


Your first racket


Secret underground world of table-tennis in USA

                 Below are a series of articles I have written over a 15 year period , most of which are based on questions that are repeatedly asked of me as a master level player ,coach & umpire and based on my research in various forums worldwide related to table-tennis at all levels.  My focus in writing these articles had been primarily to help to think for yourselves whether you are a beginner or advanced player, as you may initially not agree with at all regarding some of the controversial topics presented here from the world of table-tennis and also the concepts of effectiveness vs efficiency.  Even if you were created to be a born table-tennis player with lightening reflexes , foot speed , hand speed and innate feel for the ball,  to be able to play a close to the table block and smash style, you still need to understand other mortal styles who need to be able to spin the ball and solve myriad of spins to survive in table-tennis.....which makes table-tennis the most complicated individual sport (under almost all playing styles) given the speed at which it is played in a small area and the extreme complexity of rackets (many consider it bad for the sport) , which even many world-class players cannot comprehend (and most younger Americans who are not intimately familiar with table-tennis will find this claim of being the most complicated "sport" to be not only ludicrous but also downright hilarious)  You may think you are efficiently training on many techniques and tactics of table-tennis but they may be totally ineffective when applied to you as an individual.  For example if you are an excellent hitter on your backhand but are unable to loop,  it is basically a waste of your time forcing yourself learning to loop using inverted rubber (just because it is the fashionable thing to do and submit to peer pressure), while you should be using short pips on your backhand instead. On the flipside most players go thru life mindlessly practicing how to hit the ball using smooth (inverted) rubber while the sport of modern table-tennis is based on looping ( super-heavy topspin)  the ball instead of just hitting the ball. Therefore I suggest all beginners that they read the article about learning to loop. Similar thinking applies to intermediate / advanced players but at a higher level of analysis of equipment as well as techniques and tactics.    Images courtesy of ITTF

Please click on links below to launch the article

Learn to loop or get the bloody hell out of table-tennis    (a MUST read for every player) 

Whose serve is it ? Keeping score in table-tennis

Unorthodox & Advanced Strokes

Understanding & Attacking Side Spins

Ultimate multi-ball drills

Stroke Based analysis of rubber sheets

Who should (& absolutely should NOT) be using short-pips

Exploring (long) pips rubber designs

Uncontrolling your long-pips

Racket-twirling : Techniques & Tactics

Ideal Blade Design for Modern Chopper

Come to the divine side of table-tennis