Bilateral transfer in table tennis

Table Tennis Discussion

Last updated 8 years ago

Toni R

Toni R Asked 8 years ago

 Hello! "Previous studies have shown that practising complex sport skills on both sides of the body benefits performance not only with the non-dominant limb, but also with the dominant limb. For example, Haaland and Hoff (2003) examined two groups of experienced soccer players in three soccer-specific tests (dribbling, volley goal shot, and passing against a mini goal) after they had practised over several weeks using either only their dominant leg or their non-dominant leg. As would be expected the non-dominant leg group performed better across all tasks when tested with the non-dominant leg after the training period. Not expected, however, was the finding that the non-dominant leg group also showed greater performance improvements when tested on their dominant leg (when compared to the dominant leg group). Thus non-dominant leg training led to a general improvement of skill performance on both sides of the body, even in experienced soccer players. Most interestingly, these effects of dominant and non-dominant limb practise have been observed to even affect sports that are only played on one side, such as table tennis (Maurer 2005)." (Stöckel & Weigelt 2012.)

So, what do you think about bilater transfer in table tennis skills? Do you know how much professional table tennis players practise with their non-dominant hand? Have you tried it by yourself? I practised last week 2x2 hours with my left hand (I'm right-hander) and it improved very fast. In the next practise I took warm up with my left hand and then I switched to play with my right hand. It felt so easy to play with right hand after left hand practising and I played my best table tennis ever. Now I'm thinking how much I should practise with my left hand in the future?

- Toni


Stöckel, T. & Weigelt, M. 2012. Brain lateralisation and motor learning: Selective effects of dominant and non-dominant hand practise on the early acquisition of throwing skills. Psychology Press 17 (1), 18-37.


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Toni,

That is interesting information.  The top players don’t practice with their non-dominant hand at all.  I guess the questions I have is, is the time spent practicing with the non-dominant hand better spent practicing with the dominant hand?

At the early stage of learning any development of skills with either hand will help development as the body is learning the correct movements.

There is also a freedom that you feel when you go back to playing with the dominant hand which can lead to psychological benefits which may be what you were feeling in that practice session.

I like the idea of balancing the body for physical reasons.  One handed sports tend to develop imbalances in the physical development of the body which can lead to other issues.

It would be interesting to hear others thoughts on this as well.

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D K Posted 8 years ago

Some great players are compensating it by playing another but similar sport by their non-dominant arm.

For example,Peter Korbel,the champion of my country,played tenis with his left arm

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 8 years ago

I will sometimes do symmetrical shadow practice for the above mentioned reasons. It tends to reinforce correct motion to hence transfer the improved self image to the dominant side. It also restores the balance in the muscles.

Toni R

Toni R Posted 8 years ago

Hello! Good discussion. I would have believed that pros practice sometimes with their non-dominant hand too. here is good video about top 10 hand switch shots and Timo Boll has 4 clips there. After watching this video I think he has practiced playing with his non-dominant hand pretty much. 

In the study I mentioned before the non-dominant leg group improved more than the dominant leg group in the soccer task. They were also experienced soccer players. So I think it is worth of spending time for non-dominant hand practicing sometimes. Especially if your game is going same level long time you should change something in your training methods. Practice variability is one of the most important thing when talking about motor learning. I think non-dominant hand practice could improve your visual-spatial coordination better too, which is very important in table tennis.  


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