How do I overcome lack of response time?

Table Tennis Training and Drills

Last updated 7 years ago

Victor Mads

Victor Mads Asked 11 years ago


While playing against good faster players, I have noticed that I find switching between f/h and b/h really difficult due to lack of response time which results in losing many easy points. Is there any way in which I can improve upon this e.g. once I have returned, should I position myself in a particular way which makes it easier to use either f/h or b'h for the next return with equal ease? I am really getting frustrated with this so would highly appreciate if you could give me some advice on how this can be fixed. I also looked at your basic position video and have also tried looking at some videos of some matches. but clueless regarding how I can overcome this.

Thanks heaps!

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Answered 11 years ago

Hi Victor,

We've added a video response below.

One of the ways you will get this to improve is by tracking the ball better.  Often in this situation, we panic a little and then we lose focus on the ball.  When we are in a stressed state we don't see as clearly so this will effect our reaction time greatly.

The other thing that you can do is to get a training partner to feed you multi ball at a slightly faster speed than you would normally hit at.  At first you will find that you won't get many back but the more you train at this pace the better you will get at tracking the ball at this speed.  You will start to relax when the ball is travelling at this speed and therefore you will see the ball better and be bale to react a little quicker. 

In your training also do a lot of random drills. This means drills where you don't know where the ball is coming.  This will get you to practice this switching and tracking during your training time. 

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Thoughts on this question

Shivam Aggarwal

Shivam Aggarwal Posted 9 years ago

i would simply say that watch your opponents hand closely if hes hitting the top spin with a longer action hes goin to hit the ball cross court and if with a shorter action hes goin to hit the ball down the line....this is the way i anticipate where the ball is coming...

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

I still think he can change his wrist at the very last minute no matter what the backswing is so that he can play down the line or cross court..  What do you think?

Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 9 years ago

Alois is right watch everything very carefully. Also stand up to the table a little bit more this will enable you to get there quicker as you have less ground to cover, than if you were to stand back a bit.

The main thing is be in the ready Freddy position ready to go. The most important advice is to do what Alois suggested watch very carefully so you see what is happening and where the ball is going. I reckon Alois's advice is very good so go with that.

bertus bertus

bertus bertus Posted 9 years ago

Maybe you could do the following simple practise. It's not very easy to do depending on skill level but maybe you find it usefull.

Get yourself a partner and he/she plays the ball al over the table. (forhandcorner, middle, backhand corner, anything is allowed). And your task is to return the ball back to the other persons forehand corner (or backhand) everytime. It helps your foorwork and it makes you switch a lot between forehand and backhand.



Shivam Aggarwal

Shivam Aggarwal Posted 9 years ago

yes he can change his wrist position but by doing that he cannot hit the ball with same power and i will get time to adjust my position also & it will also make him change his game. and like this you can also play with his mind.

Dilip Khopkar

Dilip Khopkar Posted 9 years ago

I keep on watching the action of opponent while he serve, it gives the idea of the way ball will bounce in my side (as you have suggested somewhere) , it helps to decide my action. When consciously watch the ball my action gets slow. how can i improve it. Thanks in advance. 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Dilip,

Sometimes it may feel like your actions are slow because you have such good focus.  It may also feel like your opponent is hitting the ball slowly because of it.

If you are hitting the ball slowly you can focus on speeding up your contact.  This will also improve with time as your focus isn't on your focus :)

Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 9 years ago

Alois Rosario is right about all this. I used to have that same frustration switching hands (bh-fh) and I was really tense about it. After lots of practice with a partner, I resulted to have become more relaxed, focused on the ball, and this hand switch became second nature to me all of a sudden.

Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 9 years ago

Here is a weird idea. Get two baskets put them about 4-5 meters apart fill one up with quite a few balls. Pick all the balls up from one basket and put them into the other basket. Time yourself every time. Try to beat your previous time. This is called eggs in the basket a great drill for footwork-speed-reaction.

Every time you get to one end to pick up a ball emagine you are changing from a forehand shot to a left hand shot. Remember soon as you pick up one ball in your hand don't wait run as fast as you can to put it in the other basket.

Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 9 years ago

Someone once told me that aside from tracking the ball with your eyes, you should also follow that ball with your feet. He said, "Think happy feet".

Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 9 years ago

This was because some people had the bad habit of stretching their arm to get the ball without moving at all. This made playing the game more difficult for them and I myself when I first started.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

That is a good tip Esteban.  Balance is really important.

Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 9 years ago

That is a good idea as we all know footwork is the most important thing in table tennis. Think happy feet is a great idea. I wish my footwork was a lot better, but i am still working on that. When i don't move it gives me the pips. Hampers my game so i will think happy feet, it seems like a good way of thinking.

Thanks Esteban good advice for all ping skillers.

Jon Ferguson

Jon Ferguson Posted 9 years ago

My thoughts are that the so called "ready position" that many players are taught, especially at the lower levels, can be a handicap at the higher levels where the ball is moving much much  faster.

The ready position was a sound method to learn back when the game was played at a much slower pace, but I believe it is outdated.

As Alois said, "tracking", or following the path of the ball, both to and from the racket, is a more practical solution.

Moving to the ready position is good advice for the novice to get them to come back to a central position, but more advanced players simply don't have enough time to do so. Besides, as you're moving to this central position, your opponent could be hitting the ball to exactly the area where you just were.

Anticipation and tracking the ball will improve your modern day game much more than the outdated central position theory, at least in my experience.

I'd like to hear Alois or Jeff, or anyone else, come in with their thoughts on this.



Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Very much agree Jon.  The game is way too fast to be thinking about getting back to a central position each time.

nate s

nate s Posted 9 years ago

Is an easy one.. Before a match take a table tennis ball and move it around out in front of you (like you're hypnotizing yourself) this may or may not work for you but the goal is to get it natural to follow the ball.

Another thing you can try is standing on the right or left side of the table and aline yourself with the net so that you are now covering the whole table. Have a partner stand opposite of you and have he/she hit table tennis balls to your back hand or forehand. this will improve footwork, but also should help reactions.

Benji Bear

Benji Bear Posted 8 years ago

I recently tried waiting to take my bat back until after the ball had hit the table.

I found it focussed my mind and eyes on the ball better and helped prevent me from moving to far from the ball.
E.g. guessing where the ball will be abd wildly swiping at the ball too soon.

Nothing however beats practising over and over with close to correct technique.

The more practice you get trying to play fast the faster you will get.

stefan grant

stefan grant Posted 8 years ago

My one is to simply watch the ball more than what the other persons doing with their hand. Don't only look at the hand, judge the balls movement on the table.

Kaustubh Kulkarni

Kaustubh Kulkarni Posted 7 years ago

While playing a match, I look and concentrate at the ball wherever it goes even after the point is over. I just keep my sight on the ball. This really helps.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago

Tracking the ball is one. But what about getting back into ready position Alois? That is

a) get the bat back into neutral position

b) get the body back into ready position, either at 1/3 of the BH position or diagonally opposed to where the opponent is

We have some drills on that at our club. Play 1 to 10 shots down the line and the partner decides when to cross it diagonally. The player returns to ready position after each shot.

Kaustubh Kulkarni

Kaustubh Kulkarni Posted 7 years ago

I agree with you Dieter. I liked your drill. I will tell players in my club to start this drill.

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