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Table Tennis Positioning - Back to Base-ics

All Your Base Are Belong to Us...


Photo of Basic Ready Position

Basic Ready Position

(c) 2006 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
In this article I'm going to put down some thoughts for those table tennis players out there who have mastered the basic techniques of the sport and are looking for other areas in which to improve their game.

In particular, I'm going to talk about the subject of base positioning in table tennis. By this I mean the skill of positioning yourself on the court during a rally so that you can play your best table tennis.

Why Base Positioning?

Yes, it's a bit of a strange name, I know. But I like to think of this skill as base positioning because it reminds me of the base camps used in Arctic expeditions or mountain climbing. A base camp is used as a safe starting point from which explorers or climbers go to more dangerous territory. In table tennis, your base position is the place on the court that gives you the best chance of coping with your opponent's upcoming stroke, and from which you can move as needed to reach the ball.

Base Positioning - Basic(!) Concepts

Stay Neutral

In general, it's a good idea to adopt a ready position and stance that allows you to play both forehand and backhand with ease. I'm not going to go into huge amounts of detail about this in this particular article, but here's a quick summary of what to do.

For right handers, keep your feet either square to the line of play (see further below for an explanation of line of play) or the right foot a little bit behind the left foot. Keep the feet wide apart - typically a fair bit wider than shoulder width - check out the professionals in action for examples of just how wide they go. You should be crouching forward a little, and your elbows will be roughly shoulder width apart, with the tip of the bat pointing forward. I'll talk a little more below about where exactly to point the tip of the bat.

The basic idea is that it should be easy to hit both forehand and backhand from this position - the forehand by simply turning the shoulders to the right, and the backhand by rotating the forearm 90 degrees towards your torso.

What's Your Angle?

Face the Ball, Not the Endline

Don't Point Your Bat at the Ball

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