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Beginner/Intermediate 1 Hour Table Tennis Training Program

Training for the Time Poor...

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Diagram of Basic Forehand Drill

Basic Forehand Drill

© 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
For those of you out there who can only sneak in an hour of training here and there, I've put together a sample table tennis training session, outlining a number of drills, and how long to perform each drill.

I'll explain in more detail later in the article the reasoning behind the drills selected and the times chosen. As for any advice given, feel free to modify the outline to suit your own individual needs and preferences.

Sample One Hour Table Tennis Training Session Outline

Pre-Session
Warm up

0 Minute Mark
Forehand to Forehand Counterhit - 2½ min
Backhand to Backhand Counterhit - 2½ min

5 Minute Mark
Forehand Loop to Block - 5 min
Swap roles 5 min

15 Minute Mark
Backhand Loop to Block - 5 min
Swap roles - 5 min

25 Minute Mark
Falkenberg Drill - 5 min
Swap roles - 5 min

35 Minute Mark
Loop to Loop - 5 min
OR
Smash to Lob - 2½ min
Swap roles - 2½ min

40 Minute Mark
Push to Push - 5 min

50 Minute Mark
Serve, Return, Open - 5 min
Swap roles

1 Hour Mark
Cool down

Explanation of the Training Outline

Pre-Session
Warm up

Even though this training session is only an hour long, that doesn't mean that you should ignore getting an adequate warm up. You'll be doing some drills that are going to require a lot of your body, so make sure you are warmed up and fully stretched before beginning to avoid getting injured.

0 Minute Mark
Forehand to Forehand Counterhit - 2½ min
Backhand to Backhand Counterhit - 2½ min

This counterhitting drill is just a quick way of making sure that you get adjusted to the conditions. Forget about hitting the ball hard and concentrate on consistency. You should be aiming to hit as many balls in a row as you can, so that you you get your eye in and are ready to hit the ground running in the next exercise.

5 Minute Mark
Forehand Loop to Block - 5 min
Swap roles - 5 min

This is the first real drill of the session. The idea is for one player to be using his forehand attack (loop or drive, whichever is preferred), while the other player provides a steady block to make sure the first player is working hard. Beginners should focus on keeping the drill simple so that their success ratio is at least 70-80. I'd also recommend that beginners use a simple topspin serve, to make it easier to get straight into working the forehand attack.

Intermediate players can add other variations to the drill, such as the blocker varying the placement of the ball, or using a proper serve and serve return, then a forehand open. I've got a number of suggested forehand drill variations for intermediate players.

15 Minute Mark
Backhand Loop to Block - 5 min
Swap roles - 5 min

This is similar to the previous exercise, but from the backhand side. I have a number of more advanced backhand drill variations for intermediate players.

25 Minute Mark
Falkenberg Drill - 5 min
Swap roles - 5 min

Now that the forehand and backhand attacks have been drilled, you can move onto a footwork drill which combines both elements. The Falkenberg drill is a classic example, but any drill that combines forehand, backhands, and footwork will do the job.

Most players find 5 minutes of concentrated footwork practice is more than enough before needing a rest. Again, the emphasis is on footwork practice - if you are not getting through at least 2-3 cycles of the drill, slow down.

35 Minute Mark
Loop to Loop - 5 min
OR
Smash to Lob - 2½ min
Swap roles - 2½ min

Having done a few intense drills, now it's time for a fun drill for 5 minutes or so for a change of pace. Both the loop to loop or smash to lob drills are unlikely to last more than a few strokes if done properly, but it's a nice change to be able to go all out on your strokes for a while, after spending the first 35 minutes training your consistency.

40 Minute Mark
Push to Push - 5 min

The push is not a glamorous stroke, and tends to get ignored by new players. This is not a good idea, as many players find out the first time they play an opponent with a consistent push and good spin variation. Spend 5 minutes pushing the ball to all locations of the table, varying spin and speed. Don't forget to use proper footwork as well. A steady and consistent push is needed at all levels of the game, so do not skip this drill.

50 Minute Mark
Serve, Return, Open - 5 min
Swap roles

After concentrating on stroke play for the first 50 minutes, spend the last 10 minutes practicing your serve and serve return. I'd personally recommend dropping the 5 minutes of loop to loop in the middle of the session to spend an extra 2½ minutes each on serving practice, which will probably be more useful to you.

One player should serve, using his full repertoire of serves, and his playing partner should return the serve, trying to make the return hard to attack. The server should then try to initiate his third ball attack, while the receiver is trying to prevent the server from attacking so that he can start his own fourth ball attack.

If you are looking for a bit more variety in your serve practice, I have a number of suggested serve and serve return drills to choose from. Again, keep things simple to start with, and when you are achieving a high rate of success, move to more complicated drills.

Depending on your training partner, you may or may not wish to have the server repeat serves that are giving the receiver trouble. Repeating the serve until the receiver learns to return it can make it harder to beat your training partner, but it should also improve your training and allow you both to get better faster. You need to decide whether it's more important to beat your training partner or everybody else!

1 Hour Mark
Cool down

A cool down period is needed after any training session, so make sure you at least spend a few minutes walking around to get your heart rate down gradually, and do another round of stretches to help prevent developing any muscle soreness.

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