Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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Table Tennis Footwork

Read about Balance, Positioning, and Timing

Balance, Positioning, and Timing
By Samson Dubina
“My arms are long, I can reach for 95% of the balls.
Do I really have to move my feet?”
“Yes Bob, you do have to move!  Just because you can reach the ball,
doesn’t mean that you can hit with the proper amount of
speed, spin, and control to the proper location and
be ready to play the next ball!
I have had this conversation countless times during the last decade!  If a player wants to build a solid foundation or if a player wants to improve his current level, most of the time it all comes down to establishing better footwork.  Better footwork is comprised of hundreds of elements, but today, I want to focus on the 3 main aspects – balance, positioning, and timing.
Balance is the key to power, the key to accuracy, and the key to consistency.  If you can properly move both feet quickly in position and have a slight weight transfer as you hit, then you can have the best possible quality on the current ball and the best recovery for the next ball.  To stay balanced, you need to have your knees bent, stay slightly on your toes, move quickly into position, and try to have your body stopped before making contact with the ball.  If you are still running as you make contact, then the accuracy on the current ball and recover for the next will be nearly impossible!
Positioning is the key to being able to hit where you want.  For example, if you opponent hits a ball to your wide backhand, and you reach out and touch the inside of the ball, it will likely be a weak shot down the line.  Would you like to place the ball at a sharp angle or deep to the middle or with quality to any desired location?  I hope so.  Well you need to move and position yourself for that shot.  Positioning is more than just getting there.  Positioning is finding the right place with your feet to hit to the desired location with the right shot.
Timing is related to both the footwork and stroke.  Getting the proper footwork to hit the correct timing sometimes involves a bit of moving in or moving out.  Moving in is important when returning short or half-long serves or to block a spinny loop that hit short on the table or to smash a short ball or to loop an off-paced block.  Moving out is important for smashing deep lob or after returning a short serve or sometimes even when transitioning between block and counterloop.  Most player know the importance of timing, but few are aware that the foundational pillar of timing is proper footwork!
As we begin the year 2020, I want you to make it your goal to move for every shot!  As you learn to move, you will begin understanding the value of balance, positioning, and timing!  Best wishes in 2020!  I hope to see you here at the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy very soon!