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Table tennis exercise 3



Initiating children into the sport of table tennis requires a coach with a high level of concentration, observation, seriousness as well as technical skills. It is a generally belief that the age of 7 is considered as the most appropriate for a child to start table tennis training. This initiation should consist of 8-10 repeated sessions, each with its own specific structure and objectives. Each session should last approximately 60-75min. The coach should not progress to the next session unless the objectives of the previous are achieved.

1. First session (familiarization)

In the first session, the children familiarize themselves with the coach and the training environment. In this session, the objective is to develop a bond between the coach and the children. At this point the subject of table tennis is not talked about at all. In addition to developing a bond with children, the coach must evaluate each child's readiness, discipline, and accuracy of play. During the session the coach must watch every child's movements. This is very important for the following sessions. The coach should not forget that the aim is to increase the attention and concentration of the children and to hone their senses.

2. Second session (the ball game)

Every child needs a ball. It should be the size of a tennis ball or slightly bigger. The coach will need five hoops and a big wooden or carton box. Some common drills are:

  • Running around the room with a ball.

  • Running around the room throwing the ball in the air and catching it carefully without falling down.

  • Running around the room while bouncing the ball on the ground continuously.

  • Alternating between the above exercises whenever the coach blows his whistle.

  • The above exercises starting from the squatting position.

  • The children try to throw the ball in a hoop hanging from a wall at a height of 2-3m (the children are to aim for the center of the hoop).

  • The children try to throw the ball in a big box at a 10-15cm distance.

All the above exercises must be done in a simple way. Many children do not know to use a ball. The purpose of this session is to see to what extent the child can master the ball. In this session, the concentration level of each child should be carefully monitored.

3. Third session-The table tennis ball

In this session, the coach will need two sets of tennis balls. One set will have as many tennis balls as there are children, and the other will have 50-80 tennis balls. This session is divided into three parts. In the first part, the running exercises in the first session are repeated. In the second part, the exercises with the tennis balls are repeated in addition to some other exercises left to the coaches' inventive digression. In the third part, the coach introduces table tennis balls for the first time. The coach will show the children the size, color and weight of a table tennis ball as well as the potential speeds and spins the ball can develop. All the exercises with the tennis balls are then repeated. It is important to find as many exercises as possible that will help develop an understanding of the capabilities of the table tennis ball.

4. Fourth session-The racket and table tennis ball (I)

The equipment needed in this session is tennis balls, table tennis balls and table tennis rackets. The session is divided into three parts. The first part starts with running exercises as in previous sessions. In the second part, the tennis ball exercises are continued but at the same time great attention is paid to the bouncing of the ball. The children must discover by themselves, the required tossing height of the ball. The coach must emphasize the initial movement of the arm when tossing the ball as well as the follow through movements of the body.


  • The children bounce the ball with one hand from a standing, a sitting, a walking, a running, and a jumping position.

  • They run while bouncing the ball without chasing after it.

  • They run and bounce the ball with right and then their left hand to various heights.

  • The children do all the above exercises zigzagging through obstacles.

The aim in all the above exercises is to give symmetry and rhythm to the children's' movements. At this point, the children must learn to master their body. In the third part of the session, the children are presented with a table tennis racket for the first time. The coach will say a few words about the racket its history and how it developed into what it is now (material, shape, weight.). The children are shown both grips (European-Asian), some simple movements are shown and then the coach moves on to the first drill.

5. The racket and table tennis ball (II)

The equipment needed for this session is hoops and table tennis balls. In the first part the hoops are used.


  • The children wheel the hoops by their side while running from one side of the room to the other.

  • The children hold the hoops parallel to the floor at a height of 30-40cm jumping in and out of them with their feet joined and the knees high.

  • They throw the hoops high above them and as they fall they try to get into them.

In the second part, the coach uses the table tennis rackets and balls. The coach can have the children to balance drills with the ball on the racket. The children see how long they can keep the ball still on the racket. The coach can then proceed with the wall exercise from the previous session. If we want to make this drill more difficult we draw a line with chalk on the wall and at a height of 100-150cm, so that the ball will strike the wall over the marked height. The children must use both sides of the racket. The following step is to draw circles on the wall with a diameter of 40cm and at a height of 150cm. The children do the wall drill, but this time aiming at the center of the circle. During the session the coach checks that they are using the correct grip and little by little he starts correcting their arm movements. In the first stage, the ball strikes the floor before it is hit with the racket. In the second stage, the ball is hit before it bounces. The coach must pay great attention to the children's body movements. The mistakes must be corrected immediately. All the drills from the second part of the session can be done in pairs, to add a sense of competition.

6. Perfecting the drills

The equipment needed in this session is tennis balls, hoops, rackets and table tennis balls. This session is divided into three parts. In the first part, the drills with the tennis balls from the previous sessions are repeated. In the second part, we do the drills with the hoops. In the third part the children bounce the ball on the floor using their racket, first without moving, then walking slowly and finally walking quickly. Then they have to repeat the exercise while passing through various obstacles. If the coach wants to complicate the drill, alternate between bouncing of the ball on the ground and bouncing the ball on the racket. Both sides of the racket can be used. Great attention must be paid to the arm movements. If the children have mastered this drill we can put an obstacle in their way such as a line on the floor, a rope at a height of 75cm, or a bench. This drills in the session aim to leg coordination while the child develops a feel for hitting the ball. It is of great importance to define the order of the drills from easy to difficult, and from simple to complex.

7. The table tennis table

The equipment needed here is classic jump ropes, table tennis rackets, table tennis balls and finally a table tennis table. This session is also divided into three parts. In the first part, each child is given a jump rope. The children follow a program for improving their jump roping skills while paying careful attention to the work-rest ratio. In the second part, all the necessary exercises from the previous session using the racket and the ball are repeated. In the third part, the children are introduced to the table tennis table (minus the net) for the first time. The first basic drill is to pair the children at every table and then have one of them bounce the ball on the table diagonally while the other child lets it bounce on the floor before he hits the ball onto the table. First the children use one side of the racket, and then they use the other. Through this exercise, the children should learn to place themselves in relation to the table. They must hit the ball at its highest bouncing point. Their elbows do not leave their sides, and the shoulders remain parallel with the imaginary line drawn by the trajectory of the ball. The net is not needed at this point. It is enough for the ball to bounce on the table. When this exercise is mastered, the net is put on the table and the same drill is repeated. This exercise can be used to have small competitions to motivate the children. The movements must be checked scholastically, but it is equally important to allow the children to find the moves that will bring the best result with the least consumption of energy. With this session the circle of drills ends and the stage of introducing the table and the net is reached.

8. Table tennis training

In this session we use all the equipment used in previous sessions. The schedule is as following:

  • Running, ball drills, jump-rope drills.

  • A break followed by instruction on the racket, the grips, the table and the net as well as some of the table tennis rules.

  • Simple table tennis movements without the ball are introduced along with the appropriate leg movements. Forehand and backhand movements are taught separately and then together.

  • Gymnastics exercises for the body flexibility.

  • Gymnastics exercises for muscular strength.

  • Learning of the forehand and backhand movements separately and then both together this time at the table. The ball is placed on the racket held by the forefinger of the free hand and the movement is executed. Every child does the movement 20-30 times.

  • Rhythmical drills of bouncing the ball on the racket while increasing and decreasing the height of the bounce. This drill is done first from one side then from the other and finally one side after the other.

  • Forehand and backhand execution of movements at the table.

  • Physical conditioning exercises, jumps, horizontal bar exercises, and abdominal exercises.

  • Diagonal forehand drive with the coach (with the ball bouncing on the table). The same with the backhand drive.

  • Loosening exercises such as walking and stretching for recuperation.


Copyright © 1998,1999, by Dimosthenis E. Messinis


Last Update : 06 November, 2002

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