I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at ping pong. Of the sports I’m amazing at, such as go kart racing and baseball, ping pong is easily my second best sport. Go kart racing is a distant third because I don’t get to do it much. But was I always good at ping pong? No way. It took me two weeks to win my first match. So how did I get so good? Simple:
Step 1: Just hit the ball
This seems easy, but for whatever reason, hitting a ping pong ball back over the net and onto the table is a challenge for some people. Maybe it’s the paddle, maybe it’s the fact that you can’t understand the difference between ping pong and regular tennis. YOU DON’T NEED TO HIT IT AS HARD AS YOU CAN.
All you need to do at first is get an understanding of how it feels to return a ping pong ball over the net. Just volley for a bit. Figure out what the ball does when it’s hit low to you, when it’s hit high, to your forehand, and to your backhand. Focus on defense first. Then…
Step 2: Use your wrists
Once you’re comfortable hitting the ball back, you can start getting aggressive. If a return comes back above your bellybutton, slam it. But how? If you just hit it as hard as you can, it’s either going straight into the net or it’s going to hit your opponent in the face, which is fun, but not worth losing a point.
Instead, it’s all in the wrist action. It takes time, but on a forehand slam, you only need to rotate your wrist forward 45 degrees. You start at about 2 o’clock and end at 10 o’clock counterclockwise. It puts a lot of topspin on the ball and makes it really difficult to return.
When you master that, you can try the backhand slam. It works the same way, only you start your wrist at 10 o’clock and end at 1 o’clock because technically your wrist isn’t supposed to make that motion. If you can’t do it, you’re just not as good as I am.
Step 3: Study your opponent
Recognize their tendencies. Where do they usually hit the ball based on where your return lands? Where does the ball typically go depending on how they return your serve? Where do their slams land? How high does a given ball typically bounce? When you know the answers to all of these questions, you can play two or three steps ahead.
Step 4: Dominate
Get creative. Put different spins on the ball. Clip the net. Clip the edge. Give a smirk when you’re just wiping the floor with someone. Come up with your own catch phrase.
For example, during my 60-game doubles win streak, I would routinely hit laser backhand slams down the near line. As the ball sailed past my defenseless opponent, I’d say “#RIPChrisKyle.” Why? Because I’m a mother effing sniper.
You now have my keys to success. Go find a table and kill it.