How to Practice Ping Pong by Yourself

Posted by Tiger PingPong on 25th Jul 2022

How to Practice Ping Pong Solo

There's a big dilemma in ping pong. If you want to  get good at ping pong, you need to practice, but anyone who has played the game for a short while will know that it's often hard to practice table tennis alone. It can be equally as hard to find a partner who you can play with on your schedule and at the level you need. Using a coach is an option; however, that can get expensive quickly. For most ping pong enthusiasts, the best option is to practice alone. We've got some tips to help!

What are the three main ways to practice table tennis alone?

  1. Using a ping pong robot
  2. With a table folded up
  3. Using a return board

In this article, we'll go over each in more detail and give you a few exercises you can use to help play at a higher level but first, a few common questions about practicing table tennis.

Commonly Asked Questions About Playing Table Tennis Alone

Orange ping pong ball on a table with a ping pong paddle on top of the ball.

Can you play table tennis by yourself?

You bet. That's what this article is mostly about. Playing ping pong by yourself has many advantages. One of the major pros of this type of play is that you can do it almost anywhere at any time. You don't need to schedule a session with your partner or coach. Just pick up your paddle and get started.

What Is the Best Way for a Player to Practice Solo Table tennis?

Using a table tennis robot is one of the best ways to practice ping pong alone. We'll go into more details below.

When should I practice solo table tennis?

You can practice ping pong any time, day or night!

Where should I practice solo table tennis?

For the most part, you can practice anywhere. We've got a few tricks to help you master the game without any equipment so keep reading for more.

How often should I practice ping pong?

You should practice at least a couple of times a week for 30 minutes. That said, whether you are one of the top players or a beginner, consistency is the most important factor. Those who stick with it consistently will greatly improve their game.

How long does it take to get good at ping pong?

To become good at ping pong, it'll take 10 to 15 years of dedicated practice to master the game. Usually, this is equal to the 10,000-hour rule. However, you can become proficient, play the game well and enjoy the game with far fewer hours.

The rest of this article is dedicated to helping you get there quicker, even if you don't have a partner or a coach.

How to Practice Ping Pong Alone Without a Companion

With a table tennis robot

Ping pong robot with return catch net.

Using a ping pong robot is likely the best way to play table tennis alone. It's versatile and is ready to play when you are.

A ping pong robot is a machine that can shoot table tennis balls toward you so you can practice your strokes and footwork. They are becoming increasingly popular and more affordable. With a robot, you can practice an unlimited amount of shots any time you want. A machine also provides the benefit of consistency and accuracy. It's like having a professional playing with you in your house whenever you want!

You can program the device to shoot balls in specific patterns or simulate a game with random shots. This allows you to practice table tennis in a realistic way, like in a match but also have the control to drill shots you want to work on.

For example, if you want to master hitting the backhand, you can set the robot to shoot only backhand balls. Or, you can set your robot up to drill a specific pattern of shots that have been challenging you. This is an ideal way to advance your table tennis skills without having a coach's cost and scheduling conflicts.

Can a table tennis robot help you improve?

Close up of a table tennis robot loaded with orange Robo Balls from Newgy.

Yes, absolutely. Using a practice robot on a regular basis will help improve your technique. Regular practice with a robot will also allow you to discover different techniques and ways of hitting shots. It can also help you bust through sticking points in your game.

Fold the ping pong table

Blue ping pong table in the half folding position for practicing ping pong alone.

For those with a small space, purchasing a folding ping pong table will give you a way to practice and make efficient use of your space. This is also the most common and economical way to get some solo practice in.

You can use other common household furniture if you don't have a folding table. Many people start out by placing a kitchen or dining room table against a solid wall. Of course, be sure to use a table and wall that you're okay with having a few scuff marks on them.

One of the benefits of using a folded table is the speed at which the ball comes back to you. Your game will become quite snappy. On the other side of the coin, however, you are limited with the types of shots you can practice, and the returns can be somewhat predictable.

With a return board

Using a return board is similar to using folding ping pong tables. The return board is placed at the opposite end of the table. Usually, the board will have different "zones" that you can hit towards. The challenge with a return board is similar to a folding table. Because the return board is further away from the net, it can take some practice to get the ball to come back to you. You'll need to spend a little bit of time setting up the board for a proper return.

Table tennis drills

There are many ways to practice ping pong. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, table tennis drills will help you become a better player by teaching you specific skills, and to a certain extent, the rules of ping pong. Good drills will challenge you by forcing you to try different shots that will keep you playing ping pong more effectively.

What are the top 10 training drills in table tennis?

Many orange ping pong balls on a ping pong table with a net.

  1. One backhand, one forehand

    This is a great drill to get warmed up and work on your footwork. For this drill, you will alternate between backhand and forehand shots. It's best to pick a target on your opponent's side of the table and aim to hit it with each return. Start at a slow speed and gradually work up to a faster pace.

  2. Two backhands, two forehands

    Just like the last drill only you will do two of each shot before switching.

  3. Backhand, middle, backhand, wide

    This is a variation of the first drill. Here, instead of picking a single target to hit, your forehand shots will place the ball in alternating zones. The pattern goes like this: backhand, forehand down the middle, backhand, forehand wide.

  4. One forehand, one middle, one backhand, one middle

    Another variation on the last exercise. Get your feet moving and your mind in a zone.

  5. Five forehands

    This drill will get your feet moving. It's all about balance and practicing your footwork. It goes like this; forehand from the middle, forehand from the backhand side, forehand from the middle, forehand from the forehand side.

  6. One-Step Footwork 
    In this drill, you'll want to use your training robot. Here's how to set it up. 1. Set the Oscillator Control lever to 2,5 (narrow sweep range). 2. Adjust oscillator speed, so balls are placed at each end of the sweep range.  3. Hit the ball coming to your forehand court with forehand strokes. Hit balls coming to your backhand court with backhand strokes.
  7. Serve accuracy under pressure

    Here you will practice ping pong serves under pressure. This drill aims to hit a target ten times in a row from your serve. You'll notice as you get closer to 10 that your nerves will come into play, which will help you keep steady under pressure.

    Here's how to do this exercise: Place a target (e.g. a piece of paper) on your opponent’s half of the table. Choose one serve and aim for the second bounce to hit the target. Keep serving until you hit the target ten times in a row. If you miss the target, start again from zero.

  8. Serve target practice

    Like the previous drill, you'll work on your serve accuracy. In this one, set multiple targets on the receiving end of the table. Rotate through each target. Only move to the next target when you hit the previous target.

  9. Flick or topspin

    This exercise will require your training robot. Here you'll practice returning serves. Set your robot up to alternate between short and long serves. You will return the serve with either a flick or topspin shot. The goal is to attack your opponent.

  10. Faulkenberg

    For this final drill, you'll need a robot again. Set your robot to the correct pattern and work your feet. Here's a short video on how to do this drill.

Other ways to improve without a partner

A single red ping pong paddle on a white table.

What are the top 6 tips to improve table tennis?

  1. Watch others
    Yes, check out coaching videos on YouTube. See how the pros work their magic. You can try to emulate them when you are playing table tennis.

  2. Stay in shape

    Ping pong is a fast-paced sport that demands a lot from the body. Physical training is a vital part of any ping pong training regiment. Do regular cardio sessions of 30 minutes or more to keep your fitness in check. You can run on a treadmill or use a stationary bike at a steady pace. Because table tennis often has a burst of speed, you will also want to work on your anaerobic capacity by doing interval training.

  3. Use shadow play

    Shadow play is when you practice table tennis in front of a mirror. You will use your imagination to play a match. While going through the motions, watch yourself in the mirror and adjust accordingly. Try to emulate the players you saw in the video above.

  4. Practice your footwork

    Professional ping pong player stretching out to hit a shot. The footwork of a master.

    Ping pong is a bit like dancing. You always need to move your feet in the right way. Practicing your footwork will help you master one of the most important aspects of table tennis. Start by watching the pros. Pick a few shots to start with and repeat the proper footsteps until you've mastered them.

  5. Practice your serve

    Another critical part of table tennis is the serve. It sets the tone for every point. You can practice your serve alone without a partner. We recommend that you pick one type of serve and drill it. Use a target on the opponent's side of the table to help guide your shots and give you an extra challenge.

  6. Mental training

    Keep your mind sharp with visualization.

Final thoughts on how to practice table tennis alone

Becoming a better player doesn't happen overnight. It takes serious training to master the game. Even if you can only practice ping pong by yourself, it can still be a lot of fun. As you become a better player, you'll discover more ways to improve your game and learn different shots.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out and play!