Table Tennis/Ball Placement

Ball placement is the basic factor that most influences the winner of a game. Mastering ball placement will make you the puppetmaster of players who have not mastered it. You can move them at will, forcing them to run from side to side, or lean back for a far shot then jump forward for a near shot. You can make your opponent catch the ball with his hand when you place your shot in a far corner that he knows won't make it (and this will happen). If you haven't gotten it yet, ball placement is very important.

Bad placementsEdit

Figuring out where not to hit the ball is just as important as placing those corner shots. This actually ties in with the section Types of Player. Here's an exercise to help: Think of shots that you love to hit, forehand, backhand (not very common), or whatever. The odds are that your opponent likes at least a few of those shots too. Do not give those to your opponent. One shot that should be avoided at all costs is a medium-to-high-bouncing ball with no spin (you'll learn about that later) that is three-quarters of an arm's length away from your opponent. That's called asking for a slam.

Good placementsEdit

Backhand vs. ForehandEdit

Most players prefer to hit balls on their forehand. That means that most players are likely to be less proficient hitting backhands than forehands. Therefore, hitting to your opponent's backhand is preferable to hitting to their forehand. This doesn't apply at all times. If you've just sent a ball to your opponent's far backhand, you might want to consider hitting to their far forehand once they return it.


The vast majority, if not all, players dislike hitting balls near their body. This is a great thing to take advantage of. One thing to consider, is that the farther away a player is from the table, the less this dislike will affect their ability to return it. Of course, the opposite also applies. If you notice that your opponent is almost or actually touching the table with their body, the next shot you make should be directed towards his body and should hit the table as far back as you feel you can make it (don't go so far that it could go off the table). After this shot, you should back off the table since their return will either hit the net (very likely), hit your side far back with moderate power (a little likely), or go off the end (even less likely).


A simple concept, and also used often in tennis, is hitting to alternating sides such that your opponent must use a considerable amount of energy to get to the balls. This is especially effective when playing in warm, humid weather in such venues as garages.

Near vs. FarEdit

A variation on the runaround is to use the same alternating concept, but instead of forehand to backhand, you hit near to far (in relation to the net). Hitting a near shot right after a far shot can certainly throw your opponent off balance. If your opponent is able to return the near shot following the far shot, continue the cycle.