Table Tennis Warm-Ups: What exercises to do

A proper table tennis warm-ups with the right exercises are imperative if you want to avoid unfortunate injuries. Also, your muscles and reflexes can be enhanced and trained to reach the best performance by pre-match exercising.

We will guide you through activities that you can instantly utilize in your training. As warming-up plays an integral part in your game. You’d better take them seriously and make sure it is done before going into the competition.

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1. Start: cardio workouts

1.1 Exercises to increase heart rate

  • Time: About 2 minutes
  • Training Guide:

In this part, you will do freestyle movements such as running, jogging, marching, jumping.  The purpose of these exercises is to help your body switch from a normal and relaxed condition to a more active and dynamic condition.

Exercises focus on large muscle groups and let your heart rate get used to the strong and continuous actions.

1.2 Side-to-side movements

  • Time: About 3 minutes
  • Training Guide:

Next, you’ll do side-to-side moving exercises. For example, you can run from the left to right side of the table, practice left-to-right swings, or cross your arms.

The purpose of these exercises is to help unleash the body’s posture to facilitate reflex exercises that we are going to do in the next part.

Table Tennis Warm-Ups

2. Acceleration: stretching exercises

In the second stage of the warm-up before your ping pong game, players need to stretch both their large muscle groups and partial muscle groups.

They need to do a lot of movement when playing ping pong, this involves muscles and parts of the body such as hand, wrist, neck-head, shoulder, knee joint…

When you warm up your muscle groups properly, you will avoid injury during the competition. Moreover, stretching exercises help increase the endurance and dynamism of the muscles.

When stretching you should do it from head to toe. Exercises for each body part should last for 2-3 minutes. Exercises involved your hand and wrist should be longer.

2.1 Head-neck

You can do this exercise in a comfortable sitting position. You sit and inhale-exhale gently, cross your legs and put your hands resting on your knees.

You now rotate your head from left to right, up and down. You need to remember to only move the head and neck muscles, your posture and other muscle groups stay in place.

This exercise needs to be done gently, it is required not to turn your neck abruptly.

Head-neck in Table tennis Warm Ups

2.2 Shoulder and arms

Next to the arm and shoulder muscles, the best move is to do it like you are swimming. You can rotate both arms in the same direction.

First, you move both arms in the clockwise direction, then you rotate both hands counterclockwise. After that, your hands can move in opposite directions.

In this exercise, you should start slowly and then speed up. Don’t rush to rotate your hand quickly from the beginning.

Shoulder and arms in Table Tennis

2.3 Back and hips

To stretch the muscles in your back and hips, stand in a comfortable and relaxed position.

You reach up with one arm as high as you can, while the other hand stays still and keeps alongside your body.

Raise your arm straight up and try to reach the highest point as you can without tiptoeing. Hold that position for 10 seconds, then switch to the other arm and do the same movements.

2.4 Abdominal muscles

You can do standing push-ups or lying push-ups. If the exercise is too much for some starters or female players, they can switch to plank. Its purpose is to get the lower part of your body warming up.

Since the previous moves are primarily focused on the upper body. A few push-ups can kick start and make the lower body catch up with your momentum.

2.5 Thigh muscles

Hamstring Lunge

This exercise helps you stretch your back and hips. You start in a standing up position, then, taking a step forward, lower your body down, nearly bend one knee.

Next, you stretch your arms downward, your fingers touch the ground. Then, you lift your back leg and hips up, fingers still in place. Repeat the above movements with the other leg.

Hamstring Lunge - Table Tennis

Twisting lunge

This exercise helps your hips and abdomen be more flexible. The leg and thigh muscles are well trained too.

You start with an upright position. Then, take a step back with one of your legs, lower your body as if you are proposing.

At the same time, you twist your upper body in the opposite direction of your bending leg. Repeat the movements with the other leg

Twisting lunge in table tennis Warm-ups

2.6 Wrist exercise

For this exercise, you need a rubber ball the size of your palm. You will squeeze and move the ball in your palm. This increases the strength of your fingers and makes your wrist more flexible. If possible, you can use rubber balls of different elasticities.

So we have done some exercises to warm up from head to toe. You should work harder on the arms, hips, and legs.

The acceleration part should last about 15-20 minutes. Then, you are good to move on to skill-drilling exercises.

3. Skill focused exercises

The important thing when doing these exercises is that you don’t overdo them. Please, don’t push yourself too hard.

Because your body will become tired. And you will no longer perform the correct technique.

Worse than that, you’ll remember these wrong techniques which jeopardize your overall progress. So, the principle is to do it properly.

With skill exercises, you need to practice with another player. There are four basic exercises to warm up for you before the match. They are forehand training, backhand training, change from forehand to backhand strokes, and vice versa.

3.1 Practice forehand strokes

Practice Forehand Strokes in table tennis

You should start with forehand strokes to get used to the paddle and the ball. Familiarizing yourself with the game, table and everything is crucial.

Ping pong is much as bout the sensation as skills. You can ask your partner to speed up the ball gradually but focus on the forehand strokes only.

3.2 Practice backhand strokes

Practice backhand strokes in table tennis

After practicing forehand strokes for about 2-3 minutes, you move on to backhand strokes. For professional players, the backhand strokes are not a difficult one to master. For those who are newbies, you should practice slowly and let the instructor correct the hand posture for you.

The instructor should adjust your holding of the paddle and your returning the ball to make sure you get the backhand strokes right.

3.3 Practice switch from forehand to backhand strokes and vice versa

Next, you and your partner will practice back-and-forth with a forehand stroke and a backhand stroke.

So you have completed the basic hand positions. There is just one more exercise left. And you are ready to enter the official match.

3.4 Practice topspins

Topspins are essential for you to win points. Therefore, you should spend a little more time practicing this skill.

You might want to do both forehand and backhand topspins like in a real match. Let imagine that in front of you stand your opponent in a  fierce competition.

To do the ball topspins, the players need to move their whole bodies to help you focus easily. You must always keep your eye on the ball. After practicing the warm-ups, you are alert and ready to go into battle.

After doing physical activities, don’t forget you need a wind-down time.

You need to get relaxed by gently exercising. Some movements allow your muscles to return to their resting state.

Otherwise, problems such as muscle tension, aches, and pains will happen and make your body suffer.

You can also rest for a while and take a shower afterward. One piece of advice though, taking a cold shower after a workout is a bad idea.

Even if you’re hot and sweaty, you need to sit back and take a break. You only take bath 30 minutes after exercising. And the ideal temporary for you is 35-37 degrees Celsius.

Further Reading:

Table Tennis Warm-Up – Topend Sports

The 5-Minute Warm-Up for Any Sport | Outside Online

Warming up – Wikipedia

Closing Thoughts

We have always emphasized the importance of warm-ups in table tennis.

You should practice every time you start the game, follow specific steps, and exercises outlined above.

With the first two parts, you can do the exercises at self-pace. These activities should be about 15-20 minutes to warm you up. As for skill drills, you should involve another player. An experienced player to help you adjust your technique.

With the thoroughly accelerating warn-ups, I’m sure you would be more than ready to join the game.