Most table tennis movement is side-to-side, and so you need to practice this a lot. Here are three drills you should be doing - but only do the second when you are proficient with the first, and only do the third when you are proficient with the second. At all levels you should do all three, even the more basic first one - just do it faster and quicker. All three drills can be done either with a partner, where you return each shot to the same spot (partner's forehand or backhand - most often it's the backhand), or with a partner or coach feeding multiball.
- Drill One: Side to Side Forehand and Backhand. Your partner hits the ball side to side, alternating. Your focus is on consistency and strong shots. As you advance, take the ball quicker.
- Drill Two: Side to Side Random Forehand and Backhand, Two Spots. Your partner hits the ball randomly either to your forehand or backhand. Your focus is on reacting, not anticipating. Make sure your first move is the right move. Don't rush - you have more time then you think.
- Drill Three: Side to Side Random Whole Table. Your partner hits the ball randomly anywhere, focusing on going to the corners and middle (your playing elbow, roughly midway between forehand and backhand). Your focus is on reacting, not anticipating, while also covering shots to the middle. Make sure your first move is the right move. On shots to the middle favor your strongest shot, whether it's forehand or backhand, but make sure to move into position to do so.