These five tips won’t generally help you win, at least not directly. They won’t score points for you. But they will make certain non-playing aspects more efficient and more fun – and indirectly, may subconsciously intimidate an opponent when faced with these displays of “professionalism”!
- Picking up ball with feet. If the ball hits the ground, the point is over, and someone has to pick it up. But if it’s bouncing more than a few inches, why lean down when, with a tap of your foot, you can bounce it up in the air and catch it? You’ve probably seen players do this. How do you learn to do it? By practicing! Drop a ball on the floor, wait until it’s bouncing somewhat low, and then tap it with the balls of your foot. With a little practice, you’ll be able to control it so it bounces right into your hands. Bonus – if the ball is lying on the floor stationary, you can also pick it up by putting both feet on each side, and lightly jumping. This lifts the ball up enough so that you can then tap it with your foot and into your hands.
- Returning balls to other courts with backspin. Nothing screams “Amateur!” more than picking up a loose ball from another court and wildly smacking it back at them. “Pros” do it professionally – they backspin it with a simple chopping motion, as if serving forehand backspin. This makes the ball float relatively slowly and on a line right at the person you are hitting the ball to. The backspin also makes it travel much farther so you can return the ball even to someone way off in the distance, and they can catch it easily. How do you learn to do this? Practice a few times, and it becomes easy!
- Measuring net with your racket. Is the net six inches? You could bring a net measurer or some other measuring device. (Dollar bills are exactly six inches.) But there’s a simpler way – the sponge on most rackets, from tip to handle, is usually exactly six inches. Measure yours to be sure. Then, at the start of any match, just hold the racket next to the next, tip down, and see if it’s the right height. If not, adjust it.
- Backspin to hide the ball. Most matches start with one of the players hiding the ball under the table in one hand, with the opponent trying to choose which hand the ball is in. But why not do this with flair? If you are hiding the ball, put the ball on the table, put your index finger on the top near side of the ball, and press down, spinning the ball away from you with backspin. With a little practice, you can make it so the spurts out, then returns because of the backspin. Let it pass the endline, catch it in both hands, and then spread your hands under table with the ball in one hand. An impressive way to start a match!
- Dress like a pro. If you dress like one, your opponent will subconsciously think more highly of you, and that might subconsciously intimidate him. Better still, if you dress like a pro, you’ll subconsciously feel like a pro, and so are more likely to play like one!