In order to properly practice for your upcoming ping pong tournament, you will need some ping pong (or table tennis) equipment. Everything from ping pong tables to balls must all be regulation size for most tournaments. Modern ping pong tables measure 2.74 meters (nine feet) long, 1.5 meters (five feet) wide, and 76 centimeters (2.5 feet) tall. The net must be placed at a height of 6 inches. The ball must be 40 millimeters in diameter and made to a quality standard of three stars. This is what you will play with on the day of the tournament, but how should you practice?
Two Different Practice Styles
In professional table tennis tournaments, elite level players broadly take two different approaches to practicing. Some use the exact same equipment they will be using the day of the tournament, and others use slightly different equipment. Why?
It seems very counterintuitive to practice using equipment that you aren’t planning on playing with the day of the tournament, but there’s some logic behind the theory. Let’s look at the table tennis balls to understand it a bit better.
Three-star balls are the highest quality you can purchase. As such, they are free of any size, shape, or material imperfection. You essentially know where the ball is going to go no matter what. Pro players sometimes opt to use a lower tier ball to practice with for two reasons.
First, three-star balls are a little more expensive than the lower tiers. Second, pro players don’t get much of a chance to test their reaction times in unpredictable situations outside of a tournament setting. Unless they are practicing with their competitors or using ping pong robots, there’s likely no one who can beat them in a game. The ball itself, however, can stump even the most seasoned veterans if it takes an unexpected bounce due to imperfections.
The same logic can be applied to paddles and tables as well. Though many prefer to practice with regulation equipment, this strategy can certainly pay off big if done right. You can supplement your gameplay training with footwork drills and position-specific practice as well. Regardless of how you practice, keep on doing it.