Speed in Table Tennis

Table tennis is one of the racket sports that require players rapid reflexes and swift movements. Despite the small playing area that the sport demands, a table tennis player must be able to change directions quickly and move fast in order to follow and hit the ball both sideways and in and out of the table while maintaining proper form and correct posture.

There are several table tennis training programs that can be followed to improve the player’s overall speed and one of the widely performed are the ladder agility drills.

Ladder agility training, also called ladder speed training, is a kind of drill training that involves following certain footwork patterns across a ladder laid flat on the ground. This training caters to the development of the player’s overall quickness, agility, foot speed, stability and coordination, all of which are motor skills vital to the sport.

Drills

Ladder agility drills are usually done at the start of a training session right after the warm-up exercises. To ensure good quality training, proper form has to be maintained throughout the drill. Not only because proper form prevents one from having injuries but also because it is through getting proper form down first that players can develop good motor patterns that would allow them to optimize their movements and increase their speed.

So what are the rules to ensure maintenance of proper form while performing ladder drills? See the guidelines below.

 

Guidelines for Ladder Drills

  • Drop your hips.
  • Slightly bend your knees.
  • Keep your heels a bit elevated.
  • Bend your arms at 90 degrees.
  • Keep your upper body upright and straight.
  • Allow your arms to pump forward and back.
  • Land on the balls of your feet always.
  • Do not drag your feet across the ladder.

Now that we are properly guided on what form to maintain, we can now proceed with the actual ladder drill patterns. There are a number of ladder drill patterns one can perform and below are a few.

Remember: Avoid touching the rungs of the ladder. This is why although it is more economical to improvise and draw a ladder on the floor (using chalks, markers or tape), having an actual ladder is preferred because it helps players achieve accuracy and precision.

 

Top 6 Ladder Drills for Table Tennis!

Drill # 1 – Two-Foot Run

1. Stand at the bottom of the ladder. Make sure your feet are set a hip width apart.
2. Lift either of your feet (this will be the lead foot) and land into the first square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
3. Quickly push your lead foot off the ground and land into the second square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
4. Repeat the patter until you reach the end of the ladder and back to the bottom with your other foot being the lead foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drill # 2 – Side Steps

1. Stand at the bottom of the ladder facing to the side. If you are facing left, your lead foot should be the your right foot. Otherwise, the lead foot would be your left foot.2. Lift your lead foot and land into the first square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
3. Immediately push your lead foot off the first square and land into the second square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
4. Repeat the pattern until you reach the end of the ladder.
5. Once you reach the end of the ladder, face to the other side so that your other foot is now the lead foot. Repeat the pattern until you reach the bottom of the ladder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drill # 3 – In-Out Drill

1. Stand at the bottom of the ladder. Make sure your feet are set a hip width apart.
2. Lift your left foot (this will be your lead foot) and land into the first square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
3. Quickly push your lead foot off the ground and land to the left, outside the second square followed by the other foot landing to the right, outside the second square.
4. Lift your lead foot off the ground and land into the third square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
5. Repeat the pattern until you reach the end of the ladder and back to the bottom with your other foot being the lead foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drill # 4 – Two In, Two Out Drill

1. Stand at the bottom of the ladder. Make sure your feet are set a hip width apart.
2. Lift your left foot (this will be your lead foot) and land into the first square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
3. Quickly push your lead foot off the ground and land to the left, outside the second square followed by the other foot landing to the right, outside the second square.
4. Lift your lead foot off the ground and land into the second square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
5. Repeat the pattern until you reach the end of the ladder and back to the bottom with your other foot being the lead foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drill # 5 – Lateral Feet Drill

1. Stand to the left bottom part of the ladder with your feet set a hip width apart.
2. Lift your left foot (this will be your lead foot) off the ground and land into the first square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
3. Push your lead foot off the ground and land to the right, outside the first square followed immediately by the other foot. (Note: This is a lateral drill. Your one foot should not cross over the other. The key here is to quickly follow the lead foot once it pushes off the ground.)
4. Lift your lead foot once again and step diagonally into the second square followed by the other foot.
5. Push your lead foot off the ground and land to the left, outside of the second square followed by the other foot.
6. Repeat the pattern until you reach the end of the ladder and back to the bottom with your other foot being the lead foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drill # 6 – Icky Shuffle

1. Stand at the bottom of the ladder. Make sure your feet are set a hip width apart.
2. Lift your left foot (this will be your lead foot) off the ground and land into the first square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
3. Push your lead foot off the ground and land to the left, outside the second square
4. Quickly lift your other foot and land into the second sqaure followed by the lead foot landing into the same square.
5. Push your other foot again off the ground and land to the right, outside the third square.
6. Push your left foot off the second square and land into the third square followed by the other foot landing into the same square.
7. Repeat the pattern until you reach the end of the ladder and back to the bottom with your right foot being the lead foot.

 

 

Final Notes!

Despite the ultimate goal of improving the player’s overall quickness, players must not rush into performing the drills. The early stages of learning and getting the hang of ladder drills are crucial and have to be supervised carefully.

Ladder drills are learned in a slow and controlled manner in order to optimize the proper movement mechanics. Rushing into it might only results to poor motor patterns and this becomes increasingly difficult to mend in the long run.

So when training on speed ladders, always remember quality over quantity. Do not get into a hurry. Just relax your body, work on accuracy, maintain a normal speed and later on you will find yourself progressing as you acquire the skill.

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