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How Important is a Table Tennis Rally?

Have you ever asked yourself, how important is a table tennis rally?
 all love having a long table tennis rally and of course, winning the big rallies is like an injection of adrenaline.

Table Tennis Rallies

An average table tennis rally is between 4-5 strokes and each stroke is played from 0.2 to 0.5 of a second, in simple terms approximately 2 strokes per second.
If you take these stats into account you must ask yourself, how important is it train long rallies in the practice hall? 1 in ten points you will have a long-lasting rally (between 8-15 strokes). 

Ping Pong Championships at Ally Pally
Ping Pong Championships at Ally Pally
How should we train?

I think when building fundamentals the focus should be on building solid foundations which evolve around regular and consistent exercises. Once your stroke play has solid foundations then the key focus should be on the first 4-6 balls. Naturally, you should be giving extra attention to the serve and return then third fourth and fifth ball. Developing these key shots will enable you to deliver high-quality shots from the offset and sway most games in your favour.

Interesting table tennis stats

If you take an average Professional Table Tennis Match (best of seven) you will notice that the match lasts around 50min. In that time the actual rally play is on average 4min and 10sec. This means less than 10% of the match is actual gameplay. Every rally starts slow and speeds up (should we implement off the table training with slow to fast training sessions?) 

The first ball:

People say the most important shot in table tennis is your serve, I say I agree but I also disagree. The first shot is the most important whether it be your server or return. These two shots start a rally and one without the other won’t complete a winning game. Therefore I would practice both with similar importance, the only difference is the service can be developed solely and you are in full control of the spin, speed and placement. 

Can I be a world class player without big rally play?

If you want to be a world class player, I believe it can be achieved without having wonderful rally skills but there will be times when you’re required to rally beyond 6 balls. If you fail to develop a good rally base you will be exposed eventually. If you watch Ma Lin, he was a great example of serve and return, he was capable of playing long and good rallies but would much rather avoid long rallies due to a weaker backhand wing.

Key learning:

Develop the fundamentals to enable long rallies but ultimately develop your serve and return then 3rd and 5th. After that, you can focus on developing your rally play. if you don’t have those fundamentals you won’t reach the rally plays even though you may be good at them.

Written by Eli Baraty 

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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