Off-the-Table Table Tennis

What do you do when you’re not playing table tennis?

That’s one of the issues that I faced since I started playing back in Spain and Mexico.

I don’t have a table at home (I never had) and my club only opens on weekends. Therefore, I have very limited table time during my week.

Also, the past two weeks I was out of town, treating my cat’s cancer at UC Davis Veterinary Hospital. I couldn’t attend last weekend’s training and league.

Not Playing for 2 Weeks

Apart from missing it so much, I was worried that not playing for 2 weeks was going to affect my level and my consistency. I think it does. For this sport, and most likely any, if you miss several days of your training, it takes you a while to recover when you’re back.

My solution was to try some off-the-table exercises. I surfed the web to gather information, and I ended up doing the following.

Off-The-Table Table Tennis Training

Skipping Rope

I got a skipping rope and I started jumping. I heard that it’s a good way of improving your footwork. I always kind of liked it – I think it’s a good aerobic exercise. It’s good for endurance.

It was tiring indeed! My calves were so sore the days after. But I was happy I at least did that two or three times during the past 2 weeks.

They have fancy jumping ropes nowadays!


Leg power is fundamental in table tennis. Skipping develops endurance, I think, and squats develop power and explosiveness. Both qualities are extremely important in TT, and I personally suffer more from lack of the second. I can go on for a long time, but I can’t really be explosive for a long time (yet!). So I did some of these too, and man, it makes your leg muscles burn!


Basically, it’s a fancy name for “practicing your strokes without a table”. Some people recommended it in different blogs.

At first, I thought I would look silly, but it was actually great! I got to work on the technique I’m training with my coach.


I focused on doing Falkenberg, for physical training. I’m still slow, as you can see.

Forehand and Backhand Looping

My technique for forehand looping is not too bad, but for the backhand, I’m definitely not confident. I watch videos and tried to practice without a table. I use three balls to do the looping over and over. I need to get better “grabbing time” of the ball, and that’s what I was trying to practice.

The Mental Side

When I’m not playing table tennis, I’m thinking of table tennis a lot.

I watch a lot of games and training videos on Youtube. I think over and over what my coach said. I “prepare” mentally for my next game. I think of the day when I finally am able to loop and spin great balls in matches.

All this sounds romantic, but I’m not sure it’s any good.

It doesn’t really improve your game. In fact, I’ve noticed that it might make me feel more tense, with higher and unrealistic expectations.

When I actually grabbed my racket and went down the hotel room to practice, just by myself, I had a more accurate feeling of what my table tennis game is. And I could start improving from that. If it’s just in my mind, it’s like pie-in-the-sky.

In addition, it’s very important to pay attention to what you’re doing at any given moment. If I’m not playing table tennis, watching table tennis, or reading about table tennis, I try not to think too much of table tennis. Because I’d probably be doing it just to avoid whatever current situation I’m in.


Table time beats any kind of other training in table tennis (it’s in the name, dude). So, I hope I can find ways to increase that time.

But meanwhile, these 2 things seem to work:

  • physycal exercises aimed toward the specific needs of the game
  • shadowing the strokes that I’m learning at the moment (technical skills)

Those two are important, because, as Tom Lodziak says, “Gone are the days when you can be a little soft around the middle and still be a top 10 player“. Time to get to train!


  1. Ping Pal Hal
    August 18, 2017

    I’m in a similar situation. I’m still in the general beginner stages of table tennis training, and while I do have a table at home I’m also not able to play very much due to my schedule for work/commute/family. I did however buy an extremely cheap table for around $70 and I’m planning on buying a decent robot so even getting downstairs in the garage to hit 50 balls or so makes me feel “connected” to my training.

    I also have some home gym equipment where I’ve been able to keep doing body weight training and weight training. I’ve noticed when I really play table tennis with some vigor, my legs are destroyed for a few days, so keeping your legs strong and agile is a must.

    I just started my own blog btw because I liked what you were doing with yours!

    1. Jose Montoro
      August 18, 2017

      Hi Jim! Thanks for commenting. If I had a table, personally, I’d spend a loooot of time on serves – you do them every point, right? So it’s worth investing in them. Weight lifting works well too, I think.
      Are you getting professional training as well? Best lucks!

  2. Marcus
    September 3, 2017

    my personal view : everyone starts out with the easy fun part of playing tabletennis -hitting the ball .If you have some Hand eye coordination this is going to get you quickly into some reasonable cpability -you think.
    The reality is: it will carry you away from the real task :the real important Thing is timing your whole Body Motion in relation to the incoming ball .This only will even open the possibility to execute a full stroke including a full recovery.

    So doing the shadow Training is great , but there is the missing element of when to Trigger your Motion sequence.In real Play if your triggering is not correct balls will rush towards you and your hard learned footwork ,hip Rotation and arm movement are waaay too slow to hit the ball-bad News.

    So learning touch and precision with the ball WHEN hitting it is actually counterproductive as it is just enhancing your ability to improvise your scoring when you actually do everything wrong!

    So my Thesis here is – don´t Play if you want to improve technically ,but get proper Coaching to learn proper strokes and proper Timing .Here the real good coaches will separte from the amateurs .Certainly this Approach will kill 99% of Kids ambitions when starting this Sport -as they will simply not have the stamina to go through this .so you Need to compromise .

    I would practise ball control at all costs to improve touch : Take your bat and do practise ball control till perfect .Ball moving arond the bat without losing contact even if you swap from black to red rubber or catching the ball with the bat after throwing the ball straight up should really really teach you how to control incoming Speed and touch .Then after mastering this you would Need to learn the different effects of incoming spin .Where is the Point to try to learn this in an actual match Situation ? you are occupied with winning not applying your Expertise -but if you don´t have any Expertise -you just apply instinct .rightly so but as Long as you have no skilll-useless,end of Story +counterproductive as you carve in bad Habits.
    So off the table do everything to master Basics -learning spin ,learning Basic Motion Patterns and learning Timing (being prepared to apply your skill as an instinct not a conscious decision!)

    practising serves is also easily combined with practising footwork -no Point serve practise without ending the serve moving into proper ready Position ! (carve in correct Patterns while practising!) Amazingly nobody seems to practise serves like that !you give away so much opportunity here..

    Weight Lifting and Hiit Training should be great – everything aimed at Body control like armstand and Body Stabilisation is great .But you Need to Focus on explosiveness in your strength Training .Static Strength Training will make you slow .So high intensity low Repetition weight Lifting is key and Needs pro advice from someone who really Looks at a correctly done powerlift or deadlift .I really like sequenced Training against elastic ropes so you canb actually get a Feeling for your hip Torsion for example.

    1. Jose Montoro
      September 3, 2017

      Thanks for your extensive response, Marc! I do have a coach already, we train once a week and I play matches another day in the week. I’d love to have more table time, but unfortunately, there’s no infrastructure available for me right now. That’s why I want to add some of the table exercises! I’d like to try the training against elastic ropes, it sounds powerful for TT!

  3. Marcus
    September 3, 2017

    haha,I certainly have a Reputation for extensive answers -sorry for being a Little bit too elaborate.Forgot to mention the mental side of achieving success in anything.Instead of Setting firm Goals or Targets I feel the best Approach is to live the dream and do something from the dream EVERYDAY .Be it 5 minutes of watching a Video or 6minutes of rope jumping it makes sense to write down every Minute you spent too get better in the Sport you love so much.Focusing too much on a certain result will only lead into big holes after achieving the set Goal and it will put unnecessary non positive pressure on you during the path towards achieving the Goal when you actually should enjoy your journey getting better and better !I certainly apply this Approach for my daughter and she is thriving with this Approach !

  4. Tim Thomas
    October 20, 2017

    I’ve been in a similar situation but I don’t even have a coach. You can practice serves without a full size table either by doing floor serves, or setting up a small table and trying to hit targets. It might not be optimal but it is helpful, especially when trying something new. Floor serves are great because it gives you better feedback on the spin you are producing. Targets give you accuracy. You should be looking for significant ball movement from spin at about 12 feet from where serve on a hard floor. Try to spin the ball around corners or make it come back to you. Give yourself challenges to make it interesting, like how many you can do in a row.

    Physical training is great. As far as shadow training, make sure you have the right stroke so you are not ingraining something wrong. From the video, it looks like you are tense and using your arm to swing more than from your legs and hip. It looks like you have good physical ability but racket head speed will be limited if you use your arm too much, or have the incorrect timing. Sorry for the long post, I am working on these issues myself and am trying to get better in the same ways.

    1. Jose Montoro
      October 21, 2017

      That’s cool! No worries, I like long posts 🙂 I still have some technical issues, like you said hitting too much with the arm, not enough the hips and legs. And being tense! That I don’t know if someday will even go away…


Comment if you can relate!

Scroll to top
%d bloggers like this: