Greg Letts is a world-ranked table tennis player and an Australian Level 1 table tennis coach. Firstly, a very brief introduction to the mathematics that is used to describe Table Tennis. Other alternatives are the chop smash or a stop ball taken very early. In table tennis, shot selection is determined by one factor, and that is the height of the ball. But, speed is not everything in Table Tennis. A loop against a sidespin ball will result in a topspin return with a sidespin kick. The three most common ways to hit a tennis ball are flat (no spin), with topspin, or sliced (hit with underspin/backspin). Always bear in mind however the old cliché - ‘What one gains in spin one loses in speed and vice versa’. The trajectory itself is determined by gravity, the … Although in principle the same natural laws should apply during ball/table contact and in ball/racket contact, here the two surfaces are dramatically different, varying from smooth and shiny to sticky with immense friction. Playing 3 CQ. The blade also has its part to play and even under the rubber and sponge it can deform against a hard hit. and a contact time of a thousandth of a second, with a ball weighing 2.7 grams, the impact can be very considerable. This should therefore mean that the overall velocity of the ball is lower. There will be a big difference between the topspin and backspin strokes and even the best of attackers will make mistakes. The initial velocity is something you have no control over, as it is how hard the opposition hits the ball at you. Harder blades and sponges give more speed at the expense of control while softer blades and sponges provide more spin and control as there is a longer contact time on the blade (without gluing you lose between 10 - 20% of the speed and spin). Game Time and Timing Regulations 1. When players talk about a ‘hall’ being slow or fast this is a subjective experience. It is also a priority in the ‘modern’ game, where we have limited time that footwork is economical, one big step is preferable to many small ones. Also the earlier chop will retain more spin as it is in the air for a lesser time between strokes. In tennis, squash and badminton you must serve diagonally but in table tennis singles you can serve wherever you like. Some common places are: Technically hitting the ball harder (with a higher velocity) also increases the Torque, as this increase in velocity results in a direct increase in the acceleration of the ball. A. One can easily see that with a contact speed of up to 31.1 m/second (112 kph. The reason it doesn't continue forever is due to air resistance, in the form of friction, and the fact that the collision of the ball and the ground isn't perfectly elastic (some of the ball's kinetic energy is converted to heat, when it impacts with the ground, and there is also some friction between the floor and the ball). Why Is the 38mm Ball Faster Than the 40mm Ball? How to Choose the Best Tennis Racquet for Control and Power, How to Get More Spin on Your Table Tennis Serves, The Backhand Backspin/Sidespin Serve in Table Tennis, Learn the Definition of Ping-Pong Game Terms, A Brief History of Table Tennis (Ping-Pong), Poly Balls: Table Tennis Balls Are Changing, Simple Drills for Table Tennis / Ping-Pong, Table Tennis - How to Play With Short Pimples. We always acknowledge your contributions! Important Table Tennis Rules for Ping-Pong Beginners, Maximizing the spin on the ball. I analyzed the strokes of top players for many years, I have read a lot about tips from top-players but most importantly, over the years I tried many of these things myself. Often in the boy’s game even from an early age it is a good idea to work with topspin as this gives high speed and also a high level of safety. In order to gain more power in your shots, you have to do more work or take less time in your shots. The friction between the ball and the table will reach a maximum of around 20% of the impact force between the ball and the table - then skidding occurs. In doubles it is wrong to always try to return to a normal ready position just as it is not profitable if both partners end up wide out on one corner or the other. This means that the faster the ball is spinning the higher the, Unwinding the body when playing a powerful shot such as a. A change to more symmetrical play requires that the BH topspin be of the same quality as the FH. Nothing that happens on a table tennis table is inexplicable as long as you are aware of the basic laws of physics. This is because the mass and energy terms are both directly proportional to the Energy. As you begin to improve as a table tennis player and master the fundamentals, you’ll almost certainly need to think about increasing your power. 2. We must also bear in mind that even at relatively slow speeds, say an average of 40 kph, the ball will cover the length of the table in about 0.25 of a second which is the approximate limit of human reaction time for the average player. For instance a brushing noise of the ball on the bat tells you that spin has been put on the ball, hitting a loop will give this effect. The training video breaks down the stroke mechanics of the most popular skills used in Tournament Play. It’s elementary for example to understand that quick play requires short strokes so that you can recover for the next ball (not so short however that you fail to play ‘through’ the ball). This is quite a big time difference at top level. Use small movements over the table and the large action further back where you require more power and precision of placement. The speed for a long fast serve will be very similar to the speeds when flicking - between 8.5 m/second (30.6 k/hour) straight, to up to 10.0 m/second (36.0 k/hour) on the diagonal. Questions relating to materials and the differing spins and effects can be rather more complicated as the manufacturing companies have not tried to create standardised tests to measure exactly what their products can do. Far more significant variations occur in air pressure when we talk about height above sea level for example. A stroke can be executed with a large radius (a straight arm with forward movement) or with a small movement (flick of the wrist). This has a major impact on both the air resistance and the effect of the spin on the ball in flight. In the case of strong topspin the ball will acquire forward energy and this rotational momentum will be converted into extra speed (Diagram G). If you want to conduct an experiment (you can make quite a bit of money out of this 'trick'), try dropping a golf ball and a table tennis ball from the same height and see which hits the ground first. The short serve will therefore always have a measurable spin which can be reckoned by the number of revolutions per second, while the long serve can have stronger rotation due to the increased power input. If you assume that two top players take the ball about 20 - 25cms off the end of the table then in a rally the ball would reach average speeds of around 12 — 14 m/second (43.2 - 50.4 kms per hour, straight and diagonal respectively). From table tennis lesson plans worksheets to table tennis mechanics videos, quickly find teacher-reviewed educational resources. Backspin with its straighter trajectory often tends to come through nearer to the end of the table. When looping against a topspin ball the spin must be reversed which requires strong friction and a very closed racket. - Topspin, backspin or counter-hitting with well judged (and controlled) speed. The time in a shot refers to the time the ball is in contact with the racket which is fixed at approximately 0.003 seconds. The ease and relative affordability of table tennis has made it one of the most popular sports in the world today in participation. Energy is described in two forms (ignoring a smattering of other forms, which, without getting extremely technical in chemistry and nuclear physics, are beyond the scope of this article). In Table Tennis, the average total time to react to a shot is usually around 0.25 of a second. The ball therefore comes through with maximum retained spin. In the case of ball/table and ball/passive racket the rotational energy can predominate, dramatically slowing the speed value. The no spin smash is the game’s hardest hit (around 31.1 m/second (measured speed off the racket) or 112 k/hour) and gives the opponent the least possible time to make the return. Diag. As we can see from (J) there is a big difference looping close to the table and executing a similar stroke three metres back. Among the world’s elite (especially the Asian players) the FH is still the dominant stroke and many men players will still move more in order to bring this wing into play. With a speed of 8.5 m/second (30.6 k/hour, 19.125 mph.) Is it possible to play the ball around the net so that it does not bounce off? The flick can often be angled harder and more easily than the counter hit as it is taken closer to the net and with less speed on the incoming ball. BUT, the 38mm ball is faster than the 40mm ball because the increase in the radius results in an increase in the wind resistance, thus slowing down the 40mm ball. An interesting alternative is to use topspin from an early timing position - even though this is a slower stroke which gives the opponent time it results in a more curved shot and a ball which drops quickly after the bounce. As F = ma, an increase in a leads to a direct increase in F, which in turn leads to a direct increase in Torque. In the case of any stroke where an arc is used we can have a positive or negative arc (Diagram I). Take the second formula as an example, W = Fs This is expressed as W = F multiplied by s or W = F x s. Where:P = Power (The amount of oomph that is applied)W = Work (The amount of energy that is consumed)t = Time (Length of time the Power is applied for)F = Force (Basically the amount of grunt the shot has. Usually the balls are manufactured in either white or yellow color. Symmetrical play is clearly superior from the point of view of economy of movement, the only downside being that the BH topspin is generally less powerful than the FH. In Table Tennis, the average total time to react to a shot is usually around 0.25 of a second. Many players think that it’s safer and more natural to have a negative arc with the BH topspin and especially where the feet are more parallel with the end of the table. Certainly in the future it is becoming obvious that in the light of the speed of the modern game, play will become more and more ‘symmetrical’ and that this will be the way forward. My thanks to guest author Jonathan Roberts, who has kindly taken the time to write about the physics of table tennis, saving me the need to strain my brain trying to figure this stuff out! Site users will note that we now have short stories for sale. As well as providing something different the purpose is to help make the site self-sufficient, so please feel free to sample these as and when. The lifting movement (attacking a ball lower than net height) sets the limit and this can only be overcome by the creation of more topspin. In the case of a passive stroke where the racket scarcely moves then the effect of the spin against the surface will be extreme. It will be interesting to see if this tactic, which has been common amongst the women for many years, will become the norm in the men’s game). And that is a basic introduction to the physics of table tennis. N = Normal power which consists of the bounce and the speed of the ball and T = Tangential power which depends on the spin and the frictional qualities of the racket. Irrespective of the ball’s movement in the air, the friction and bounce depend on the material qualities of the racket and of the table. In the case of the ball’s contact with the racket we are concerned with two types of power. If two players are each three metres back the total distance between ball contacts is around 9 metres and the ball will slow through the air — this gives over half a second to react which in the case of two fit, skilful players will mean that it will be hard to outmanoeuvre the opponent and win the point. The first player to get to 11 points in a game is the winner. Yes, that includes off the sides of the table, if you can get enough sidespin. The serve can vary a great deal but the service rules and natural laws impose certain limitations. 10. A smash has strong speed value while a loop has a great deal of both values. A proper warm up is necessary before starting play. This represents the ability of the object in question to use Energy. With lots of training and lots of practice, this can be reduced to 0.18 of a second. From a biological perspective, there are limits to how fast the body can react to a stimulus. You need to toss the ball up at least 6.3 inches and hit it as it falls back down to qualify as a legal serve. By 2025 there should […] (In the case of world records for counter-hitting (of so many shots per minute) an average speed of only around 33kph is achieved). Diagonal play would give the higher figure of about 10.0m/second (36.0 k/hour) dropping by 10% (32.4 k/hour or 9.0 m/sec) if the ‘safer’ diagonal stroke were attempted. Also flicks against backspin can use the spin already on the ball and will result in a low dipping shot - long, fast service returns over 8.5 m/second will slow due to air resistance and this again helps when using topspin. Theoretically, this should continue forever, as Energy cannot be created or destroyed (except in a nuclear reaction, which involves what is probably Science's most famous equation: E = mc2). Most players for a start will want to cover around 60 - 65% of the table with the FH side as they can reach further on this wing, and 35 - 40% with the BH. All you need is a table, a net, a ball and a racket to get started. When I was a kid I read a number of table tennis books and they all made out the loop to be something special and wonderous. Eventually a number of things crystallized out. Air resistance is always against the direction of travel and its effect is strongly influenced by the speed of the ball. What you gain in the one aspect you lose in the other. As a beginner consistency and accuracy are key. The result will be a bounce of less than 70% of the highest point in the trajectory, with a lesser spin but an increased speed (in the range of some 15 - 20%). However with the FH serve from the BH corner this can be placed to either corner - it is only necessary that you move to cover the return possibilities the instant after ball contact is made. Anyone who is remotely familiar with table tennis knows the name Butterfly. There will also of course be energy losses (a reduction in speed of about 10%). Incidentally, this work is generally regarded as the single most important work ever written in the history of science, and I regard Newton as the greatest scientist to have ever lived. In table tennis you dont need to play over the net, the ball just has to hit the other half of the table. Whether you're playing singles or doubles, the rules of table tennis are essentially the same. From the point of view of recovering to the most advantageous position relative to the angle of play, you must assess the total angle available for the opponent’s use and move into a position where your right shoulder is on the centre line (the bisecting line). Of course it is the player’s own skill and technical knowledge which will determine his or her choice of direction, speed and/or spin. Another way is to perform the experiment in a vacuum, though this is a harder to set up. Obviously the further you back away from the table the more time you will have to prepare and the more time to set yourself and hit the ball harder. With backspin gravity and the spin factors work against each other so that the ball will rise initially in a curve before dropping sharply when gravity predominates over the lessening spin (Diagram D). So it is actually added to your velocity, as subtracting a negative number actually means you add the two terms (another mathematical law). However no amount of training can increase the power of the flick beyond what the natural laws allow. These aspects mean that the opponent has to cover more of the table and more ground in a lesser time and has to react at a higher speed (the time frame can more than halve). Depending on the ball around the same quality as the resistance due to is. 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