Dynamic balance is a crucial component of table tennis mastery. In fact, many experienced table tennis coaches believe developing a player's balance can be the key to future success!
Balance is the foundation of all movements and, in particular, coordination. Balance allows the creation of force and determines the efficiency of movement. It's not to be underestimated!
There are two types of balance...
- Static balance: This is probably the first thing to pop into your mind when you think of "balance". An example of static balance would be your ability to stand on one leg.
- Dynamic balance: This is the balance we need for table tennis. Dynamic balance is the ability to keep the body in equilibrium whilst making movements.
To have good balance in table tennis; the knees MUST be bent, the feet MUST be in a position where they can be made wider and narrower, and the head MUST be slightly forward and central.
This all creates a natural balanced triangle.
The one simple secret to dynamic balance
The head is the area that is most commonly wrong.
A lot of players throw their heads about and lean it outside of their body, thus breaking the triangle of balance. Here's an example...
If your partner blocks to one position most players can perform a consistently strong shot. However, once the block is moved around, lesser players can’t get in position and are unable to find their balance. They end up playing much weaker and less consistent shots.
A regular mistake you often see on the tournament circuit occurs when a player is blocked very wide to their forehand. The player does not get their playing leg/foot far enough across, their head comes down and outside of their natural triangle, and their weight ends up purely on their playing leg.
This is not the makings of a strong shot!
As they play their forehand loop they are unable to transfer their weight onto their non-playing leg and the player spins outward and is left stranded, only able to perform a backhand from the forehand side.
It was the weight of their head that caused them to lose their balance. Or, at least, the head is a helpful and easy way to check if you are balanced. Remember the triangle!
Chinese body balance
Here's a great video by Coach Wang Wen Jie explaining the Chinese training philosophy when it comes to body balance.
You can clearly see that he has made a triangle using his head and feet. His head stays central throughout the video - except for when he illustrates what not to do!
So, check your table tennis balance and work on getting it correct from an early stage. Try and keep your feet a sensible width apart, your knees well bent, your head slightly forward and, most importantly, central of the body! Don't forget the triangle.
Once you've done all of that, just remember to keep as relaxed as possible and you'll be well on your way to improving your dynamic balance and playing much better table tennis.
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by Steve Brunskill