Table tennis is a fast-paced sport, but we can often see professional table tennis players like to touch the table between the points frequently during international matches. This seemingly small gesture is actually incredibly important to a professional player. In this blog, we are going to talk about it.
Can ping pong players touch the table during the match?
According to ITTF, players can only touch the table with their non-racquet hand once the point is won or lost. That’s to say, if players are in a rally of one point, it would be a foul move to touch the table. However, once this point is won or lost, players are allowed to rest their hands or racquets down on the table without being penalized.
Why do ping pong players touch the table during the game?
Basically, players touch the table during the game to wipe off the sweat. But there are also some other reasons like taking a rest and making some adjustments. It can both take a breath from players themselves and psych up their opponent.
In this blog, we shall introduce you to the details of these tactics and strategies.
Reason 1: wiping the sweat
During play, table tennis players are likely to produce plenty of sweat due to the physical exertion required. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for players to touch the table every now and then so they can quickly wipe away the sweat from their hands.
Even if a player’s hands are slightly moist from sweat due to intense physical activity, this too can affect the player’s game as the paddle might slip out of their grasp. Touching and rubbing the table near the net helps them avoid these distractions and stay in control of the game.
Personally, I prefer to touch the net zone during points because normally it’s much colder at that zone, and can help me wipe the sweat off my hands!
In this way, they can maintain full concentration on the game while avoiding other problems caused by moisture.
Reason 2: Making up the strategies
Touching the table is an integral part of coming up with tactics and strategies in table tennis. In fact, most of the players take the advantage of this breath and focus on coming up with new tactics.
During this period of intense concentration, they might brainstorm different reactions depending on the trajectories of their opponent’s shots and ways they can adapt their technique to maximize their chance of success.
When a player touches the table in between points, they are usually thinking of what they want to do differently on the next point. This can involve analyzing their opponent’s style of play, looking for weaknesses or opportunities to score, visualizing how they want to rally, or otherwise formulating a plan that will get them closer to winning the match.
Reason 3: Waste time and Interfere with competitors
To slow down the pace of the match, some players have resorted to an interesting tactic–tapping the surface of their table. It’s kind of similar to the tactic in some football matches. We can see sometimes when a team is leading, they may slow down the pace and try to waste the time.
By appearing composed, they can make the other player feel like they’re in control of the game – which can give them an edge during match play. This kind of power dynamic can create feelings of uncertainty in the opposing player as well as elicit certain emotions such as anger, frustration, or even fear.
Among world-known ping pong players, Liu Guoliang and Ma Lin are famous for touching the table to waste the time. Especially Ma Lin, not only touches the table, but also touches his clothes, his pants, or his racket in order to control the match and interfere with competitors.
Reason 4: Eliminate tension
Touching the table can calm ping-pong players down as they face a tough opponent. I can still recall that when I first played a formal match when I was 8 years old, I was super nervous that even couldn’t hold the racket. I had no other way but to touch the table to make me calm down. Obviously, I lose the match but I found that it was a great way to help me erase my nervousness.
Players may use it as a method of boosting their own confidence before each point, giving themselves the belief that they are able to play successfully regardless of who their opponent is. This helps to keep fear at bay and allows them to focus on the task at hand—winning the game.
Reason 5: Already a habit
Whether it’s a matter of routine or praying for a stroke of good luck, many players touch the table before their match starts. This helps them to settle into the right mindset for playing and gives them a feeling of familiarity and comfort before they even pick up their paddle.
Actually, every ping pong player has his or her own habit during the match, like in other sports. The interesting thing is that, during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, touching the table was prohibited because of Covid. Loads of players are not used to it and they have to change it into other forms.
What impressed me was that Xu Xin once was about to touch the table but he suddenly realized that it was forbidden. In order not to be punished, he quickly picked up the ball and blew the ping pong ball. So it can be noticed how this habit is important to our table tennis players.
Why do table tennis players like to touch the table of the net zone?
Players wipe their hands near the net because that area of the table isn’t used as often during matches. Wetting the table makes it easier to accidentally affect shots, spins, or bounces since it’s not typically where they are performed. So that’s why sometimes when our sweat falls down on the table, we have to wipe it.
Personally speaking, I sometimes wipe my hands close to the net, but sometimes I also touch other areas. But I will make sure that later it is dry and does not affect my game.
Table tennis is one of the most exciting and fast-paced games out there. It requires lightning-fast reflexes, strategic planning, and split-second decision-making. To have a better performance, it’s important that players take a few seconds between points to reset their stance or strategy and gather themselves before launching back into the match.
This is why table tennis players touch the table between points – to pause their game a little bit for both sides to prepare for what comes next. Taking a moment between points gives each player time to catch their breath, assess their opponent’s recent moves, consider how they or want to respond, and adjust their plan accordingly.
While it may seem like a tiny detail in the grand scheme of things, touching the table between points has serious implications on how well each competitor fares in the game.