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Kiwi Table Tennis Manual (introducing TT to beginners)

​​​​​​​Table Tennis Nutrition Guide


There are many fun ways to play Table Tennis including: Team Contest - Changing PlayersA player from each team start the match. After five points you don’t just change serves – you also change players. The next two players play the next five points, and so on to 21.Play best of three, best of five, or best of seven, or best of anything. It doesn’t matter how many players there are in a team. It works whether you’ve got two, or ten, or any number.Variation options:

  • Change serves every point if you want to ensure each player has an even balance of serves and receives.
  • Re-draw the order of play after every player has had one turn at the table if you want to avoid the same two players playing against each other every time they play.Have each pair of players play more than five points (say 10, 20), and play each game to higher total (eg 51, 101).
  • This variant of the traditional team event has obvious advantages. It would make a more genuine team contest, and the rest of the team would always be on hand for support, instead of wandering away and having to be called back when they’re on.

It might even catch on at a more serious level. They’ve always done it in lawn and indoor bowls, Athletics, swimming and relay races.Club Night Matches

Up and Down the Table - A way of organising games on club nights is:

  • Using a Blackboard (or a Whiteboard), draw columns allowing one for each table. (Show table number at top).
  • Start the session by writing each players name in a column to play someone else, ensuring that levels of play are spread across the tables.
  • As more players arrive, simply add to a column with the least players, continuing to mix the standard of players.
  • Play matches as desired - best of 3, one to 21 up, 31 up etc.
  • The winners move up a table and the losers go down a table.
  • Winners on first table remain there and losers on last table remain there.
  • As the evening progresses the players gradually sort themselves into their level of play.
  • This method ensures lower graded players play against better players, but the later also reach their own levels as the evening progresses.

Relay RacesTeams start on one side of the hall.

  • Select a stroke, eg backhand push.
  • At the signal "go" one member of each team runs to the table; drops the ball on the table and with the selected stroke plays the ball over the net and catches it after it has bounced; runs to the far wall; touches it; repeats the same stroke on the way back to the team.
  • The second player then does the same until one team uses up all its players.If a player misses the shot or fails to catch the ball he/she plays the shot again.

Organising this with large numbers of juniors, you will need ear protection.

Tennis Doubles

As ordinary doubles but instead of alternating the striking of the ball, players may only play the ball that lands on their side of the centre line. Balls landing right on the line can be hit by either player but prior agreement on who should take them will minimise collisions, heated argument and opposition mirth.

Crazy Bats


  • Can be any size but 12 ½ cm from top of bat to end of handle is suggested. The covered part of the blade should be 5 ½ cm long and the handle 7 cm.
  • Collect old bats, remove the rubber and cut down to the above size. Collect old sponge rubbers that players discard and recover your creation.
  • Easier to play with than you’d think.


  • Cut a hole of approx 5 ½ cm in diameter in the centre of a cheap pimple-covered bat.
  • Great for a laugh. Variant: score a bonus point if you can make the ball pass cleanly through the hole in your bat.


How to Make Your Own table

For the Do-It-Yourself person, the school woodwork teacher, or the plain adventurous, here’s a recipe for making your own table. The instructions, contributed by Merv Allardyce, relate to a Kiwi Table - the specially modified version for children aged 9 – 13. By adjusting the dimensions to 2740 mm x 1525 mm, 760 mm above the floor, the same procedure can be followed to make a full-size table.


1 sheet MDF (Customwood) 2400mm x 1200mm x 18mm. Recommend that it be cut in two pieces for ease of handling and to accommodate alternative net.


Blue. The colour is within the British Standards colour range 5252 and the actual colour code is 20 E 56. Recommend that an acrylic exterior matt paint be used with a roller.


Prime/undercoat both sides and edges of the table to prevent warping. Apply 2 coats of blue on top and edges with roller. When dry, mask sides and ends of table top with masking tape and newspaper 20mm from the edge. Can be painted or, better still, lightly sprayed with white matt paint (an aerosol can is ideal). Remove masking tape and when dry mask out centre line 3mm wide down centre of table. Lightly spray with white paint.Provided the table can be placed on something to set it at about hip-height for the players, it is now ready for use with a shortened net. In schools, it could be placed on desks and when not in use the reverse side of each half used as a notice board. But those wishing to make a complete unit with trestles, supporting beams between the trestles and table (runners), and an alternative net, read on…


These should be adjustable to enable height of table to be varied from about 610mm to standard height of 760mm. Two trestles are required per table and they can be cut out of builders ply or 75mm x 25mm timber. The diagram sets out the measurements of one half of a trestle. It is recommended that they be glued as well as screwed. Two halves are hinged (use 3 or 4 inch butt hinges) at each end of the tops of the trestles. Drill a hole in each of the lower cross members 150mm from each end. A length of rope is threaded through opposite holes and by lengthening or shortening the rope the table height can be adjusted. The table sits on two wooden 'runners' (2000mm x 75mm x 50mm), or something similar of other material, which are first placed on top of the trestles.NetA standard net can be shortened or it may be replaced by a 'net' made from a piece of hardboard or similar material (stiff plastic is ideal), 1400mm x 168mm. A baton 25mm x 25mm is screwed on either side so that a lip of 18mm is below the batons. This lip is placed between the two halves of the table. Paint the net a bright colour such as yellow to complete an attractive looking unit._


Returning Spin Services

We stand trembling while our opponent winds up, throws the ball three metres into the air, ties his/her body into knots, twists the bat in every conceivable direction, utters a fearful grunt, and, biceps bulging, serves with such vicious spin that the ball is almost humming as it wobbles towards us. Our doubles partner pulls up a chair while we prod tentatively forward, wondering whether this time the ball will bury itself in the net, land on the next table, or fly over our smirking opponent’s head and disappear over the horizon.

For us, there are only two kinds of serve: the ones we can get back, and the ones we can’t.

How to return difficult spin serves in one easy lesson

There is one prerequisite to the lesson. The chances of your mastering the art of returning spin serves are minimal if you have not learned to use spin in your own shots. And you’ll find things easier still if you have experimented with some spin serves of your own.

That much understood, you’ve only got two things to learn: how to read the spin: and how to compensate for it.

Reading the spin

The ball does not spin by itself. It’s not spinning when it’s thrown up, and the direction in which it’s spinning can’t change after the ball leaves the bat. So to establish the direction of the spin, simply watch the bat as it makes contact with the ball. The direction in which the bat is moving at that moment is the direction in which the ball will be spinning.Don’t be fooled by the bat being waved in other directions before and after contact - you’re concerned only with the moment when the bat strikes the ball. And you have the opportunity to verify your judgement by watching the way the ball bounces when it hits the table.\

Establishing the speed at which the ball is spinning is somewhat more complex. Factors include:

  • How high the ball is thrown (a high ball will be travelling faster when it finishes dropping so a faster spin will be imparted by the bat stroke).
  • Bat speed across the ball, readable not only by physically watching it but also by observing the follow-through.
  • The point of contact on the bat (the ball which hits the bat near the edge closest to the table will receive more backspin because it has more bat-face to roll over; and the ball that hits the bat near the edge furthest from the handle will spin faster if a pivotal wrist action is used, because that end of the bat moves faster than any other part).
  • How firmly the bat actually makes contact with the ball (among the most difficult to read, but verifiable by the bounce on the table).
  • The length of the serve (a ball landing deep on your half of the table is likely to be spinning faster than one which falls shorter, except in the case of backspin).
  • Having sorted out what’s coming towards you, all that remains is to safely return the serve.

Compensating for the spin

You do this by simply holding your bat at the "wrong" angle. A conscious effort and a good measure of confidence are required because your internal instinct will be screaming at you to hold your bat in its normal position. As a rule of thumb, angle your bat in the direction from which the server’s bat started its movement across the ball. If your opponent’s bat swings from left to right (as seen from your end of the table)’ angle the face of your bat to the left. If the bat begins above the ball and finishes below it, angle your bat in an upward direction. How far to angle it, and how firmly to stroke the ball depend on the speed you have assessed the ball to be spinning at. But to control any spinning serve, the ball must be stroked. Prodding or blocking belong in the hit and miss department.

Some people work on the premise that even if you’re not sure exactly what spin is on the ball, you can return it by giving a firm push behind and under the ball. Although this can be useful as a last resort, it is less than satisfactory in that you can easily push the ball too high; and you are also taking most of the spin out of the ball. By accurately reading the spin and compensating for it, you are not only thumbing your nose at your opponent’s brilliant serve by decisively returning it but you have also kept the original spin on the ball. Now your opponent has to cope with it.

Beware the Hollywood Actor

Just because someone tosses the ball up four metres; winds their leg around their neck; jumps in the air and emits a contorted grunt on impact with the ball, don’t automatically assume that the ball is spinning. If the bat-face doesn’t move across the ball, you can expect a flat serve, whatever the accompanying antics. But flat serves, like any other, still have to be handled correctly. There is no compensatory angle to worry about, but the ball must be stroked more firmly than usual if you don’t want to see it float harmlessly off the end of the table.


Just as we began with two categories of serve, we conclude with two ways of coping with the heavily spun serve.

One, carefully assemble all the information required to play a shot which correctly compensates for the spin. This includes observing the height of the throw; the length and direction of the serving stroke; the point of contact on the bat; the degree of touch; whether the whole forearm or just the wrist is used and the depth of the ball at your end of the table. Don’t be distracted by "shamming" or multiple bat movements, and don’t forget to also take into account the type of rubber, and the condition of it, on both your opponent’s bat and your own (not gone into here, as that’s a whole story in itself). You are now ready to return the serve. or,

Two, if you find that you are unable to establish, collate and apply all the foregoing data in the time available (approx 1/4 second), then you may have to do what everyone else who has learned to return difficult spin serves had to do to begin with: practise, and keep practising - until the art of reading spin becomes instinctive.

The point is, other people have learned to cope with difficult serves, so why not you? It may take weeks or months of practice but if it’s going to save eight or nine points in a game, it’s surely worth the trouble.

From there it’s only a matter of time before you have devised a range of horrific serves of your own and we’ll be the ones standing trembling at the other end.

Source: John Kiley_______________________________________