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I'm a sport fan, playing ( at amateur level ) numerous sports. 10 years ago, I was quite good at playing table-tennis, participated in several amateur competitions. Even now I often play with my friends. On the other hand I rarely play tennis, although I enjoy watching.

Will knowing table-tennis help you when you play tennis? Can the movements, the balance, the rhythm, the pace and so on from table tennis help you when you're playing tennis? Is there such an obvious relation between the 2 sports?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

you and I have a lot in common - playing both table tennis and regular tennis. My answer to this question (from years of observing the effects of playing both sports) is both yes and no. Some things are the same (and help across both sports) and some are different and don't help that much.

The similarities:

Balance - both require good balance and using your non-hitting hand to help you maintain your balance when having to reach for a shot.

Hand-eye coordination - both require you to concentrate on, and keep your eye on, the ball.

Recognizing spin - your ability to recognize what kind of spin your opponent puts on the ball helps in both sports.

The differences:

Stamina - high level tennis requires greater physical strength and stamina. You'll have to be in better shape and more fit to reach higher levels of the game.

Stroke/Technique - This is most notable to me. In tennis, I need a much different kind of stroke (more loopy, different contact point, different follow through, etc.) in tennis than in table tennis. In table tennis I can get away with using more wrist to hit the ball and I need to apply much less effort into contacting the ball in table tennis. What I find if I am playing more tennis than table tennis is I hit a lot of shots past the end of the table in table tennis. Oppositely, I end up using too much wrist in my tennis strokes if I've been playing more table tennis.

Game Pace - the back and forth action in table tennis is (on average) a lot faster than in tennis, so you have to be ready to hit your next shot much sooner in table tennis than in tennis and you sometimes adjust your strategy in table tennis to allow more time to recover for your next shot than you would in tennis (though sometimes the same strategy applies in tennis as well if you've been pulled far off the court).

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Re "different contact point": I am pretty sure that I was told that I should use the center of the racket/paddle in both sports. Or did I misunderstand your point? – posdef Jul 17 '14 at 8:40
That's different. I'm referring to how in tennis, you rotate your trunk and make contact out in front with your arm(s) extended whereas in table tennis I find myself directly behind the ball much more often (defensively mostly) – jamauss Jul 17 '14 at 8:47
ok, thnx for the clarification – posdef Jul 17 '14 at 9:58

Off the top of my head, two actions in particular bring up my table tennis game AND my tennis game:

1) More foot work. If my feet aren't making plenty of noise on the floor/court, I'm not doing anything else as well.

2) Watching for racket/paddle -> ball contact. This a concentration exercise that gets you better contact and hits, but also helps take your mind off whatever else it is you shouldn't be thinking about while taking a swing.

To more directly answer your question, you will be more mentally fit for tennis than someone who has no table tennis experience. That will go a long way towards the pace of your physical progression.

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Table tennis is to "real" tennis as "miniature" golf (putt-putt) is to "real golf. So there are some commonalities (and some important differences).

One thing that is common to both versions of "tennis" is shot anticipation/selection. To the extent that both forms of tennis are a "mental" game, the thought processes in one can help in the other.

A second thing is balance/footwork. In this case, it is the foundation of either form of tennis.

On the other hand, tennis, like golf, is a much larger scale of its "miniature" version. While the latter is mostly skill, in the former, strength and stamina come into play. Basically, tennis is a "whole body" (rather than arms mainly) version of table tennis.

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In my experience, the skills of "real" tennis transfer well to table tennis while the reverse is not always the case.

While the strategy is similar, the player movement and differing mechanics of spin is an initial detriment wen crossing from one sport to the other. Tennis players playing table tennis often seem to overcome this initial skill gap when switching sports faster than table tennis players because the motions of tennis seem more exaggerated than the motions of table tennis because everything is "scaled up".

Short Answer: If you've played table tennis, you will be better at tennis initially than someone who hasn't played either sport but don't expect to be a tennis god.

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