If you’ve ever watched a ping pong competition, you’ll probably have notice this seemingly weird quirk they have of constantly touching the table.

I can see why it’d seem strange to some but there’s actually a lot of practical reasons to do so.

Here’s a rundown of why they do it and how you can start incorporating the same move to your game to improve your chances of succcess.

Balance and Stability

In table tennis, balance and stability are some of the most imporant skills for executing accurate shots and securing victories.

One way ping pong players maintain balance is by touching the table with their non-racquet hand once a point is won or lost, though not during a rally.

This simple action allows them to establish the correct distance from the table and maintain an advantageous position. By doing so, they can minimize the chances of slips and mishaps caused by perspiration and improve their overall performance.

Not only does touching the table aid in balance and stability, but it also helps players gauge their distance from the playing surface.

This is particularly imporant during serves, as it allows the server to position themselves at an arm’s length from the table, ensuring they have enough space to execute their serve with precision and that they’re in the correct position (i.e. where they usually practiced from).

Avoiding Slips

Another reason ping pong players touch the table is to manage sweat and maintain a good grip on their paddle.

During an intense match, sweaty hands can significantly affect a player’s ability to control the racket and execute accurate shots. By wiping their hands on the table surface, players can prevent slips and maintain a better grip on their racket.

Professional table tennis players are especially cautious about wiping, as sweat stains on the table can result in unpredictable ball bounces. According to table tennis rules, touching the table between points is permissible, allowing players to manage sweat and maintain a secure grasp on their paddle throughout the match.

Sweat Management

Managing sweat is essential for ping pong players, as it can directly impact their game. Touching the table helps prevent perspiration from causing unpredictable ball bounces, ensuring consistent contact and trajectory throughout the match. Some players even place their fingers on the table while playing to keep track of the score and maintain consistent contact with the table.

Wiping hands close to the net is particularly strategic, as it prevents interference with shots, spin, and bouncing that might otherwise occur in that area.

Importance of Grip

A good grip on the paddle is crucial in table tennis, as it impacts a player’s ability to control the ball and execute precise shots. The most widely used grip among top players is the Shakehand grip, which provides optimal control and accuracy in professional matches.

For beginners, understanding the importance of grip is even more crucial, as it allows them to exercise control over the ball and make precise shots when touching the table. By touching the table and managing sweat, players can maintain a firm grip on their paddle throughout the match, ensuring they deliver powerful and accurate shots.

This seemingly small detail can make a significant difference in a player’s performance and overall success.

Establishing Position and Distance

A group of people playing table tennis in a tournament
Touching the table also plays a pivotal role in establishing position and distance in ping pong, as it influences a player’s stability, balance, and ability to strike the ball precisely on the playing surface.

Some players touch the table between points to ascertain the distance to the table and guarantee an appropriate stance and position.

By observing the rotational path of the ball, professional players can formulate their approach more efficiently and improve ball contact and trajectory.

Spatial Awareness and Gauging Distance

Having spatial awareness is a key skill, as it enables players to refine psychomotor skills, concentration, reflexes, and strategy. Additionally, it allows for accurate recognition of the position, orientation, shape, and size of objects in a three-dimensional space.

Touching the table with fingertips allows players to gain an understanding of their proximity to the table before serving or receiving the serve, ensuring they are appropriately positioned for optimal performance.

By maintaining constant contact with the table and gauging their distance, players can better anticipate their opponent’s shots and respond accordingly. This heightened spatial awareness can give players a significant edge in a competitive match, increasing their chances of success.

Serving Advantage

I’ve talked about it before, but serving is probably one of the most important skills for table tennis players to master, as it is the only occasion in which a player has complete control over the ball.

A well-executed serve can prevent the opponent from making powerful attacks and increase the server’s chances of making successful attacks. Being closer to the table allows the opponent less opportunity to respond and return the ball, providing the server with a clear advantage.

Receiving Serve

Receiving serves in ping pong is just as important, as it permits the receiver to level the playing field with the server, allowing them to take the initiative and potentially score a point.

Touching the table with palms assists the receiver in preserving balance and steadiness, which may help better receive the serve. It also allows the receiver to establish position and distance, and assess the distance between them and the server, ensuring they are well-prepared to counter the incoming serve.

By touching the table before receiving a serve, players can better anticipate the ball’s trajectory and respond accordingly. This heightened readiness can significantly impact the outcome of the point, increasing the receiver’s chances of success.

Psychological Tactics

Another aspect of touching the table in ping pong is the psychological tactics it can evoke. Developing good habits and routines, slowing down the game, and intimidating opponents are all potential reasons for players to touch the table during a match.

By doing so, they can unnerve their opponent and gain a psychological advantage, ultimately increasing their chances of success in the game.

Developing Good Habits and Routine

Establishing good habits and routines encourages consistency and allows you to refine your skills, leading to improved performance in both casual games and tournaments. Frequent repetition, concentrating on technique, and establishing objectives are some approaches for developing beneficial habits and routines.

Here I’d recommend self-aware practice. If you actually monitor your progress, pay attention to when you make mistakes while practicing and why those mistakes happen, it’ll be easier to stay motivated and also progress much much faster.

Consistency is key and touching the table during a match is one easy way players can reinforce good habits and routines, ultimately improving their performance and increasing their chances of success.

Slowing Down the Game

Slowing down the game can allow players to exercise greater control over the ball and execute more precise shots, thus potentially increasing their chances of success in a match. Some strategies for moderating the pace of the game include employing spin, adjusting the velocity of their shots, and executing defensive shots.

By touching the table, players can take a moment to compose themselves and strategize, effectively slowing down the game and increasing their chances of scoring points.


Intimidation can play a significant role in ping pong, as it can make opponents feel less at ease and provide a psychological advantage. Tactics employed to intimidate opponents include aggressive body language, such as staring, and making loud noises to make them feel uncomfortable.

Intimidation may be employed to gain a psychological advantage by instilling a feeling of insecurity in opponents, thereby increasing the likelihood of errors. By touching the table and employing intimidation tactics, players can unnerve their opponents and gain a psychological edge, ultimately increasing their chances of success in the match.

Pre-Point Rituals and Routines

In a professional table tennis match, table tennis players often incorporate a table tennis players touch, where they touch the table before a point as part of their pre-point rituals and routines.

These actions, including the table tennis players rub, serve to build confidence, maintain focus, and prepare for the return shot, ultimately contributing to a player’s overall success in the match and showcasing the unique table tennis culture. Table tennis tables play a crucial role in these rituals and routines, providing the perfect surface for the game.

It is important for players to develop their own pre-point rituals and routines that work for them. This could include anything from a specific hand gesture to a certain number of bounces of the ball.

Building Confidence

Building confidence is essential in playing table tennis, as it enables players to execute more proficiently, take decisions more judiciously, and is strongly associated with success. Touching the ping pong table can help players calm themselves and augment their confidence, allowing them to make calculated decisions regarding the placement of the ball and the manner in which it is struck.

Maintaining Focus

Maintaining focus while playing ping pong is essential, as it enables the player to be responsive to the ball and make precise shots. It also assists in enhancing hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and tactical reasoning abilities.

Touching the table can help players reestablish their concentration during a game, particularly in the face of potential distractions such as a crowd, TV cameras, or their opponent’s movements.

Wrapping Up

The seemingly simple action of touching the table in ping pong carries a multitude of strategic purposes.

From maintaining balance and stability, managing sweat, establishing position and distance, to employing psychological tactics and pre-point rituals, this fascinating aspect of table tennis significantly impacts a player’s performance and success.

Understanding the intricacies of this sport can provide a fresh perspective and newfound appreciation for the skill, strategy, and finesse involved in the exciting world of ping pong.

If you’re just getting started with the sport, check out our guide to the best ping pong paddles as well as the ultimate guide to the best ping pong tables. This might save you a bunch of money assuming you’ve not already made the investments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do table tennis players touch the table after a rally?

To improve their grip on the paddle, table tennis players rub their hands on the table after a rally. This ensures they have the best hold possible on the bat during their next serve or return, allowing them to play at their highest level.

By rubbing their hands on the table, players gain a tangible advantage that helps them win points.

Are you allowed to touch the table in ping pong?

Yes, you’re allowed to touch the table but only gently. If the table moves from your hand touching it, this would be counted as a point for your opponent.

How to play ping pong?

Playing ping pong requires following the official rules, such as playing to 11 points, serving every two points, alternating serves in doubles and ensuring that the ball clears the net when serving.

For a successful rally, make sure to alternate hitting in doubles and observe “let” serves when the ball touches the net on the way over.

How is ping pong played?

Ping pong is a two-player or team-based game, in which players use paddles to hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth over a table tennis net. Points are scored when either player fails to return the ball correctly, such as hitting it out of bounds or having it land on the wrong side of the net.

The game is popular worldwide, with many tournaments and competitions held throughout the year. It is also a great way to stay active and have fun with friends and family. With the right equipment and a bit of practice, anyone can become a ping pong master!

How to serve in ping pong?

To serve in ping pong, hold the ball with your open palm behind the end of the table and toss it at least 6” up. Hit the ball as it falls and make sure it reaches the other side of the table.