View Full Version : Question about reflexes

06-18-2016, 10:43 PM
Hi everyone, I just stumbled across this forum, I'm from really far away but don't have any other forum where I can make some questions and make inquieres.

I'm now asking about reflexes.

Like everyone know, reflexes are super important in table tennis, and as of now (trained for 6 hours in my whole life and I'm 30 now) mines are not that good... I mean, It's like I wait for the ball to be on my side to start my actions, and eventually, they don't always end good.

My question is actually, if this will develop with time or if it is something innate you need to have to be at least trained enough to enjoy some matches... I won't be a pro, that's for sure, I just wan't to have some fun, make exercise and develop some skills in this great sport.

Thanks a lot for taking time to read this.

Have a nice weekend!

Edit: Just realized some typos in the text, please, be kind, English is not my native language.

Luis Nasche
06-18-2016, 10:59 PM
My question is actually, if this will develop with time ...

Yes, it will.

Tony's Table Tennis
06-18-2016, 11:04 PM
Yes it will develop with time
Practice cross court, fh to fh. The landing spot will not be consistent, and you will need to adjust your movement
1st hour vs 1000th hour, you can spot a big different with movement/reaction time or what you call as reflexes

Good luck :)

06-18-2016, 11:08 PM
Thanks for the answers!

I'm starting to train twice a week, believe it or not, I'm still a student, so I don't have much time left, but this is good to know, that is not that I'm just too slow to play :D

06-18-2016, 11:36 PM
It'll totally come with time. One thing I found really helpful (I'm a learning player myself) is that after you make your shot try to get your racket back to a "ready position" right away.

06-19-2016, 12:17 AM
Over time, you will be able to unconciously predict will the ball will go. You will slowly become more familiar with these shots. Just keep playing.

In this sport, we generally do not want to be surprised all the time. Then, we would really have to rely on reflexes. You want to be able to anticipate where the ball will go, and plan your shot accordingly.

06-19-2016, 01:47 AM
Over time, you will be able to unconciously predict will the ball will go. You will slowly become more familiar with these shots. Just keep playing.

In this sport, we generally do not want to be surprised all the time. Then, we would really have to rely on reflexes. You want to be able to anticipate where the ball will go, and plan your shot accordingly.

Much appreciated comment!

I will keep on playing, while I'm a just starting player, I may upload some videos to get some help with my form and strokes.

Thanks a lot!

06-19-2016, 02:04 AM
Most likely your reflexes are fine. You're probably not innately slow.

As you play more, your ability to predict and see the ball will get better. You'll start acting sooner.

I'm sure if you compared the moment when a pro player starts to move vs when you start to move after an opponent's stroke, there would be a very clear difference. It's not reflexes: it's just game sense.

06-19-2016, 04:20 AM
Try the ttedge app. Thinking that its just about reflex is a little too simplistic. Its also about focusing your brain on the right set of stimulus so that your reflex gives you the correct response. Reflex if defined biologically is your ganglia reacting to external stimuli rather than the stimuli going to your brain and then your brain taking a decision and then your limbs moving. This differentiation will improve as you feed your nervous system with more experience. However, its also about choosing the right set of stimuli , when to watch ball, when to watch the paddle , when to watch the arm, the wrist , or even the head movement. Its very difficult to define what is reflex and what is learned behavior. So don't worry about this part, just tell yourself its not about reflex, focus on developing skills and as long as you are in good hands the rest will follow.

06-19-2016, 09:20 AM

It's really great to know that I just need more and more training to be able to return all (almost :P) balls!

06-19-2016, 09:49 AM
In my opinion, the best way to develop your reflexes, practice blocking on both sides. This trains you to follow the ball in a quick manner. It will build confidence too.

06-19-2016, 10:11 AM
well idk about developing reflexes but my reflexes are the best when im warmed up
other exercises before playing table tennis not only helps to build core strength but also makes sure ur reactions r in peak condition :)

06-19-2016, 12:23 PM
Also, you can try the Table Tennis Edge app. It develops your ability to anticipate.

06-19-2016, 06:14 PM
Okay, what I am about to write is not really any different than what has been said already. But maybe the same thing said with a different emphasis and different details highlighted might help.

The issue is not reflexes; instead it is pattern recognition and processing speed. The tricky thing for a new player to understand here is that you are not familiar with the patterns you need to be familiar with for pattern recognition to be possible. So, recognizing patterns and having your brain process the information faster is pretty hard when you are not familiar with the information that would tell you what to look for.

Like, if you can read and understand English but can't understand Italian, you can still read and sort out the words and then figure out what they mean. But, if you don't know the Arabic writing system then it basically looks like you are looking at a bunch of random squiggly lines.

As you play more, you will see where the opponent is aiming his shot sooner and process that information faster and faster.

But this is a key piece of information. Improving at table tennis is much more about seeing what the opponent is doing sooner and getting ready for that than most beginners realize.

There are steps that it is worth understanding that are part of this process.

1) You take your stroke whether FH or BH

2) AND YOU RESET! Really, the reset should be thought of as part of the stroke for Table Tennis. This process of stroke/reset has to happen quite quickly. How quickly? If you are close to the table you should be reset in a ready position ready to do either a FH or a BH BY THE TIME YOUR SHOT LANDS ON THE OPPONENT's side. If you were 4 feet back from the table you could get away with being set just after your shot bounces on the other side. The reset is for the next part. You need to be set to do the next part well.

3) You need to be set to watch the ball, the opponent's racket angle and his body language as he hits the ball. The key here is, you need to be set and in a neutral position as you watch what the opponent does with his shot.

At some point you start understanding what different contact, different angles on the racket, different strokes mean so that you can tell where the ball is going and what spin is on it as the opponent is hitting the ball and so you already have an idea of the options of where the opponent might be going even before he contacts the ball.

All this being said, the TTEdge App actually helps you work on the pattern recognition and brain processing parts of this equation when you are not playing. So, as a few people already suggested, have a look at and think about getting the Table Tennis Edge App.

Sent from Deep Space by Abacus

06-19-2016, 06:37 PM
I have a friend who is lefty who has a really good sidespin loop, a lefty hook. Because he is lefty his hook curves towards my BH. I remember a point where I just couldn't even see where the ball was and trying to swing at it felt very awkward like I was swinging at something that was a reflection in a mirror. Then I remember beginning to see his hook as he hit the ball and having an intuitive sense where the curve on the ball would cause it to end up.

I also remember a friend who has a really good sidespin loop (he is righty so the curve goes towards the FH). I remember that point where I went from not being able to see when he put sidespin on the ball to seeing it as he hit it.

With both of these guys, they don't always hook the ball. They are good players so they choose when they want to hook and when the want their loop to be pure topspin or inside out spin. But it is cool to remember that phase where the brain started processing that stuff and it going from a mystery where I just couldn't see where the ball was, to seeing the whole path of the ball from the contact.

Sent from Deep Space by Abacus

06-19-2016, 06:45 PM
Great comments!!

Thanks a lot everyone is being really helpful!!

06-20-2016, 04:13 AM
The analogy to a foreign language is pretty good. Assuming you learned reasonably well in school, when you first get to the foreign country it just seems too fast. After a week or two, it just seems to magically slow down.

Table tennis will eventually slow down. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are not yet able to predict trajectory very well, more often than not, the mistiming error you will make is to rush your shot.

Believe it or not, you have more time than you think you do.

06-20-2016, 10:45 AM
That analogy is actually great!

I was at a foreign country and is exactly as you describe it, first is insanely fast and then you just start to take pace and everything seems normal.


06-20-2016, 01:00 PM
Try to be confident with your strokes. Hesitating really lowers your speed. So, just think that you are a CNT player and do the shot. Or do not. There is no try. :D (I didn't want to suggest to loop everything without thinking, just be confident.)

06-20-2016, 06:03 PM
Some great table tennis advise, comments. I'm not a highly ranked player by any means but I feel confident in talking about this subject. If I could add anything I would just say that reflexes are not often about you ability to anticipate and react quickly. sure that's some may be a basic definition of it but in table tennis or any sport (and some people are naturaly gifted in this area) but with practice and confidence A persons reflexes really start to become sharpened when that person can rely on a base amount of developed techniques,shots or skills. So in a sense removing some worry or mental concentration about technique or execution from the equation at least to a small degree.

Sports psychologist have written quite a bit about the state of flow, and part of that theory applies. Concentrating on gross motor skill execution type functions can often block freely entering into a pure reactionary reflexive spatially aware, and almost subconscious mind set or state of play. A different part the brain is responsible for spatial awareness and your corresponding reactions, and reflexes than gross motor skill execution. I can definitely tell when I'm overly focused on executing technique re working a shot or somethings that my reactions and full table awareness, and reflexes are worse. I'm not saying that you need to have all the strokes figured out (especially to start having fun which is basically what I'm doing) but when you feel good about a few strokes that you no longer need to think to execute as much this allows you to extend your area of concentration and better play your opponent or the entire table. Having this small base will also help with working in some of the great advise that has already been given. this is an oversimplification Of course. I actually think that a game like table tennis (that requires you to cognitively make so many distinctions regarding reading spin constantly) it makes this harder for non high lel players than some other sports to enter into the flow reactional State of mind for play. but practice or repetition helps in making the reads second nature as well. This is why I think so many people complain about playing pips or dink and punch players. Besides the very true point that Top spin rallies are fun, top spin exchange allows you to play in a reactional even rhythmic state more easily.

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06-20-2016, 06:43 PM
The one thing I will add is that in actual matches, the quality of the ball you hit and the level of your opponent often determine your ability to anticipate. If you hit a weak ball, it is much harder to tell where your opponent is going to hit it next as he has more options with time and control. If you hit a solid ball, most opponents will find it easier to return the ball back to you as it is easier to strike the face of the ball. More experienced opponents can redirect the ball to problem spots, but this is hard to do for the highest quality balls.