Excellent footwork is what makes a difference between an average player and a great player. Players with great footwork can always position themselves for an optimal shot instead of adjusting their racket angle to compensate for imperfect position in relation to the ball.
The first principle of Chinese footwork is:
To move fast you need to stay on your toes as much as possible. Don’t rest you foot’s heel on the the floor.
The 2nd principle
Move. Stop. Hit. Which simply means that you should stop your foot body movement so your feet are firmly planted on the ground before you start forward movement with your hand/shoulder. The Chinese call it ‘hitting with your legs’.
The 3rd principle
Use the whole body to make a stroke i.e. foot pushing off, thigh straightening, waist rotating towards the direction of the stroke, arm moving and finally wrist.
Here is the video illustrating these principles.
Another principle in footwork is to initiate the movement (forward or backward) with your right foot (if you are a right handed player), left foot if you are a left handed player. Here is the video showing this technique. You should not be jumping with both feet at the same time but rather one foot after another in very quick succession.
This is a series of videos showing various fast Chinese footwork drills as demonstrated by a visiting Chines coach and his students at a club in Sweden. The players are left handed so you need to reverse.
Part 1 shows the importance of always being on the move (jumping up) and using your thigh muscles to add power to your forehand shots.
Part 2 shows the transition from forehand to backhand. Again little jumps all the time.
Part 3 shows the pivot footwork in the backhand corner and cross-step to the exposed forehand corner. Notice big push off the back leg to jump into forehand corner. And
Part 4 shows getting under the table and pushing back immediately so you can get in the low ready position to explode with your forehand. Always staying low and in balance.
Part 5 shows body balance and importance to stay loose to be able to move fast.
Part 6 Shows what to do when opponent plays to your middle. The Chinese have no middle because they simply move fast to the forehand position. They only play backhand from the deep backhand position.
Fundamentals of Chinese footwork
Here is a simple and slow motion side step footwork. To move fast keep the feet just slightly off the ground and try to keep the center of gravity steady as you move.
Step around footwork for hitting forehand from backhand corner.
Crossover footwork for reaching far forehand corner quickly. Turn both toes to the right as if you were to run forward parallel to the table end line. Place body weight on the right foot. Push the body rightward with right foot while crossing left foot to the far right in front of the right foot then hit the ball. Afterwards move the right foot naturally to the right side of the left foot to face the table again.
After Service Footwork
Coach EmRatTchich produced a series of videos showing various aspects of table tennis. Here is the video showing how to move from serving position (forehand and backhand) into ready position.
Footwork Training video with commentary.
Training to music
Chinese go as far as making children train to music to reinforce the rhythmic nature of the table tennis footwork. Here is a series of these videos. When you see how they move in unison you wonder how we will ever be able to beat them. But on the other hand it looks like table tennis is fun 🙂