Warm-up Exercises

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Warm-up exercises should be an essential part of your routine before playing table tennis.
Here are a few you can use...

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Warm-up exercises are important by courtesy of the ITTF

Table tennis is a fast physical sport which requires agility, speed and quick reactions.

Therefore it's important that you perform warm-up and warm-down (cool-down) exercises prior to starting a session, and at the end of a session.

Warming-up before you play reduces the risk of tearing or straining muscles, whilst cooling down will clear the system of the chemicals in the body (produced by the exercise) that can result in muscle stiffness.


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To perform any of these exercises you should already have a reasonable level of fitness.

If you are in any doubt about your fitness, you should first consult a medical expert for advice.

The warm-up should...

  • Raise your core body temperature
  • Increase your resting pulse rate by 10-30 beats per minute
  • Include low intensity exercises
  • Be low impact
  • Be rhythmic and continuous
  • Move from general to specific muscle groups
  • Include stretching of major muscle groups
  • Last approximately 10 minutes

Warm-ups are important because they...

  • Help prevent injury by raising the temperature in muscles and increasing circulation around joints
  • Increase oxygen delivery to the muscles to enable more vigorous activity
  • Encourage muscles to contract, faster and stronger
  • Improve co-ordination


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How To Warm Up

The warm-up exercises and cool down period should last for approximately ten minutes, with five minutes of very light jogging and five minutes of stretching and flexibility exercises.

You should wear an outer layer on top of your table tennis clothing, such as a track suit or waterproof suit, in order to keep you warm but it must not restrict your movements.

You should start your warm-up with 2-3 minutes of light jogging. This will increase your core body temperature and heart rate and warm up the muscles and associated tissues.

After 2-3 minutes of general jogging you should then move onto table tennis specific movements such as shuffle (side to side) footwork.

You can see the shuffle (side to side) footwork in action in this video.


After about 5 minutes of light jogging and shuffle (side to side) footwork, you then need to do some static stretching exercises.

Stretching exercises by courtesy of the ITTF


  • reduces muscle tension
  • reduces the risk of muscle and tendon injuries
  • increases the flexibility and freedom of movement

Static stretching exercises should involve the whole body, so you'll need to stretch the...

  • neck and shoulders
  • lower back and abdomen
  • buttocks, groin and hips
  • front and back of thigh
  • lower leg and ankle

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Flexibility / Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises by courtesy of the ITTF

These exercises involve the major muscle groups used in table tennis and you should stretch them through their full range of movement.

However, you need to make sure that you...

  • Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds, but do not bounce
  • Repeat each stretch 2-3 times
  • Stretch gently and slowly and keep breathing
  • Stretch to the point of tension, never pain

Here are a few examples of stretching exercises you could use...

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stretching exercises Inner thigh
stretching exercises Ankle extensions
stretching exercises Ankle flexes
stretching exercises Hips and Groin - soles of feet touching and gently pushing down the knees.
stretching exercises Hamstring - keeping the back straight, pull the leg towards the body keeping the leg straight.
stretching exercises Trunk - bend to either side keeping hips stationary.
stretching exercises Lower back - kneel with hands flat on floor. Lift right arm and left leg and extend horizontally (repeat with left arm and right leg).
stretching exercises Arms and Shoulders - Hands together above the head, push the head forwards and the hands back with the arms straight.
stretching exercises Arms and Shoulders - Hands on wall, push the shoulders downwards.
stretching exercises Arms and Shoulders - Join the hands over one shoulder and pull.
stretching exercises Arms and Shoulders - As above but using a towel.
stretching exercises Arms and Shoulders - Hand on the opposite elbow and push backwards.

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Shadow Play Exercises

After your jogging and stretching exercises you can also use imaginary stroke play and related movements (shadow play).

By performing a range of different strokes you can warm up your muscles ready for your table tennis session.

So go through a few repetitions of the forehand drive, backhand drive, forehand chop and backhand chop.

You should ensure that you use your whole body as you do these strokes, so ensure that you bend your knees and twist your trunk.

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For more information on how to play table tennis and improve your game, take a look at my other tips and techniques articles...

Basic Skills


Advanced Skills


Strategies and Tactics




Skill Tests






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