Table Tennis Playing Styles

The Many Different Ways to Play the Sport of Table Tennis

Table tennis table and paddles, elevated view
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It can be tough being a new table tennis player at times, and trying to get a handle on all the jargon. Sooner or later, when table tennis players get together, the conversation will drift to discussions of other players and how they play. Terms such as just a blocker, rpb style, or two wing looper will be thrown around, and everyone will nod their head, knowing what is being talked about. All except you, who is standing there scratching your head wondering why everybody is suddenly speaking a foreign language.

To help you come to grips with all the table tennis lingo, we’re going to take a look at the generalizations players make when talking about table tennis styles, as well as the specific styles that are in use today.

Categorizing Playing Styles

When talking about playing styles in table tennis, it is easy to get confused. There are a number of ways to play the game, so it is not always easy to define precisely every style.

Nonetheless, it is useful to have some general categories, so that people have a common frame of reference when talking about a particular player's style. To help you in this, let's have a look at the two common methods of categorizing playing styles, the traditional method and the modern method.

  • Traditional Categories - Attacker, Blocker, Defender
  • Modern Method - Level of Aggression

List of Playing Styles

  • Two Wing Looper
  • Two Wing Hitter
  • One Wing Looper/One Wing Hitter
  • Penhold Pips Out Hitter
  • Penhold Looper
  • Reverse Penhold Backhand (RPB)
  • Classic Defender
  • Modern Defender
  • Blocker
  • Push/Blocker