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Table 2 Results of systematic literature search for scientific articles

From: Developing a tool to assess technical skills in talented youth table tennis players—a multi-method approach combining professional and scientific literature and coaches’ perspectives

Authora Year Design Sample Method type
Method set-up
Technical element/Focus Stroke Findings
Sex n Age (years ± SD) Country Performance level
Marinovic [69] 2004 Comparison of four conditions (FH drive against two bounces with topspin, two bounces with sidespin, one bounce with topspin and one bounce with sidespin) m (6), f (1) 7 27.9 ± 5.4 Brazil Highly skilled: previous members of the Brazilian national team OR E Controlling velocity of a FH drive stroke (hit, relative and absolute time, peak velocity) FH drive Highly skilled table tennis players need to adjust striking velocity and time (relative and absolute) to reach the peak of velocity in the forward swing phase for the task modifications.
Iino [70] 2008 Comparison of two conditions (BH topspin against topspin and backspin). m 11 21.1 ± 4.4 Japan Advanced table tennis players (international = 4, collegiate = 7) TR & OR E Kinematic chain (contribution of joint rotations to the racket head velocity) BH topspin The racket upward velocity at impact was significantly higher in the backhand against backspin than against topspin, while the forward velocity was not significantly different.
Iino [71] 2009 Comparison of levels (advanced versus intermediate) and conditions (FH topspin against light and heavy backspin) m 17 Advanced: 20.6 ± 1.2; Intermediate: 20.6 ± 1.5 Japan Collegiate table tennis players (9 advanced and 8 intermediate) TR & OR E Kinematic chain (contributions of joint rotations to the racket speed, the racket kinematics at ball impact, the time required for racket acceleration, and the maximum slope of the racket speed-time curve) FH topspin The advanced players showed a significantly larger contribution of lower trunk axial rotation to the racket speed at impact and a significantly larger value of the racket speed-time curve’s maximal slope, and tended to require a less time for racket acceleration than the intermediate players. The racket speed at impact was not significantly different between the two player groups. The players adjusted the racket face angle rather than the inclination of the racket path at impact to the different ball spins. The results suggest that the ability to accelerate the racket in less time in the topspin forehand against backspin balls may be an important factor that affects the performance level.
Iino [72] 2011 Comparison of levels (advanced versus intermediate) and conditions (FH topspin against light and heavy backspin) m 17 Advanced: 20.6 ± 1.2 Intermediate: 20.6 ± 1.5 Japan Collegiate table tennis players (9 advanced and 8 intermediate) OR E Racket speed (kinetics; joint forces and torques of the racket arm and the amount of mechanical energy generated and transferred) FH topspin Owing to a larger shoulder internal rotation torque, the advanced players transferred mechanical energy from the trunk of the body to the upper arm at a higher rate than the intermediate players could.
Van Biesen [73] 2012 Comparison of level (players with and without intellectual disability) m (53), f (35) 88 Player with intellectual disability: male 27 ± 8 female 28 ± 8;
Control group
male 24 ± 12 female 20 ± 10
Multiple Elite players with intellectual disability (71) and a regional control group without intellectual disability (17) TR E Technical proficiency Contra, topspin, block, push, and smash These results suggest that impaired cognitive functioning may have a direct bearing on technical proficiency in sport.
Malagoli Lanzoni [74] 2014 Comparison of styles (European versus Asian playing styles) m 20 26.8 ± 4.7 Europe/Asia Elite players (world's top 30 players; European 6 and Asian 14) TR & OR C Bat grip, type of stroke (push, flick, topspin, block, top-counter-top, lob, smash, drive), type of footwork (one step, chasse, slide, pivot, crossover, no step), shot outcome (winner, return, error) All A strong association was found between strokes and footwork types, with most stroke types executed each after specific footwork types. When compared to Europeans, Asians used more frequently the most aggressive strokes and footwork types, confirming anecdotal claims on their particularly offensive playing style. Asians showed also a better serving effectiveness, often sending the ball in those areas of the table from which a counterattack is difficult to make.
Katsikadelis [34] 2014 Reliability study m (16), f (14) 30 13.3 ± 0.9 Greek Youth players with 3 years training experiences, training at least 4 times a week OR E Hits within a certain amount of time (repetitive accuracy task). FH and BH topspin, flip, counter-drive From the results it is shown that the overall reliability of the studied TTSBT was high (a = 0.85). However, 3 tests were excluded from the testing battery due to their low reliability. In conclusion, the TTSBT is generally a reliable test battery which focuses on the evaluation of the technical skills and the table tennis performance progress of the young players.
Van Biesen [75] 2014 Comparison of simulation testing and game play m (13), f (11) 24 25 ± 6 Multiple Top 16 players of 2009 with intellectual disabilities TR E & C Technical proficiency Flick, FH topspin, BH topspin, contra, block, and push Ratings of overall technical proficiency were not significantly different between Simulation Testing and Game Play conditions. There was a strong positive correlation between technical proficiency measured during Game Play vs. Simulation Testing for the variables flick, topspin forehand, and topspin backhand. No correlations were found for the variables contra, block, and push.
Suzuki [76] 2015 Comparison of levels (advanced versus intermediate) and conditions (six temporal constraint conditions) ? 14 College-age players Japan College-age players (7 advanced and 7 novices) TR & OR E Robustness of stroke trajectories and hitting accuracy FH and BH Robustness to the temporal constraint was higher for the advanced players than for the novices.
Fu [77] 2016 Comparison of levels (superior versus intermediate) m 26 ? Japan National first (13) and second division (13) players TR E Center of pressure trajectory FH topspin loop Compared to intermediate players, superior players showed significantly larger medio–lateral COP displacement at backward-end and significantly smaller anterior–posterior displacement at both backward and forward ends. In addition, the ratio of COP velocity between forward swing and backswing was much higher for superior subjects. Results indicated that superior players possessed better foot drive technique and ability of foot motion control during forehand loop.
Le Mansec [78] 2016 Comparison of levels (expert versus advanced versus inexperienced) m 52 26.1 ± 8.7 France Expert (20), advanced (14), and inexperienced (18) players OR E Stroke performance: ball speed, accuracy and performance index (speed*accuracy/100) FH topspin Ball speed and accuracy were greater in experts than in the other groups, and both ball speed and accuracy were correlated with the level of the players.
Padulo [79] 2016 Comparison of levels (elite versus intermediate versus non-table tennis players) m 28 Elite:
24.71 ± 2.99; Intermediate:
29.50 ± 2.26;
Not playing: 28.87 ± 2.56
Italy Elite (11), intermediate (6) and not playing (11) OR E Ball speed
(in addition also reaction time and response time)
FH and BH In the ball speed test the elite were constantly faster compared to the intermediate group in both forehand stroke and backhand stroke. Overall, the forehand stroke was significantly faster than the backhand stroke.
Qian [80] 2016 Comparison of levels (superior versus intermediate) m 26 Superior:
20.1 ± 0.9; intermediate: 21.2 ± 1.6
China Professional players of university team (13 superior and 13 intermediate) OR E 3-D lower limb kinematics (joint angles of ankle, knee and hip, angular changing rate) and foot contact area FH loop Superior players showed significantly larger hip flexion and knee external rotation at backward-end and larger hip internal rotation and extension at forward-end compared to intermediate players. Foot contact areas at both events were larger for superior players. In addition, superior players showed significantly larger joints angular changing rate during forward swing at the ankle and hip. Results indicated that superior players possessed better ability of using lower limb drive in forehand loop.
Bańkosz [81] 2017 Comparison of strokes f 12 20.0 ± 5.5 Poland High level players (ranked TOP 16 in juniors or seniors) OR E Duration of shots, distance (trajectory) of the racquet, racquet velocity FH topspin and BH topspin The longest racquet trajectory was related to forehand shots, shots played against a ball with backspin and winner shots. The maximum racquet velocity was precisely in the moment of impact with the ball, which is probably the most important principle in playing technique.
Zhang [82] 2017 Comparison of level (experts vs. novices) m 20 Experts: 24.1 ± 1.6; Novices 23.1 ± 4.1 ? Professional players (10) and beginners from general university population without prior training (10) OR E Stroke alignment based on the racket center motion (accuracy and phase durations) FH stroke Experts show higher racket resultant velocity than novices during both the forward swing and follow through phases by up to a factor of two.
Ivanek [83] 2018 Relation between technical/tactical evaluation conducted by coaches and performance. ? 48 18–36 Bosnia-Herzegovina Top senior players TR E Efficiency of play (coach evaluation (n = 5)) All Results indicate that technical and tactical characteristics have a major impact on the player’s performance and are essential for table tennis success.
Malagoli Lanzoni [84] 2018 Comparison of strokes (cross-court versus long-line topspin) m 7 22.2 ± 3.2 Italy Competitive players of the first and second national league TR & OR E Kinematic chain FH topspin Significantly more flexed right knee and elbow angles were measured at the moment of maximum velocity of the racket (MMV) in long-line FH topspin. In addition, significantly greater angles between the feet and the table and between the shoulders and the table at the MMV, indicate more pronounced rotation angles of the lower upper and upper-body in long-line compared to cross-court with respect to the table. A higher inclination of the racket at the MMV was found in long-line shots. The elbow flexion and the racket inclination may be associated to the direction of the shot.
Mocanu [85] 2018 Intervention study (experimental versus control group) f 20 Junior I or II Romania Junior players (ranks 8th to 133rd place; 10 experimental group and 10 control group) OR E Correctness (hit on the table) FH and BH topspin The comparative data obtained from the initial and final testing in the control and experimental group validated both the increase in the efficiency of topspin and re-topspin in the attack and the opportunity to use these tests to measure the progress in the technical-tactical and specific movement skills expression.
Wang [86] 2018 Comparison of level (elite vs. amateur players) m 20 ? ? 10 elite and 10 amateur players TR E Lower limb kinematics and muscle activity BH topspin loop against backspin The present study revealed that elite players could complete this technical motion more economically than amateur players, meanwhile, elite players were more efficient in muscle usage and showed better balance ability. Elite players prepare better for the stroke, which can lead to quicker shots, and shorter time of reaching the location of the swing with better adjustment of the swing action.
Yu [87] 2019 Comparison of level (professional versus beginners) m 18 professionals: 23.5 ± 1.24; beginners: 22.7 ± 1.62 China Professional players (9) and beginners (10) TR E Biomechanical characteristics (kinematics and kinetics) Footwork: chasse step The results of the present study demonstrated that professional players possessed greater foot drive technique.
Sung [88] 2019 Multiple case-study (comparison of four top players) m 4 Adults China/ Germany Top players OR C Score rate, usage rate and comprehensive technical score rate All Technical skills of these four top players were versatile. Their styles of play were unique; all of them received excellent in the evaluation of three-staged techniques. Serve, attack after serve using forehand stroke, attack after receive using backhand stroke, continuous forehand stroke attack, and continuous backhand stroke attack were the main technical skills which could be used to predict the result of the game for winning 2017 World Table Tennis Championships in men’s single event.
Bańkosz [89] 2020 Comparison of strokes (topspin after topspin versus topspin after backspin; intra- and interindividual variability) m 7 23 ± 2 Poland Top 10 national players TR & OR E Kinematic parameters (angles and acceleration of the hand) FH topspin The difference in acceleration at the moment of contact between the two types of the topspin forehand was significant, but the variability of the acceleration values was small. Large variability in the angular parameters was found, and this result was considered a manifestation of different coordination patterns in the stroke movements. It is possible that even though the players used different methods of performing the movement, they obtained similar values for some parameters (e.g., acceleration), which should be taken into account by coaches. There were small differences in many parameters within individual players, which can indicate that a player performs tasks in a similar way each time. However, there was high variability in some angular parameters, indicating that the repetitions of particular strokes were not performed in an identical way.
  1. TR technique-related, OR outcome-related, E experimental, C competition, FH forehand, BH backhand, ? unknown
  2. aOnly the first author is mentioned