Good footwork is paramount to develop and succeed in table tennis. Efficient movement enables a player to arrive at the ball earlier and have a greater option of strokes therefore reducing the opponent’s recovery time.

A good ready position with feet slightly wider than the shoulders and with a low centre of gravity is key to effective movement whilst maintaining balance. If the stance is too narrow or too wide balance is affected.

Side stepping footwork is most commonly used in table tennis. Movement to the right begins by pushing off the left foot and the right foot moving into position with the left leg following to maintain balance (vice versa for movement in the other direction).

(Liam Pitchford shadowing the Falkenberg and then mirroring side stepping with Scott Hollowood)
When covering large distances away from the table cross over footwork should be used. This is similar to a running action and as a result may reduce the efficiency of the stroke. See clip below.

One step footwork is used when the ball is played very quickly and there is insufficient time to get in the correct position. It can be used to move from side to side and in and away from the table.

Regular and irregular exercises can be used to improve the various types of footwork. Here are some examples of exercises used:

Speed and Agility exercises are a great way to improve footwork off the table. Alex Perry explains some of these training methods which are used with the national squads. These could be done for a short period (e.g. 20 minutes) at the end of a coaching session.

As footwork is such a fundamental part of the game it should be an integral part of your training. Good footwork is the result of practice, in the same way that you would practice your strokes.