One of the hardest things to improve is good placement. When I first began I Naturally wanted to hit every ball 100 miles per hour irrelevant of the ball received!
At 17/18 I was playing some of the best table tennis of my career and was flying at Bath Grand Prix Band 1. I beat 3 players in the top 30 and reached the final where I faced England no.76 at the time. I was on fire bombing shout from both wings and felt I would wipe the floor with my opponent in the final 'how wrong I would prove myself to be' :-(
I lost 3-0 and before I had a chance to realise what had happened my first band 1 final was over and done! Everyone who watched the final was in shocked, as to how badly I got beaten.
At the time I just took it on the chin and admitted to myself that he was better on that occasion and went back to my usual play of trying to hit every ball hard. A few years down the line after becoming a coach I reflected on that loss and remember clearly being outplayed by a player who put the ball in places where I was unbalanced and could not reach. He did not posses power but fantastic placement and deception. Today I have learnt to adopt that skill alongside power when the opportunity arises.
So how did I improve my placement? 1. Putting targets on the table when doing exercises for example a piece of paper and then folding it in half every time I hit, or placing chess pieces and attempting to hit targets but thinking about my target e.g. knock the king down and I've won :-) 2. Table restriction, put a towel in a certain area for example. or as shown put barriers in the way to increase or decrease angles 3. Watching my opponent and placing the ball into their crossover section or using the angles, depending on where they are standing.
I have placed some pictures and videos to help you see better what I mean.
When you learn to place the ball where you wish it to go you will often hear players saying you make me feel uncomfortable playing you and I don't know what it is that your doing?!
Another tip to help you improve your ball placement, take two pieces of paper one on each side. Play with your opponent in attempts to hit the paper, who ever hits the paper then folds it. this makes the target smaller and harder to hit. you can increase the difficulty by varying the papers location.
Lastly focus on the angles given for example if your hitting the ball from the right hand side (your side) you have a wide angle to the left hand side of their (table side) use it and if you see them ready then go down the line but try to be as precises as possible by hitting the white line and making it deep.
A deep ball means towards the end of the table and that's also a great use of placement. when knocking up watch where your ball lands and try to make it land deep as often as possible.