Today, we will learn one of the most common serves in table tennis “the forehand pendulum serve”. This service is so popular because with slight adjustments it can make underspin, sidespin, topspin, or no-spin, while the stroke will look quite similar. This service is used to put pressure on the opponent.
What is the pendulum serve?
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A detailed guide to Serve technique makes it easy for everyone to understand and practice.
The serve is known as a pendulum serve because the movement of the bat is similar to how the weight on a pendulum (such as a grandfather clock) travels back and forth.
Typically, this serve is delivered from the server’s backhand corner. This is due to the sort of sidespin used on the ball, which causes the receiver’s return to move towards the server’s backhand.
Most servers intend to take a step to the left and launch a hard forehand shot from their backhand corner. The usage of sidespin allows the server to control where the return will most likely land.
Watch the full list of 10 basic table tennis for the beginner here.
Based on the spin direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise), you will have the pendulum or the reverse pendulum serve.
How to play the pendulum serve
To perform the forehand pendulum serves effectively, you should change the grip on the racket, then immediately change back to prepare for the rally.
First, prepare your position for this service. Turn your back. This is crucial because the rotation of your body will increase the spin of your service. Some players don’t turn the back enough so they can’t add enough spin and can’t make the deceptive service.
Second, throw the ball upward and close the body. The closer the ball to the body, the higher quality of your service. Your forearm should be relaxed. Please remember, it’s not the forearm that will make the ball spin, but it’s the rotation of your body and the acceleration of the wrist. So be relaxed!
Some amateur players are too tense, hence decreasing the quality of the service.
Third, lower the center of gravity of the body. Contact the ball at the net height. This point is very important. If you contact the ball higher, the service is high and can be attacked easily. If you contact the ball too low, you can’t add enough spin to your serve.
3 tips to make the pendulum serve deceptive
How to make this serve deceptive with a lot of spins. Heavy spin serve is very difficult to read.
Tip 1 – Acceleration is the key
First, use the wrist to accelerate the ball. The faster you hit the ball, the higher spin it gets. You should also use the body mass to add power to your service.
Watch this video.
Tip 2 – Relax your forearm
Second, the body, the forearm should be relaxed. The muscle is soft, not tense. Hit the ball near your abdomen. Because this position is near the rotation axis of your body (the elbow is close to the body).
Timo Boll used a lot of wrists for his forehand pendulum serve.
Watch this video.
Tip 3 – Change the contact point
Third, vary the contact point on the racket and the timing on your swing to make your service more deceptive. This service is very dangerous, so take the time to practice it.
Ma Long’s pendulum serve example
Ma Long has a very good pendulum serve. Ma Long has one of the best pendulum serve in table tennis.
His serve is not only spinny, but also it’s very hard to predict the amount of spin on his serve. The pendulum serve has the sidespin, so it will jump from the right to the left on the opponent’s table.
It’s hard to predict the bounce. Sometimes, it will bounce more to the left. So it’s harder to flick the serve of the pro player.
Ma Long can also change the placement of the serve (to the forehand side).
Watch this video.
And this is the reverse pendulum serve. The ball jumps from the left to the right.
Ma Long’s pendulum serve is short, so it’s hard to attack it strong. Because it has sidespin, when you push it, Ma Long will attack it right after the serve (3rd ball attack).
That’s why Ma Long has one of the best “set up” serve in table tennis.
What does Ma Long practice for the serve?
He is practicing the placement. With this type of serve, he knows exactly where the ball will be returned.
Because you must return to counter the spin of the serve, the ball is returned to the pivot corner of Ma Long.
This is the favorite position of Ma Long, to attack the next ball.
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