How do you serve in table tennis?
Table tennis serve is very important, and is the first shot in table tennis that you should learn. I will explain the best way to serve and how to serve short with side spin in table tennis.
In general, players are taught to how to do the heavy underspin serve, but they don’t understand the purpose of this serve. This is not good. You need to understand why you do this serve, and prepare to attack the next shots! That’s why it’s called as “set-up serve” in table tennis.
Procedure to Serve Short with No Spin
At the amateur level, we are taught to serve short, but the coach didn’t focus enough on how to serve short with a high amount of spin. Normally, to serve short, we should:
- contact the ball as low as possible (lower or at the net height).
- make the first bounce very close to the net, so the second bounce on the opponent’s side is also short and near the net too.
But, this service is short but with less spin, therefore less dangerous. It’s easier to return the short serve without spin than the serve with a lot of spins. You can drop short this service and control the placement of your return.
There is also a good “tricky table tennis serve”! It’s called as “Ghost serve”!
Chinese Philosophy of Table Tennis Serve
- a good short serve must have a high variation of spin. Because spin will make the service more deceptive.
- a good short serve will stop the opponent to attack your service. However, they should not return it easily. (they can’t drop shot and can’t return your service to anywhere on the table as they want).
- and finally, after your short serve, you must attack first. To do that, the server should find a way to add “energy” to the short service so the returned ball is long and you can attack it.
How to add sidespin in table tennis serve?
Chinese players rarely use a short serve without spin. They are taught to serve short but spinny. The best way to serve short and spinny is “adding sidespin” to the ball. There are 2 reasons, you should do that.
There are 3 types of spin in table tennis serves: backspin (also called underspin), sidespin, and topspin.
Did you know that, there are 2 types of sidespin in table tennis? (Pendulum and Reverse Pendulum)
Short serve with backspin (underspin)
First reason, because add sidespin is the safest way to add “Energy” to your service. Short serve with backspin, the second bounce on the opponent side, the ball will bounce up and can be attacked. So it’s rather risky.
Short serve with topspin
Short table tennis serve with topspin, the second bounce on the opponent table, the ball will jump forward outside the table. So it’s difficult to keep the service with topspin short. If your service is long, the opponent will attack first.
Short serve with sidespin
Short serve with sidespin. Side spin affects little the trajectory of the ball. Therefore, you can add much spin to your service and keep it short. All the energy is transferred to the spin with less effect on the bouncing.
It’s difficult to drop short the ball with sidespin. If the opponent pushes this ball, the returned ball will be long and you can attack it first. If the opponent flips the ball, he must counter the direction of the spin so you can predict the placement of the returned ball.
In general, there are 3 table tennis techniques related to the “flick” (or flips):
Sidespin helps you control the placement
Second reason. Sidespin is the way you control the placement of the next ball. The placement of the ball is very important, which will affect your 3rd ball attack and also your playing style.
There are 2 types of sidespin: clockwise rotation which is called as pendulum serve, and anti-clockwise rotation (called as reversed pendulum serve).
Best Table Tennis Serve
If you are the Backhand dominant player like Zhang Jike. You prefer using your Backhand at a larger area on the table: your left side, also in front of your body, and a little bit at your right side. You want that the opponent returns the ball more to your right side. That’s why Zhang Jike prefers using the Reverse Pendulum serve: the ball spins to his left so the returned ball will go to the position he is waiting for.
So please remember, side-spin will make difficult for the opponent to return your service. The ball with sidespin is deceptive and prevents the opponent from returning it shortly. Sidespin is also the way you control the placement of the returned ball. The placement of the returned ball is the opposite of the spin direction and can be predicted.
Legal serve vs illegal table tennis serve?
Some players asked me “Should I do the illegal serve ?” and “how to know the service is acceptable!”
My answer is: “No! Don’t do illegal serve, and you should prepare yourself to deal with dirty, tricky serve”. Here you are!