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What Is A Good and Deceptive Serve In Table Tennis?

What is a good serve in table tennis? What is the real purpose of a serve? This is a very good question that every player should understand. Because a serve (or service) is one of the most important shots in table tennis. It’s the only shot that you have full 100% control over it.

In this video, you will learn the 4 factors of a good serve in table tennis. But first of all, we will estimate how many types of serve in table tennis.

 There is a lot of type of serve in table tennis. Today, I want to show you a wonderful demonstration. 49 Ways To Serve in table tennis, performed by coach Ferenc Horvath, the head coach of Paragon Table Tennis. Paragon Table Tennis is a Cambridge-based club, providing coaching for players in England.


What is a good table tennis serve?

Watch video above ☝.

Why not edge serve?

∎ Page Contents ∎

A player asked me:

What prevents professional table tennis players from always serving on the edge of the table?

It is a good question. As in theory, top players can practice serving at the edge of the table. It’s not impossible. But if you asked the same question, maybe you don’t understand the purpose of a serve in table tennis.

As you know, there are 2 types of serve (based on purpose) in table tennis:

  1. Set up serve: Its purpose is to set-up for the next attack.
  2. Ace serve: Its purpose is to win the point directly. Due to the new trend, it becomes harder and harder to win by an ace serve now.

An example of “ace serve” in table tennis: Wang Chuqin vs Truls Moregard

Serving purpose in table tennis

Most of us, amateur players think that serving to the “edge” is strong! So that pro can learn and try to serve to the edge! So they don’t understand what you need to do in a serve!

A good serve must have these 4 factors:

  • Predictable or not?
  • Give advantage for the next shot or not?
  • Deceptive or not?
  • Safe and consistent

Watch video above ☝.


Serving to the edge doesn’t have any of these purposes.

  • Serving to the edge is so predictable. So it’s a weak serve.
  • Serving to the net is to try to win directly. No advantage for you for the next shot.
  • Serving to the edge is not deceptive. Because the opponent can guess the placement and no spin deception.
  • Serving to the edge is not safe and not consistent. No one can assure 100% of success.

That’s why pro never trains to do that! Serving to the edge is very weak! Easy to predict! And also risky, less consistent!

So you need to learn the purpose of your serve. Learn to add spin to control the placement. And think about the “set-up serve”. Also, try to add deceptive spin or speed in your serve.

How to make a deceptive serve?

To make your serve more deceptive, you need to change the contact point but keep the same serve motion.

With the same motion, but now you change the contact point, you can change the spin of your serve. In the real match, if you want to serve a less spin, floating serve, you contact the ball near the handle of the racket.

Contact at the (1,2) or (2,2) position will make a no-spin, floating serve no matter what your serving motion.

This no-spin serve is very effective because the opponent will push the ball high, so you can easily attack this ball.


Contact the ball at this position, you will have a long and fast serve.

position for fast long serve
position for fast long serve

But with the same gesture, now you contact the ball at this position then you will have a no-spin serve.

position for no-spin floating serve
position for no-spin floating serve

Top Chinese player often contacts the ball near the head of the racket to maximize spin. They always add “side-spin” to their serves.

Contact point for the forehand pendulum serve of a young chinese player
Here is the contact point for the forehand pendulum serve of a young Chinese player

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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