If you asked high-level players the most critical shot in the game of table tennis, most of them would suggest it is the serve.
However, serve is probably one of the most neglected shots for low-level table tennis players since these players more likely to use their rallying skills in training.
Now, why is the serve so crucial in table tennis? There are many reasons why, but the first is regarding the control. Serve is the only stroke that a player can make with him having total control of the ball. Players who practice serving can control the ball without those influences or interference from opponents.
With this, a player will be able to do whatever he wishes regarding the ball. It leads to the second importance, which is the setup. If a player can control the ball, he will be provided with a good setup.
He will be able to predict the return of the ball and play his ball patterns. With serve, you will be able to have a fantastic advantage at the starting point.
But, serve has eventually evolved through time. Tennis players of today know many advanced serves that will give them the ultimate advantage in the game proper.
There are many types of these advanced serves. To become truly proficient in these advanced services, you need to ensure your table tennis grip, master the 4 basic table tennis strokes, and the essential table tennis serve.
One of these advanced serves is the pendulum serve because of the serving movement. The table tennis bat’s movement resembles the motion that the weight on a pendulum moves back and forth. It is quite similar to the action of the pendulum in a grandfather clock.
Though many people demonstrate the pendulum serve differently from one another, this serve is typically done from the server’s backhand corner. It is because the type of sidespin tends to make the return go straight towards the backhand of the server.
In doing this, many servers take a step to the left and strike a controlling forehand attack that will come from their backhand corner. The sidespin is used because it helps the server control the possible ball return.
The sidespin also makes it more difficult for the receiver to identify the amount of backspin on the ball. It is because the ball possesses combinations of sidespins and backspins.
When it comes to the freehand, it is just stationary and flat. Mostly it’s over the playing surface and also at the back of the end line. The bottom 3 fingers of the hand used to hold the racket should be loose. It will allow the bat to move freely during the serve.
It is because the racket will be circled down and forwards. You don’t want to have an awkward racket motion during the serve. The loosened fingers also allow it to have more varieties during the ball spin.
It will give you more advantage as it becomes more difficult for the receiver to familiarize your technique.
However, this advanced serve, just like other advanced serves, needs total practice. As mentioned above, you need to ensure that you have an excellent table tennis grip. The combinations and variations of sidespin and backspin are challenging to master. It would help if you also learned your placement and positions to have more control of the ball.
Reverse Pendulum Serve
Another popular advance serve nowadays is a reverse pendulum. The reverse pendulum serve is heavily used by famous table tennis stars, such as Timo Boll, Zhang Jike, etc. The way to brush the ball is pretty much like the pendulum serve but in the opposite direction.
Originally this serve is for sidespin and topspin by brushing the side and top of the balls, but the players can adapt to backspin by brushing underneath the ball.
To sum it all up, pendulum serves and reverse pendulum serve, and many advanced players use advanced serves. This type of serve begins with the bat positioned away from the body and includes a topspin and sidespin on the ball.
This type of advanced serve can help a player outwit his or her opponent. This serve can mislead an opponent by suggesting that a player will do a different kind of serve. The position can present that a player will do a backspin, but in fact, he is aiming to do topspin.
Advanced Backhand Sidespin Serves
- Standing on the side opposite to your serving hand, hold the racket in front of you so that you are prepared to hit the ball with a backhand, and place the ball on top of your other hand in front of the racket.
- Turn your body, bring the racket back until you cross over your other arm, and then toss the ball gently into the air to about eye level.
- Bring the racket back the way it came by unbending your elbow in a semi-circle but at a quicker speed to hit the ball.
- Have the racket tilted slightly towards you as you let it slice through the air downwards and hit the ball just above the table and at the tip of the racket to give it a good graze for a better spin.
- Allow your arm to complete its swing and then return to your ready stance.
Advanced Forehand Pendulum Serve I
- Stand slightly angled away from the table in the direction of your serving hand.
- Place the ball in the palm of your hand in front of the racket, which should be held parallel to the table.
- Keep the arm and wrist relaxed so it can move freely.
- Turn your upper body backward, bring your racket away from your body with your elbow and wrist and then toss the ball gently into the air to about eye level.
- As the ball falls, move your upper body, along with your arm and racket, forward in a semi-circle pattern.
- Hit the ball near the table on its side as you slice through the air with the racket almost always parallel to the table.
- For a sidespin/topspin, hit the back of the ball when your racket moves up
- For a backspin/sidespin, hit the bottom of the ball as your racket moves down
- Snap wrist as for a better graze, especially near the tip.
- Pull racket through to another side of the body, either down or to the side, to trick your opponent.
- Then return to your ready stance.
Advanced Forehand Pendulum Serve II
- Stand at a right angle to the edge of the table.
- Hold the racket up near your head, higher than the hand where the ball is lying in.
- Keep your arm and wrist relaxed.
- Toss the ball gently into the air, and then swing your racket towards it.
- Graze the side of the ball when moving forward.
- The racket should be near the table at the end of the swing.
How to Serve and Confuse Your Opponent All at Once
If you are a new player in the world of table tennis, then you could probably use a few pointers to help you better your game. Even if you consider yourself an advanced player and have played the game for years, a little advice would never hurt you either.
There are many tips and tricks to improve your table tennis skills, but one of the more essential skill sets to work on is your table tennis serve spin. Most players who are new to the game serve the ball flat, and it usually has minimal, if any, deliberate spin.
More advanced players will serve the ball with an intentional spin placed on the ball that makes it curve and changes how it bounces.
If done correctly and with enough force behind it, the ball should curve down and then quickly skip forward once it comes into contact with the table. It will work even better if the ball comes down and lands close to the end on your opponent’s side of the table.
Another type of serve spin is the side-spin serve. With this serve, you will take the racket in front of your body to make the ball spin. If you are serving right-handed and using a forehand serve, then the ball will spin clockwise if viewed from the top.
The final type of table tennis serve spin is a backspin serve, also called an under-spin serve. It is ideal for attacking players, especially less experienced players.
Having a heavy backspin increase the chance it will be a lost point for your opponent, as it will be tough to return this type of serve. Finally, if you want to confuse your opponent, mix up your serves with some that have no spin at all.
Table Tennis Serve Tips That You Can Refer To
When you are serving, it’s probably the only time you have complete control of the ball. Use the following tips to improve your game and table tennis serve. This post looks at why the two areas I mentioned are so important to target.
Long and to the corners:
The main point here is to serve the ball deep into the corners of the table. Those areas are much more challenging for your opponents to get strong shots. If you consistently play deep, you will notice that the opponent needs to stretch to return the ball.
Short and over the net
It is probably the best area to serve, and so do professionals 80% of the time, with a long serve thrown in from time to time to surprise the opponent. This area is so effective because it makes it harder for your opponent to generate any swings on their shots. So if they can’t hit the ball hard, you will be in a better position to return the ball more effectively. Be sure to vary how you serve the ball with backspin, which will force your opponent to lift the ball up. Nice!
3 Things You Need To Do Now:
– Practice long enough to master each serve on each area (download the file if you want to know what areas I’m talking about)
– Record your attainment using the mind map file
– Always push yourself to improve on your next session of table tennis
Use Mind Mapping To Improve Your Serves
You need to understand that everything requires time, persistence, and the mind’s strength to achieve success. It doesn’t matter if you are ambitious to be the world’s top table tennis player or an abundant person.
The essential factor is that regardless of what you want to achieve, you need to develop a workable and systematic way to reach your goal. One of the practical approaches would be mind mapping.
The mind mapping idea comes from a book named “Think and Grow Rich,” written by Napoleon Hill. The book covered many great points, and it is available on the step-by-step list and things you need to implement to reach the path of success. Even though the book talks on the subject of wealth, it can apply to any field.
How To Implement Mind Mapping in Table Tennis?
Before you implement mind mapping, you will need to determine your objectives and desired goals in a more particular way. In a typical scenario, when you practice your table tennis on a court, you most likely pay attention to all the instructions given by your coach.
However, if you didn’t digest or comprehend what your coach tells you, your skill will not get much improvement. It is time for mind mapping to come into play. You need to keep track of how you’re progressing on paper.
Even though some people tend not to agree with this approach and they think these are coach’s responsibility to tell you what to do, but if you keep track by yourself, you will have a clearer picture of where you should improve as you are the one who knows yourself the best.
I would recommend you do mind mapping, which is a very effective way of keeping track of your table tennis progress. I use it myself a lot to brainstorm ideas about projects, make a to-do list, etc. Mind mapping is a neat way of having something visual in front of you, so you know your focus and what you are trying to achieve.
5 Ways of using mind-mapping effectively
1. Read your goals before going to your training session and repeat them to yourself during your training sessions.
2. Say to yourself what you are going to do today and how you will achieve them.
3. For each goal, read them in the present tense.
4. Say to yourself what you will achieve by the end of your training session.
5. Praise yourself when you have completed a goal. Example: I can do x. I am so happy……
The above list might seem weird, to say the least, because it’s not something you would do every day. However, it has a purpose and an important one. It motivates you and keeps you on track. Try it for yourself and see the difference. I have used them with great success for a lot of things, so if it works for me, it should work for you too.
Using the tracking sheets
Ok, so assuming that you have downloaded my mind map for serve placement, how do you go about using it?
- Identify which serve placement you are going to work on today.
- Practice them according to the mind map diagram.
- Record on the table under “session 1″ how well you can perform the serve placement in question. For example, if I feel I need to practice it more for my next session, I could write, “Need to place the ball closer to the table corner”. If you are training with a coach, write his/her advice down too.
Stamping on Serve Rule
Some ping pong players wonder if anyone knows the official rule regarding whether it is legal to stamp as part of their service action? They thought it was legal but got asked not to stamp by their opponent in some tournament. Thus, they are keen to find out the answer and want to get a copy of the actual rule about this.
Stamping on Serve is The Grey Area in This Sport
Frankly, there is absolutely no rule against stamping on serve. It was discussed a while ago, and a new rule was proposed, but nothing ever came of it.
I had someone call a let and give me a warning for stamping during a serve. The person was adamant that the rules said no stamping, and I took the high ground and made sure they knew there was no such rule.
The let call disrupted an essential point for me, so I wasn’t thrilled! The same thing happened to me in a match last night, and I had to make sure I didn’t stamp for the rest of the game. Not good!
But as I know, no rule goes against stamping during your service! In the earlier days, players used to stamp on their services, so as I block the sound made from the service, it was easy to make out the spin with the sound!
Stamping can help you ensure correct body transfer when serving. There is no rule against it, although many players find it annoying because you can cover the sound of contact when serving. Just another “gray” zone in table tennis, if you ask me…
I have friends complaining about this also. Some domestic and club level officials don’t acknowledge the rules or mend them. The stamping issue is a common problem. Again, confusion arises on whether a player can cross to the other side of the court to hit a back swingball.
Some people would want to mimic the reverse pendulum serve of Zhang Jike but failed to do so. Most of them can’t make a spin of it. If you would love to learn such difficult serve, you may refer to the video here:
Besides, I have found something interesting…..Do you know Werner Schlager? I found an old video of him serving. Just skip some parts, then you will see the serve of Zhang Jike, a bit different, but it’s almost the same. Here is the video
The rules of service are, in theory at least, obvious. With so many different techniques emerging at different levels, it is often difficult to distinguish between what is legal and what is not. For all the budding umpires, here’s a list of the ITTF regulations on service:
We all know rules are rules, but is it necessary to enforce such tight restrictions on a beginner, for example? Probably not–in a casual local league, the majority of services are illegal in some way, and the idea of pulling someone up for poor serving is unheard of; it would be considered unsporting to claim points or bawl at the uninformed umpire simply because of a ‘technicality.’
The crux of the question is at which point we begin to punish faulty services–at the local level? County? National? Young players mustn’t make a habit of foul-serving, but we don’t want to put them off with a controversial point deduction at deuce in the fifth in a friendly club competition!
Another factor to consider is how strict to be–there is an apparent grey area in the rules. For example, it says, “project the ball near vertically upwards”; indeed, each umpire will have their ideas about what “near vertically upwards” is. You could say it’s the same in any sport, though, at some point, an unclear event has to be judged by the arbiter. There’s bound to be some controversy!
If we look at the top level, many world-ranked players are bending the rules in some fashion. London 2012 saw a much stricter stance regarding service, but this ended in controversy as Ding Ning has deducted two points for an illegal toss-up, which led to much criticism of the umpire.
The usually textbook Timo Boll was pulled up twice in one match for an inaccurate technique, while Wang Hao seemed to be the worst of the lot and managed to escape unpunished.
Whether the umpires decide to become stricter or more relaxed, the important thing is consistency. Of course, it is difficult as each player tends to have a separate service action, but the degree to which the officiators will nit-pick needs to be made clear.
Check out for more related post on table tennis serves: