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Best Table Tennis Serves a Beginners Guide

Without a reliable and efficient serve one has no chance to win a match if the counterpart is experienced and skilled enough to serve with a few simple tricks.

Without a reliable and efficient serve one has no chance to win a match if the counterpart is experienced and skilled enough to serve with a few simple tricks.

I have played active table tennis for many years in team and played lots of tournaments. I learned the hard way what it means to be exposed to good serve tricks.
Here I want to share some of my experience and give some tips for beginners how to improve your table tennis serve especially with controlled and strong spin.

After the rules have been explained in a video the basic services and their tactic variations are explained. The text is followed by selected video examples that show how the rackets has to be moved in order to achieve proper spin.

Contents at a glance

  1. Basic tactics for an efficient serve in…
  2. Serving rules in table tennis
  3. The use of spin in table tennis serve
  4. Combined back and side spin in table ten…
  5. A combined spin backhand serve in table…
  6. Table tennis rubber sheet cleaning foam
  7. How to hit a top spin table tennis serve
  8. Sidespin table tennis service with a op…
  9. Learn to play table tennis – materials

Basic tactics for an efficient serve in table tennis

1. Attack tactic
The purpose of a strong serve in table tennis is to force the opponent to a fault return at best. If that is not possible the serve should be strong enough to cause a weak defensive return by the opponent that allows you to place an successful attack immediately.

2. Defense tactic
If your opponent is a very strong player your serve might be defensive trying not to expose yourself to an attack from the opponent.

The use of spin in table tennis serve

Without or very little spin you might face a heavy counterstrike immediately. A serve without spin is an invitation to a smash for the opponent.
Therefore in tournaments you won’t see anyone serving without spin.

To apply spin on a table tennis ball means to put the ball into rotation with the racket. A spinning ball takes another less easy to anticipate way through the air before it touches down on the table tennis. After touch down depending on the force and direction of the initial spin the ball will bounce also much differently than it does after a simple push without extra rotation of the racket.

In services backspin or under spin and side spin are the most effective. Top spin techniques in serving can be successful if your opponent is inexperienced, easy to surprise and has no smash technique.

1. Top spin service
I consider this type of service mainly a training serve to make it easy for the sparring partner/opponent to return the ball preferably for training in top spin attack techniques.

A top spin serve can be useful in a match when a lot of spin is given to the ball and the ball is played hard and fast. If you can surprise the opponent with a precise top spin serve that touches the opponent’s field at the very limits of the table it can be possible to force the opponent into a fault return.

2. Backspin serve
The backspin serve is a defence serve. The stronger the spin the more the ball has the tendency to jump back into direction of the server. Also the ball does not jump very high, the serve is very flat and as long as the under spin serve is short behind the net the opponent will have no chance to attack. In fact he will be forced to a very careful return in order to “lift” the ball over the net again as the backspin will drive the ball into the net of if the opponent does not compensate for the backspin in his push.

3. Sidespin serve
Side spin in serve is great because it is very difficult to return. The purpose of the side spin is to drive the return outside the table either to the left or the right. If the server brushes the ball with his racket to the right side (viewed from the server) the ball will tend to jump to the left side of the opponent (left side viewed from the opponent).
You can also place a sidespin serve in a way that the opponent is likey to return the ball onto your strong forehand side so you might be able to place a smash or start an attack with top spin balls.

Combinded spin in table tennis serves
Most professional table tennis serves combine side and backspin. This is achieved by moving the racket sideward and downwards at the same time. Mostly a movement of the wrist will support and accelerate the twist of the racket with a culmination as it hits the ball.
Such services are very tricky as the trajectory of the ball can be curved a lot and becomes difficult to anticipate.

A combined spin backhand serve in table tennis explained

A talented young man explains a backhand serve with side and backspin . The basic movement of the racket is explained very well.

However to me it seems that the serve as such is not 100% ok as the ball is hit very quickly in a too low height from the table (see rules above). I also would correct the movement of the arm. The wide swing of the arm after the ball has been hit seems unnecessary from my point of view. Instead I would try to increase the spin by starting the movement of the racket from a further left point viewed from the server.

This serve can be used in various modifications either to force the opponent to a fault by loosing the ball outside of the table or by forcing the opponent to return on your strong forehand side making a smash or a forehand topspin attack possible.

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