5 years ago
I was observing a reasonable player practising a few points the other night and made an interesting observation. 90% of their serves were to the bad areas. It occurred to me that a lot of people can really improve their serving by following the simple advice of serving to the good areas. Make sure that you serve the ball either short, so that it bounces twice on the table if left untouched, or very long and fast preferably to the corners. We call these the good areas.
Pick your favourite serve and grab 10 balls. Now try serve all 10 balls and count how many you are able to make bounce twice on your opponents side of the table. The trick here is to still be able to generate lots of spin whilst keeping the ball short. I don't want you to compromise on spin to make the ball short. The key is to have a brushing contact. The brushing contact will mean you can still swing the bat fast but the momentum will go into generating spin and not towards making the ball travel fast.
Here's a table to show you how well you did.
|0||Don't bother practising anything else until you can improve upon this score.|
|1 - 3||You need some serious practice. Repeat this test every time you play.|
|4 - 5||More practice is required but you're on the way.|
|6 - 8||Pretty good result, you're control is developing nicely but keep practising.|
|9||Impressive! Try and work on varying the spin and speed of your serve while keeping this control.|
|10||You've got this completely under control. The next thing is to develop subtle variations of spin to confuse your opponent.|
Yes this really does matter! I realised that part of the problem is your opponent. If you are playing an average opponent, they might not be able to take full advantage of your serves to the bad zone. If you are able to generate some good variation of spin, the serves might still seem effective. But as soon as you step up a level and face an opponent who can attack all of these serves to the bad zone, you are going to seriously struggle. This is why it is important to start serving to the good areas right from the start. And even if your opponent doesn't take advantage of a serve to the bad zones, they will struggle even more with a serve to the good areas.
The great thing about serving to the good areas is it will improve your results against all opponents immediately. Your opponent simply cannot play a full length stroke against a short ball. Also, by serving short your opponent will need to step in to receive the ball and if their footwork is not great you already have them slightly out of position for your next stroke. It also makes your long serves much more effective because your opponent must also get ready for the short ball.
Next time you play, make it a focus to serve the ball short around 80% of the time. Make sure you make your opponent move in to receive these short serves. Try it out and let me know how it goes. It sounds like a small change but it will make a big difference.
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