Difficult to return penhold hook serve

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 3 weeks ago

Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Asked 1 month ago

Hi Pingskills,

I'm finding it difficult to return my opponent's penhold sidespin hook serve.  He tends to serve it fast and long either straight to my backhand or to my wide forehand. When he serves it directly to my backhand, I try to return it with my backhand topspin but it mostly lands in the net. When he serves it to my wide forehand, I do a forehand topspin shot which usually results in the ball flying out near his forehand. What should I do to fix these problems? Thanks


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 1 month ago

Hi Gerard,

It sounds like he is generating a good amount of spin what the serve.  Perhaps he I getting some variation of spin as well.

I would try to watch the contact as carefully as possible and also learn each time you hit one of his serves back.  Perhaps the one he is hitting cross to your backhand tends to get more backspin.  If so think about brushing up more to lift the ball up.

The serve going to your forehand has a lot of sidespin which is dragging the ball across to his forehand.  To get the ball down to his backhand side open up your wrist.  If you think about opening up the wrist like opening a gate.  This will get the angle of your racket back to be able to get the ball down the line.


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Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Posted 1 month ago

Thanks, Alois. When you mean open up my wrist, does that mean making the FH side of my racket face more to my right-hand side (for a right-handed player)?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 1 month ago

Yes that is exactly right Gerard. 


Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Posted 1 month ago

Ok, I'll try that out tomorrow during training. I'm currently preparing for an inter-school tournament this Thursday so wish me luck :)


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 1 month ago

Great. Good  luck.  Let us know how you get on.


Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Posted 4 weeks ago

Hi again. Today in my training session, I was able to return a lot more of the balls sent to my backhand side whilst a got a few more back when my opponent served the ball fast to my far forehand. Overall, I can see that I have improved a little bit :) However, I also noticed that my opponent's strength is forehand flicking and topspinning to my wide forehand with a lot of sidespin and I find it difficult to get there in time to return the ball. I know that he gets a lot of sidespin as his penhold grip allows him to use more of his wrist.   How should I counter his strength for next time?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 4 weeks ago

Hi Gerard,

As you are finding it difficult to return his flick perhaps try returning the ball long with backspin.  You can also think about your placement.  Where is he flicking best from to be able to get the ball wide to your forehand?


Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Posted 3 weeks ago

UPDATE: Thank you Alois for the tips from this week. Today, I had my inter-school TT tournament and we were able to secure the intermediate, senior and ultimately, overall title for the school! I encountered many different types of serves today which was very beneficial as I could learn from them. 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 weeks ago

Well done Gerard. Great that you had three opportunity to see a whole lot of serves. 


Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Posted 3 weeks ago

Hi Alois,

In that same tournament, I encountered an interesting tactical problem. When I served a short backspin pendulum serve to my opponent's forehand, he moves in for the backhand flick and targets my elbow as I move back into my ready position. What should I do to fix this problem?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 weeks ago

You can try serving even wider to his forehand or you can serve more to the backhand side where he may not be as good with the flick. 


Gerard Tran

Gerard Tran Posted 3 weeks ago

Ok, thanks Alois. I probably won't meet this opponent again as the competition is being re-structured but it's good to know if I meet any other opponents who play like him. 



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