Expect one, adjust to the other

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 5 years ago

Gary McAdams

Gary McAdams Asked 5 years ago

Do players at the top level expect a short serve and then adjust when the serve goes long, or vise-versa? They always seem to be able to receive short serves off the bounce.

I've found that the only way I'm able to receive a short serve off the bounce is if I'm looking for the serve to be short. If I don't do this, I'm unable to get to the ball until the top of the bounce, making it much harder to control a short receive. But this makes it hard to adjust to a long fast serve.

Additionally, most players at my level don't serve short, so I really won't have a lot of use for the skill of receiving short serve off the bounce until a few more level increases. How to approach this?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 5 years ago

Hi Gary,

I think the key is not expecting but watching that will give you the best chance to cover any serve that comes.

Try to focus carefully on the ball when it is in the servers hand.  From there you will get the best information as to whether they are going to serve short or long or anything in between.

Also make sure you practice your footwork for these movements.  The faster you can move to the different positions the quicker you will get to the bounce of the short ball or to the long serve as well.


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Thoughts on this question

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 5 years ago

I think in general it's better to prepare for a longer serve and then go forward if the serve is short, because the quality of your shot will generally be better when you execute it going forwards. If you're glued to the table, the serve goes long and you execute your return shot going backards, that usually results in a poor quality shot.



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