How to Execute the Ma Lin Serve

Table Tennis Serving

Last updated 3 weeks ago

Gaurav Simha

Gaurav Simha Asked 8 years ago

In a video, Ma Lin is shown practicing a serve in which the ball rolls back towards the net after delivering a pendulum serve. I've been trying to execute this serve for a very long time, but it never rolls back. So can somebody please help me ? I really wanna learn this..


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Gaurav,

The idea is to have a lot of backspin and not much forward momentum on the ball.

The brushing action should be right under the ball and even coming under and up the front face of the ball a little. 

You can practice getting the contact correct away from the table.  Just find a piece of floor and see if you can get the ball to come back to you on the floor.  Once you feel comfortable doing this then you can step up to the table and give it a try.

Here are two videos to help you:

Ma Lin Ghost Serve

Ma Lin Ghost Serve Bat Angle


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Gaurav Simha

Gaurav Simha Posted 8 years ago

thank you !

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Here is the video the question talks about.

Gaurav Simha

Gaurav Simha Posted 8 years ago

yeah the very same one i was talking about.

Ian Costello

Ian Costello Posted 8 years ago

Hi,

When I toss the ball high @ hit the ball, the ball soars over the net @ never hits my side of the table,@ the serve tends to not have enough spin.

Please help!                                          @THX 


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Hi Ian,

As Alois suggests in the video, try practicing this away from the table so you don't have that restriction. It does take a lot of practice to get the right contact. Especially when you throw the ball high as it comes down pretty fast. Once you start to get some good brushing contact away from the table, then you can come back and try it out on the table.

So keep practicing! That's the best advice I can give. 


Oliver

Oliver Posted 8 years ago

Whenever I do it, it seems to go high. Although it does spin back I still have a feeling someone will smash it back someday. Is there somethin u can do to help?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Use a string across the top of the net, about 10 cm above it and aim to get the serve below the string.  Take a look at the lesson on Keeping The Ball Low


Oliver

Oliver Posted 8 years ago

thx


Oliver

Oliver Posted 8 years ago

although i kinda meant about 4-5cm, not so much 10

YK Wong

YK Wong Posted 8 years ago

Thanks a lot for clear explanation & demonstration! Let's keep practising!

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Oliver,

You can adjust the string height if you want.  This will be a good indication of how high the ball is going. 


Chris McDade

Chris McDade Posted 8 years ago

This is a very nice demonstration of a heavy back-spin serve. It is a great opportunity to employ the "third-ball attack." That is, a serve with a great deal of back-spin will often produce a "chop return" or push by your opponent. This allows you to loop your third ball for an aggressive attack. However, it may be difficult to disguise your serve. This requires some practice and deft serving skills. Nevertheless, it is a great technique to learn and acquire in your service repertoire.

andrew brand

andrew brand Posted 8 years ago

Alois, ive been having a go at this serve today, i find the only way i can get the ball coming back is by using a very compact stroke, mainly wrist and a bit of forearm. when i try to rip into it with more arm i cant keep it low.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Andrew for all of your serves you should mainly use wrist.  The forearm won't come through too much eventually.  The wrist is the most vital part of the action.  The next most important is the forearm and you should almost keep the upper arm still.

Gaurav Simha

Gaurav Simha Posted 8 years ago

@Alois Rosario: Isn't that style of serve in your video against the rules of the ITTF ? Because, while serving you partially block the vision of your opponent with body in front of ball & about the nature of spin of the ball.

Claus Hamacher

Claus Hamacher Posted 8 years ago

The execution is perfectly visible. Nothing is blocked.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

I do try.  Having only played in the era of the hidden serve I do sometimes lapse into old bad habits.

AbdurRehman Malik

AbdurRehman Malik Posted 8 years ago

Hi! 

I'd like to thank you guys... you realy help me out a lot. thisvideo of yours is the most helpful for learning the ma lin serve  i've found on the net cause it gives very clear instructions ....thnx a lot


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

No problems.  Glad to be able to help you.

Ian Costello

Ian Costello Posted 8 years ago

Does It take time to get a spinny contact?

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

It certainly does take practice to get a nice spinny contact. As explained you need a fast brushing contact. It is the combination of these 2 factors that make it difficult. As you are moving your bat fast, it is hard to get a fine brushing contact. However with practice it will come.

Varun Chaturvedi

Varun Chaturvedi Posted 7 years ago

At what point of the i should make the contact of the ball?

 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Contact can be in the middle of the swing.


Gaurav Simha

Gaurav Simha Posted 7 years ago

I get the serve best when the ball is in contact with the racket at the time just when it's starting to ascend as a part of the swing. I don't know if the rubber matters, but i rarely get it in the middle of the swing as alois suggests. 


Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 7 years ago

This serve is very deadly when used correctly but very hard to do. I can get the ball to backspin and go sideways 70% of the time, but not to come back as yet. This is because this serve is very hard to do. My advice to others trying this serve is watch video clips on this serve over and over. Also watch clips of the master Ma lin doing the seve over and over. If you have a coach practice with him too.

Then practice this shot 24/7 untill you feel comfortable enough to do it in practice sessions-games. Then use it in matches only when you feel confident-comfortable enough to use it in a match. Here is a train of thought the great golfer Nick Faldo said when making a golf swing change practice 24/7 and don't go in any major golf comps for a while.

The reason for this is when you feel uncomfortable with theese changes you will play poorly at first and this will demorilise you mentaly because you don't see the results at first. So i think this is good advice for table tennis too. Check with Jeff and Alois on this matter see what they think, there the pros not me. For me though i my coments are good advice. For me anyway and maybe it will work for you too.

 


Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 7 years ago

When I try this, the ball keeps drifting off to the side. sometimes, it comes back to me but mostly it comes back sideways. Why is this?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Esteban,

You are brushing the ball a little on the side.  This will result in sidespin.  It is difficult to feel this.  The best thing is to get a video and then watch yourself doing it so that you get a proper feel for what is happening.


Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 7 years ago

You're right. It turned out my bat was slightly tilted and that's why I produced this unwanted result. thanks a bunch!


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

No problem Esteban.  Glad you have worked it out.


Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 7 years ago

I can get this serve to go side ways 60-70% of the time but still can not get it to roll back to the net. It is a very hard serve to do. I don't know why my ball will not come back. Ma Lin makes this serve look easy when he is doing but then again he practices 24-7 and has great skills.

Just keep practicing the Ma Lin serve over and over. Any thoughts Master Alois.?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

You need to get the bat flatter with the end of the bat higher.  Then think about the brushing contact only to start with.  If you can get the brushing action you will get it to come back towards you.  Step away from the table and see if you can get this to happen on the floor first.


Danish Ali

Danish Ali Posted 7 years ago

Hi Alois when i try to do "malin serve"it dosent hits my opponents side it returns to me after hitting my side of table...please help me


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Danish,

Hit the ball more forward with a slightly flatter contact.  It is great that you are able to get the ball to spin back so well.


Danish Ali

Danish Ali Posted 7 years ago

Thanks for the advise but when i hit the ball with flatter contact it wont returns like original serve after hitting the other side

 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

It is a fine balance.  It is a matter of getting the right amount of contact to get the serve just right.  Keep experimenting.


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 7 years ago

This serve is the most difficult serve for me to execute it

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 7 years ago

Anyway, i have some problomes with this serve that i want to ask first, does rubber important for this stroke ? What I use is wakaba 60 bat with butterfly addoy rubber, the second one is a custom bat with yasaka mark V rubber. I've tried with that two rubbers but i still can't generate a lot of spin second, you said to swing it fast, but what happen to me is the ball is long even with a lot of backspin the last is, what's the start and the finish position to make it (there're many ways to do it but for sure i want to ask which one is the best) and also, how high the ball when we brush it, is it higher than the net, the same, or lower ? And also how long our position to do it, is it near the table or a bit backward ? My problome is when I do it, the is not come back but it still bounce twice and not fall but sometimes the ball goes to the net and sometimes I late to swing my bat so the ball is fall down (the time) please for the answer :D thank you.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

This takes time to get right.  The main thing is to get the brushing contact right first.


Danish Ali

Danish Ali Posted 7 years ago

Thanks Alois


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 7 years ago

I often practicing this serve and it seems i've brushing it at the right contact most of the time but, it still can't move back as i do it away from the table, the ball can move back but not as much as what you do... So, what's the next thing should i do ?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

More practice...


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 7 years ago

Okay ! I'll do my best and thank you for all !

Sam Evans

Sam Evans Posted 7 years ago

Hi Alois

I was just wondering how effective this serve is in a match as I still cannot consistantly perform the serve with a small amount of spin, let alone to the extent of spin that you can. I need a lot of practice, so I was wondering if that serve is worth the practice time that could  be used developing other areas of my game?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Sam,

Trying to make the ball come back to you is not really what you should practice.  Think about trying to keep the ball short and low with backspin.  This is important to be able to gain the initiative in the rally.  That is worth practising.


Sam Evans

Sam Evans Posted 7 years ago

Thankyou,

I have both pendulum and reverse pendulum backspin serves which I can get quite a lot of spin on; am I better off developing these or working on the ma Lin serve which currently I can get lower and closer to the net, with inconsistencies?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

I would keep working on all of the 3 serves.  Use the Pendulum and Reverse Pendulum mainly but develop the straight backspin serve as well.


Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 7 years ago

Keep practicing everyone Alois is right more practice. Don't worry I have trouble too just like you friendly Halim. I just keep practicing this serve. Also I watch my serving secrets dvd that Alois and Jeff did. It was one of the best sporting instructional dvds I have ever brought.


Tmoney Tlarz09

Tmoney Tlarz09 Posted 7 years ago

Hey is there a correct technique when using the pendulum serve and hit the opposite corner of the table on the opponents side closes to you while adding side spin and bouncing directly away from the table making your opponent have to go to the side of the table to return it sorry if this question is hard to understand. Thanks 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

This is a matter of changing the angle of your body to start with or the angle of your swing.  Try putting a target on the table where you want it to land and practice aiming for it.  That is a simple but effective way of getting the ball where you want it.


atharva sakharkar

atharva sakharkar Posted 6 years ago

Hi alois I can get the spin back on the ground bt when I try on the table the ball doesn't go above the table it just remains very low nd hits the net pls help me


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Hi Atharva,

Try hitting the ball from a little higher.  Give the ball a bit more air.  Hope this helps.


gabe yap

gabe yap Posted 6 years ago

Dear Pingskills,

where is your table tennis club. Is there any chance I can join.

 


gabe yap

gabe yap Posted 6 years ago

Dear Pingskills,

where is your table tennis club. Is there any chance I can join.

 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Hi Gabe,

We do all our coaching online.  We live in Melbourne, Australia.


sami feras

sami feras Posted 6 years ago

do you need to throw the ball high


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Hi Sami,

No you don't. You can still get the ball to stop and come back if you tilt your bat back a bit further and slow the speed of the ball down.


Ayesha Noon

Ayesha Noon Posted 6 years ago

This video actually helped me with the regular backspin serve.

Thanks! ;-)


izz izz

izz izz Posted 6 years ago

I tried to do it many times but i can't do it


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

What is your bat like Izz?


Ashish Desai

Ashish Desai Posted 6 years ago

I tried to do the back spin too I can't do it


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Persevere Ashish.  Make sure you are brushing right under the ball and that your bat has plenty of grip on it.


D K

D K Posted 5 years ago

This is one of the most difficult serves I have ever seen.

I have tried it countless times,but the ball is spinless and low,or has a chop like hell on it,but is high enough even for me to smash it.

But when I practise it out of the tabel,it is quite succesful: it does not bounce so much and returns to me even on the carpet.

But when I try it at the table,it simply does not work


Nigel Fewster

Nigel Fewster Posted 5 years ago

D K try videoing yourself doing the serve or get some one to do it then play it back and compare it with Alois's video, you should be able to see a difference and that is the bit you need to correct.


D K

D K Posted 5 years ago

The main difference I can see is that when Alois did the off-table training when he lets the ball return to him on the floor-

His bounce is about 30 cm above the bat.

My bounce is more than twice as high.

But when I make it with less power,it has no spin.

What can cause it :( ?


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 5 years ago

Hi DK,

This will be because of the flooring. Where this video is filmed the floor is covered with Taraflex which is a kind of mat flooring. If you are playing on a wooden ball it will bounce a lot higher. It's not something to worry about, you can still keep practicing as you are.


Nigel Fewster

Nigel Fewster Posted 5 years ago

D K try this, when you hold the racket make sure you have a very loose grip on it and I mean loose it should nearly wobble in your hand. I suspect that you are holding the bat handle far too tight and instead of the racket cushioning the ball as it goes under it you are causing the rubbers to throw the ball back high. This high bounce would also be caused by using a very fast blade with very fast rubbers in which case even looser is the answer.


D K

D K Posted 5 years ago

Hello

Jeff:I did not talk about the bounce of the floor but the bounce of the bat.

With a power similar to Alois' the ball goes above my head

Nigel: You are probably right that my bat (Blade: Yinhe T-9 Balsa-Carbon and FH rubber: Rakza7Soft Max sponge) is quite fast.

I will try to not hold it so tight

Thanks both of you


Ilia Minkin

Ilia Minkin Posted 5 years ago

It is hard to see on the video, but is the bat actually moving slightly upwards? When I brush the ball really upwards, I can make to to stop still on the table, but can't make it come back :(


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 5 years ago

Hi Ilia,

You can get the bat to even go a little upwards. Another key is the contact on the ball.  If you get the contact closer to the front of the bat then you will find you will get a little more backspin.


D K

D K Posted 5 years ago

I know it is a matter of technique,but...what adjustments do I have to get the Ma Lin serve with enormously slow bat ?

(slow compared to his own,as he has a very fast bat)

 

And also-your serve does not seem to have really much momentum.
But in the video where Ma Lin himself performs this serve ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8advrudYZs ),it seems like to have a quite lot of momentum,momentum similar to my own topspin serve.
He seems to be overpowering a momentum with more enormous spin.

So where is the difference?


Romeo Chua

Romeo Chua Posted 5 years ago

Ma Lin has excellent touch, that is why he is able to put enough spin on the ball to make it bounce back to him despite his forward momentum


D K

D K Posted 5 years ago

So it should be easier with a slower bat?

 


Gary List

Gary List Posted 3 years ago

I'd love to learn this little number. I've tried but it's tricky. I find I make many mistakes, so refrain from. Using it. Practice practice practice me thinks!!!


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

Yes practice me thinks too...

Really focus on the tilt of your racket... turn it further back than you think you need to...


Rafael Paynor

Rafael Paynor Posted 3 years ago

Alois Rosario how can I do the Ma Lin's serve?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

See the video above. Then practice it focusing on the contact point in particular.


Justin Dean

Justin Dean Posted 3 years ago

Another great video ! 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

Thanks Justin.


Halina Kaman

Halina Kaman Posted 3 years ago

I find it great ! Perfect explanation! I will try to  practice this serve too...

Thanks Alois


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

Great to hear Halina.


Anthony Portillo

Anthony Portillo Posted 3 years ago

I'll try to practice and master this serve...

Thank you Alois,


toby kim

toby kim Posted 3 weeks ago

Thanks for the video, the ball now comes back to the net faster than when Ma Lin did it.


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 weeks ago

Ha, I like it!



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