Judging and receiving services

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 8 years ago

mukund kakkar

mukund kakkar Asked 8 years ago


I play other strokes of the game fairly well but the major problem I have is judging and receiving services. I am not able to judge the service properly which leads the opponent having an advantage all the point. Please help!

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Mukund,

This is probably the hardest part of the game when you are starting.  It takes a while to get to a stage where you can be confident with being able to return different spins.

The first thing is to understand the effects of spin and then the principles of returning the spin.  We cover this in detail in our lessons on Receiving Secrets.

Notify me of updates
Add to Favourites
Back to Questions

Thoughts on this question

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 8 years ago

A player in our club is having a very hard time with this as well and he gets really discouraged because he's training a lot but losing all his matches due to bad returns (or that's what he says). So I have been training with him and I also observed a match of his. I'm observing two issues and I'm curious whether you are having the same issues:

  1. he dreads the return so much that he wants to get it over with quickly, so he's doing the opposite of what he should do: focus on it
  2. he doesn't really believe he can do it

So this is the first thing he/you needs to do: focus on it and believe you can do it. The next thing is how. There are three ways:

  1. look at what happens when the bat contacts the ball
    1. is the bat going up (topspin) or down (backspin) or purely sideways (sidespin)
    2. is there a lot of wrist action (lot of spin) or not (little spin)
    3. is the ball contacted with the tip of the blade (more spin) or the centre (less spin)
  2. look at the ball when it moves towards you
    1. does it seem to accelerate when contacting the table (topspin) or slow down (backspin) or float (no spin)
    2. can you discern the spin itself by looking at the ball?
  3. try to remember what the ball did and what the player did; few players can fully hide their spin; try to see patterns and remember them (for example: I tend to lift my elbow when topspinning)

It is hard but it gives you something to focus on. Try to do this for every ball and keep believing you can do it. When you have successfully returned a serve, try the same return if the serve looks the same. If it fails, try to see what changed.

Then of course you need to do something with this information. Close the bat for topspin, open it for backspin, or counter the backspin with even more topspin (see pingskills on "loop against backspin").

A special chapter can be devoted to sidespin.

  1. There is a basic way to deal with sidespin: send the ball to the middle of the table. There needs to be a tremendous amount of spin on it to make it go out.
  2. The more evolved way is to "send it back along the curve it came in with" or "send it to the side the opponent's bat started from" but this really needs a video.

Reading "how to" is no substitute for live experience. Go out in that jungle and try. Focus on it and believe you can do it.

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 8 years ago

Nice and helpful summary Dieter. Thanks.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 8 years ago

I spoke about this with the best player in our club and he doesn't do what I describe in 1:

He does NOT look at what motion the bat is making when it contacts the ball (upward, downward ...)

He looks at WHERE the bat contacts the ball: under its equator line, above it or at its side.

mukund kakkar

mukund kakkar Posted 8 years ago

Thank you Alois Sir and Dieter Verhosfstadt! Will definitely follow your  advice!

Dieter Verhofstadt

Become a free member to post a comment about this question.