My Technique for Handling Serves

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 8 years ago

Abhinav Upadhyay

Abhinav Upadhyay Asked 8 years ago

Hi Alois and Jeff,

As you know, I play a lot of doubles in my office. Over the last one year, since I have started playing table tennis, I have developed a technique for handling serves and I would like to know your thoughts on that. Being a left handed, I stand behind my backhand corner, in a slightly side on position. Any serve which is slightly long and on my left hand side, I try to play forehand topspin, which if connected properly, wins us the point (in most cases). If the serve is long and on my right hand side, I try to play a counter hit (the backhand topspin is still not there), this is a weak area for me and I need to develop here. 

However, if the serve is short or medium length, I take a step forward and try to receive it right after it bounce on my side. This doesn't allow the ball to take much spin and gives me control. I don't have much confidence in my forehand push, so instead I mostly try to flick the ball back. Because the ball is slow and I am taking it right after its bounce, there is not enough pace on it to make a winning shot. Therefore, my flicks are not what you teach in your lessons, instead, I am pushing the ball back by lifting the ball and rolling my wrist over it (if it is a backspin) or by simply blocking it (if it is a topspin). If I have enough control, I can drop the ball near the net or I can push it deep as well. However, if I misjudge the spin on the ball, it goes high on the other side and allows the other player to make a winning shot. But at least, with this technique, I have been able to return about 70-80% of serves, which I consider a great improvement in my game. 

What are your thoughts?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Abhinav,

Sounds like you are doing most things right.

If you are going to flick on the beforehand, wait for the ball to get higher rather than taking it straight after the bounce.  This will allow you to hit through the ball more easily and generate more power.

The other thing is to think about a good fast long push with backspin.  If you use this as an option, it will make it more difficult for you opponent to know what you are doing.  This is preferable than trying to play short and putting the ball up high.  If you are confident with putting the ball short that is good, but if you are unsure, then pushing the ball long is a good option.


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Thoughts on this question

Abhinav Upadhyay

Abhinav Upadhyay Posted 8 years ago

Thanks for the feedback Alois. Yes, I think taking the ball on top of its bounce and making a more powerful stroke should be my next step. For the long fast push, I am not very confident with that shot but I think I need to spend sometime training it. 

Another question Alois. What should I do to develop the backhand topspin stroke? Whenever I try it, I end up playing a counterhit. Do I need to focus on brushing the ball more ? If so, should I try to brush the back of the ball or top of the ball? 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Hi Abhinav,

To develop you backhand topspin, just try to extend your counterhit.  Put a little more topspin on the ball each time by brushing it finer and finer.  I think brushing up the back of the ball is the easiest way.


Abhinav Upadhyay

Abhinav Upadhyay Posted 8 years ago

Thanks Alois. I will try it out on table. I have been confused by the use of wrist when playing backhand as well. In one of the videos on Youtube, a coach was saying that beginners should focus on their arm movement and keep the wrist position the same when learning to play the backhand. What is your take on that? 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

I think this is good advice to get consistency at first.



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