Seeing the service contact point

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 1 week ago

Colin Smith

Colin Smith Asked 3 weeks ago

Do you have any hints for detecting the strike point on the bat of your opponents serve? As a relatively new player, I find it hard to see the contact point to determine the spin.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 1 week ago

Hi Colin,

Seeing the contact point during your opponent's serve can be challenging, especially for newer players. Here are some tips to help you detect the contact point and determine the spin on the ball:

Train your eyes to focus on the ball from the moment your opponent begins their serving motion. The more you practice this, the better you'll get at picking up subtle cues.

Often, the shoulder and forearm action can give away the type of spin. For example, a pendulum serve's side spin is generated through forearm and wrist movement.

Observe the angle of the opponent's bat at contact. The way the bat is angled will often indicate the type of spin imparted on the ball.

After the ball has been struck, the initial trajectory can give clues about the spin. A topspin serve will cause the ball to dip, while backspin will make the ball float slightly.

Have a coach serve to you while calling out the spin type, so you can learn to associate the contact point visuals with the resulting spin. If a coach isn't available, some modern table tennis robots can be programmed to provide different spins for you to practice against.

If possible, film the serves in slow motion to study the contact point more closely. This can provide great feedback and help you learn what to look for in real-time.

The sound of the ball contact can also give away the type of spin.  A softer sound means the ball isn't sinking all the way into the wood and the server is getting brushing contact with more spin.

Remember, learning to read spin takes time and practice. Don't be too hard on yourself if it doesn't come immediately. Keep working on these skills, and over time, your ability to read serves will improve significantly.

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