Which Serve is most effective

Table Tennis Discussion

Last updated 6 years ago

Chad M.

Chad M. Asked 10 years ago

In terms of amateur level play, which serve would you say helps you win the most games?  Which serve would you say is the most effective?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 10 years ago

Hi Chad,

This is interesting.  At a club level I think a serve with a lot of spin and perhaps speed will be most effective. I don't think any one type of serve in particular here just focus on a lot of spin.

I would be interested to hear players views that play at club level. 


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Gerardo Gomez

Gerardo Gomez Posted 9 years ago

Short-Backspin Serve.
It makes difficult for almost anyone to attack that type of serve.

But I think that the real KEY of serve is to have some variation. You need to always keep your opponent guessing what are you going to serve.

Good Luck!


Aaron San

Aaron San Posted 9 years ago

I'm a casual player, and what I find that works is to try and vary the serve. It's not one type of serve that will help you in your game, it's mixing it up so that your opponent gives weak returns. Generally, I use alot of bottom or bottome-side serves, coz their harder to attack.

I rarely give sidespin serves, coz they can be attacked fairly easily, unless they are very fast. However, I have a friend who can do a short and spinny sidespin serve, and because it's short and goes to my backk hand it's tricky to return

A short, no-spin serve is what I use if I plan  on doing a third ball attack coz, the ball will, hopefully, pop up high.


Orr Margalit

Orr Margalit Posted 9 years ago

i think that a short very wide serve with a lot of sidespin is most effective

because  the return come little high and you have all the other sude of the table to attack

 


Arnab Ghosh

Arnab Ghosh Posted 9 years ago

Pendulum serve with a lot of spin or speed, is a good serve. Maybe mix it up with an occasional down the line fast serve and I'd say its a good start for a successful rally.


Kevin Z

Kevin Z Posted 9 years ago

My backhand sidespin/topspin works best against amateurs. Hard to see if the sidespin is with topspin or backspin


Ji-Soo Woo

Ji-Soo Woo Posted 9 years ago

There are a lot of levels in amateur play as well.  When I was playing in div 4, not many people had much spin to speak of on their serve so any spin you can put will mess people up - regardless of length.  One player had a fairly spinny, long, sidespin with a touch of topspin serve which he would curl away from the receiver's backhand.  Most people were too terrified of the curve in flight that they never adjusted, even though he basically did the same serve over and over again.  He won the majority of his points on serve without ever having to hit a third ball!  In div 3, and more so in div 2, it is harder to win points outright with your serve...however, people still don't punish long serves - so the most effective serves still seem to be spinny long serves.  Main difference is that people DO adjust, so a bit of variation is handy.  The big step up is in div 1.  A lot of div 2 players who have killer serves and get promoted to div 1 suddenly find their serves under attack immediately because they are serving long.  In div 1, it is more about variety (speed, placement, spin) and deception more than about ripping the ball with maximum spin.


David Nguyen

David Nguyen Posted 9 years ago

Thanks Ji-Soo. I'm experiencing this at club level too, when I filled in at div 2,3 and 4 last year. 


Tim Stephens

Tim Stephens Posted 9 years ago

I have had great success with my heavy under-side to the forehand. When they start to get it over the net and on the table, I disguise a side-top. If they havn't thrown their racket yet, and learn my stuff, I dig in the bag for some more serves. :^)


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Sounds like a handy bag of tricks.


eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 9 years ago

Looks like Kevin C. and I have similar strategies of serves. Now I can add that the serve should be a set up for a 3rd ball attack by using 2nd bounce on the opponents board around the end line. If you make your opponent get use to heavy spin serves all the time, you can throw him out of control by faking a heavy side-underspin  short on his forehand by using the same backhand movement to his forehand while yo are really giving side-topspin. In any case keep your serves in a permanent variation of placement and speed. And always keep thinking of putting more "tricks in your bag". The serve is the only time when you legally have the ball in you hand.


Nabil Almahrami

Nabil Almahrami Posted 9 years ago

I think to keep variating your serve is good in two things: first, you will know which of your serves were effective on your opponent so that you will use it at last points to finish the game or recover from loss. Secondly, to confuse him and not let him expect what you will serve.


vineet kumar

vineet kumar Posted 9 years ago

serve with a lots of variation. :D


Marcus Anbau

Marcus Anbau Posted 9 years ago

I do most of the time a very short/low and heavy backspin/sidespin serve. Many, many players do have trouble to bring it even back over the net. If they eventually do I throw in a variation with topspin, I try to use very similar motion to fool them.

The better players who can return my serve allways say there is no way to attack that serve, they can only return it short into my forhand due to the heavy sidespin. I then keep it short to wait for their longer shot, push it long myself to open the really or if they reduced my spin I step around to use a backhand/sidespin flick. Later is hard to return for them if they didnt get fast enough back into ready position and are still somewhat close to the table. That last technique needs to be a winner or I am out of position.


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Sounds like a good simple principle MArcus.


Marcus Anbau

Marcus Anbau Posted 9 years ago

Yes I developed it after your advise about how important short pushes are. Many dont master it, eventually one push gets too long, thats the one I can attack.

 

As you stated it realyl lifts one to a new lvl of tabel tennis if one has a great short push. I trained about 3 months 9 hours weekly on a robot with a random excercise to have a pretty good short push. Not perfect yet, but maybe in 3 months:)

 

 


Tim Stephens

Tim Stephens Posted 9 years ago

Marcus, if you haven't already, you need to have a player that can perform that same "nasty" serve do it to you. You need to learn how to return it yourself. I had a coach help me when I lost a close match 9-11 in the 5th game to a serve like that. I use the same serves you mentioned, (in a post on this thread), and the other evening I was in a league match against someone that couldn't return that serve. I Served the same "nasty" serve almost every time until he could prove to me he could get it over the net...he never did, it was a very quick match.


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

Well if you compete regularly, you’ll play the same opponents again and again, 1st.  - serve whatever variations to find out what’s most effective, that’s the one to play less, will keep it for crucial points. 2nd - I film all my games and as many opponents as possible to be prepared for the next encounter.


Marcus Anbau

Marcus Anbau Posted 9 years ago

Sure Tim. My coach does such serves, once a week a can play a match with him. I dont get the serve over the net all the time, but most times. The harder part part is to read his spinvariations, which he does all the time. If one doesnt realise that suddenly there is less spin on the serve , ball gets too high... He is really good at hiding his variations. One needs to be highly focused.


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Rene,

The only thing i would say is that if you find a serve that works well, you should use it more not less.  Then it may not get to a crucial stage of the match because you will have already won.


ker Gordon

ker Gordon Posted 9 years ago

I recently played the handicap cup, playing a team 3 divisions below me anyway i found my short kicker serve to most useful mixed in with  reverse backspin deep into the Backhand to be really effective. 


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

Ok Alois, don’t you think your opponent has the answer to your special serve ready within a few sets, or at least for the next match he’ll sure be ready. If you rely only on a serve to win a game, won’t you’ll be in trouble soon? I’m not referring to professionals, for them it will be almost impossible to hide anything anyway.


Tim Stephens

Tim Stephens Posted 9 years ago

"The only thing i would say is that if you find a serve that works well, you should use it more not less.  Then it may not get to a crucial stage of the match because you will have already won."

Thanks for making that point. I didn't have to use some others I had yet, next time I run up against I will frustrate him with another few in the bag. :D

 


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

Sorry Tim, but we found it out the hard way, lost gold acting stupidly against my coach advise not to use the specific serve to often, 5th set  10 x 10 opponents coach took timeout, he just knew I would come up with that serve again. Unfortunately I didn’t have another few in the bag like you, and if I had, then for sure would have kept the special one reserved for special occasion. And oh I certainly agree with Alois and try to use as many serves that work well as I can.


Tim Stephens

Tim Stephens Posted 9 years ago

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So sorry. You will get the next one!

 


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

I did, two on a row, unfortunately I didn’t have the opponents I could beat just be serving, and if I had wouldn’t do it anyway, wouldn’t enjoy myself doing it.


RICK Santos

RICK Santos Posted 9 years ago

Why not????


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

If a guy is so under skilled he can’t return a repeated single serve during a whole match, he’s a beginner, and I see no sport in serving or smashing him out of his socks. I’ll bet he won’t either. I’ll try my best with skilled players but doubt if one can zero a player like that in the first set, just by serving.


Marcus Anbau

Marcus Anbau Posted 9 years ago

Its possible allright:P Depends on league level.. But I share your attitude about not destroying them:)


swaroop dhulipalla

swaroop dhulipalla Posted 8 years ago

I like to do a pendulum or a reverse pendulum serve.i mean i personally prefer them


Edwin Gosens

Edwin Gosens Posted 8 years ago

I think it depends on your opponent whitch serve has the most effect on them.

If your opponent has bad footwork a fast and long serve right on his elbow (the crossover point) will be effective but dont use it the entire match because you opponent will be able to adapt.

If your opponent is left handed (and you are right handed) a short pendulum serve wide to his forehand with alot of spin you will get back a weak ball. but once again dont use it too much because ou opponent will adapt.

same for a righthander short reverse pendulum serves on his forehand will be effective (zhang jike does it alot against righthanders)


Earl Joseph

Earl Joseph Posted 8 years ago

I use mostly all type of serves in a match. Because if my opp. get used to one serve, he will attack. that's why. Si, this tactic is correct, right?


Ahmad Malik

Ahmad Malik Posted 8 years ago

Im sorry i pasted a blank page.... My comment-

ive read most comments up and all are very reasonable, my s recommendation if you are on a beginner level.. Focus on fast and low serves.. Fast and low a serves are good for beginners but `spin` is much more effective, learn a fast and keep practicing your spin , when you have understood spin, and its reaction by opponents, and perfected spin, then apply it in a match

GOODLUCK!!


Gary McAdams

Gary McAdams Posted 8 years ago

A well-disguised no-spin and top-spin pendulum serve have been my bread-and-butter so far, even against players who are much better than me.  It's very satisfying to serve a short topspin and watch the enemy try to push it back, which causes it to pop straight up in the air for an easy smash.  It really does a number on their mental game too :-)


Yuriy Melnikov

Yuriy Melnikov Posted 7 years ago

I think that spinny underspin short serve, spinny short topspin serve and spinny  sidespin serve are most effective against opponents. Sometimes try no spin serve or long serves with different spins as unpredictible serves.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Yuriy,

That sounds like good advice. Keeping a lot of your serves short with some surprise long serves can be very effective. If your opponent doesn't like the long fast serves then you can throw in more of them.


Kailash Gowtham

Kailash Gowtham Posted 7 years ago

Always have variation and try to decieve your opponent.

And yes never do the samw serve consecutively more than three times as your opponent would get used to it.

Exampleif you use a sidespin serve and your opponent is not able to lift and then do a serve with the spin in the opposite direction and always have a suprise serve like a fast long sreve as your opponent would get used to pushing on your spin serves and push your fast serve as a reflex(als people tend to chop when ball comes suddenly) giving you the height to hit

 


Table TennisGuy

Table TennisGuy Posted 7 years ago

I think the reverse pendulum serve is beast!


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

I usually do not use reverse pendulum,because it always goes nearly paralelly with the net.....

But I have a large variety of normal pendulum serves,although they are weak

But I am often quite succesful with using a sidespin topspin serve,while trying to keep it short

Also,I have an equal success with a no spin fast serve into the free corner


eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 7 years ago

Along my time as a player i have had different serves that one day I stopped using. Maybe because of disappointment or simply I forgot them. Eventually they have come back to my mind at a critical moment with good results. For that reason I started counting my services and their variants and cataloged them as: passive conservative, set up for attack and "forgotten" ones for emergency situations. Always keep perfecting your services and inventing new ones or variants of the existing ones.


Jon Ferguson

Jon Ferguson Posted 7 years ago

Hi Everyone-

I think the main thing to develop at any level is service variation, ie., two different spins from the same service action. JO Waldner and Werner Schlager were masters at this.

The one I prefer is the forehand pendulum serve with one main variation. Normally I serve back/ side spin, with the variation being side/ top spin. The action of the serve is exactly the same for both, until right at the end when bat meets ball. It is very deceptive, difficult to see, and can win easy points. Accelerating the ball off the bat when doing the side/ top variation will give your opponent less time to react if he/ she does notice the switch.

Look for "Werner Schlager Service Explanation" on You Tube- this video will give you some idea of what I mean, although Werner uses different variations in this video.

The background noise is fairly high, but you can hear most of what he says.

Good Luck

Jon


Romeo Chua

Romeo Chua Posted 7 years ago

Should we still use our best serves at practice matches?


Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago

In our club and at top level, short serves are promoted to be key, because they prevent an attack.

However, I have found that at my level, players have a lot of trouble with fast, deep serves, especially if they have sidespin on them.

Since I saw a video (in French) by Christophe Legout, where this professional player talks about fast serves most of the time, I've come to rehabilitate the fast deep serve in my games and now use it up to 40%. I'm varying pure sidespin with a fast dead serve or a side topspin serve. The sidespin will be returned out sideways, the topspin out long, and the dead serve into the net.

When my opponents become intimidated with these fast sdeep erves to the backhand, I throw in a short backspin serve to the forehand side. Again, at my level, this will often result in a double bounce ace! It's a glorious feeling.

I'm mixing in the pendulum serves of all sorts just to keep the opponent confused and prevent him from learning how to handle the deep serves. I used to follow the "short serve, 3rd ball attack" tactic, which I'm sure will remain important throughout my career, but I'm winning many direct points with deep serves.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Dieter,

Yes long serves can certainly be effective especially if your opponent doesn't like them. Your story reminded me of a blog article I wrote a while back. I've now put this up on the new blog, it's called Serve Long.


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

Hi Jeff

You would probably be surprised how effective could the plain topspin serve be at my level :DD

In some cases I devastate my opponents with only this serve,but never win,because I cannot force them to do a slow spinny loop


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

And when we are talking about the effectiveness of a serve..does anyone know how the ball can travel in a S-shape??

My last opponent used a serve which bounced to the left from his half of the table,but when it fell down on my table,it bounced to the right?

How is this even possible?

Or am I already so blind that I see illusions??


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi DK,

When you hit the ball you send it off your bat spinning in a particular direction, after it's left your bat you cannot change the spin. This means that the ball only spins in one direction from the time it leaves the bat until it reaches you.


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

So why it looks like it forms "S shape"?

Am I so blind???

 


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

I don't really know DK as I haven't seen the serve. All I know is that ball can only spin one way from the time it leaves your opponents bat until you hit it.


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

Ok,thank you.

I will try to watch that serve better.

but it will be difficult,because of my bad eyes I almost cannot track the ball


eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 7 years ago

Perhaps D K was moving too much in the direction of the first bounce when the ball bounced the second time so it appeared to be moving in the opposite direction. I think the best serve at our level is a set-up serve for attacking.


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

I am not moving when an opponent serves

I start to move after the second bounce,this is the first moment when I can find out where is the ball (in the case of the fast serves)

I just have 8mm thick glasses and almost cannot see fast moves,or  at least cannot see them correctly.

It may be the problem,probably


Jon Ferguson

Jon Ferguson Posted 7 years ago

DK- 

The only thing I can recommend is to talk to your optometrist about getting tinted lenses. Yellow or orange is the colour often used by indoor sports people- it enhances sharp focus in low or lower light conditions.

Perhaps consider having a tinted pair just for table tennis, and a clear pair for everyday use.


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

Hi Jon

Why coloured?

I have problems with speed not light

(if the table is not mirroring)

And I said it somewhere else:my eye doctor said that he does not recommend me to use lenses,because my eyes are too sensitive according to my doctor.


eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 7 years ago

 DK, you have received good advices to improve your chances of seeing better.


D K

D K Posted 7 years ago

I am of course very glad that you are trying to help me.

But I do not understand how could coloured lenses improve my sight


Tushar Verma

Tushar Verma Posted 6 years ago

If we are playing at a club level the combination of underspin and topspin will be great but for a tournament; depending what serve you can do the best.


Johan B

Johan B Posted 6 years ago

That's a nice magic trick, Tushar :)


maarten koopmans

maarten koopmans Posted 6 years ago

for me, currently playing at a club level, my favorite serves are backhand sidetopspin, BH sidebackspin, BH sidespin and the BH backspin. with these 4 variations I do pretty good at club level. placement is probably another aspect which could help a lot. Good luck finding a serve that works for you!


D K

D K Posted 6 years ago

I have found the He Zhi Wen serve very effective at my level.
Many players here are used to receive backspin serves.
So they do not expect a topspin serve.
In my last matches,I scored 20 points with a row with that serve.


Tushar Verma

Tushar Verma Posted 6 years ago

That great


Johan B

Johan B Posted 6 years ago

Hah, nice DK!

So it's really wide and fast, right?


Jon Ferguson

Jon Ferguson Posted 6 years ago

I tend to favor the forehand pendulum serve, as I find it easier to disguise the type of spin on the ball. You can deliver side/back spin; side spin; or side/top spin with only a slight change in racket angle on contact.

The ball toss, racket preparation, and so on are identical for each variation. It's only when racket meets ball- at the very last moment- that things change.

Spin speed variation is another change you can make- slow back/side spin deliveries, followed by a fast side/top spin variation, can really unnerve your opponent, and take them by surprise. If they do manage to return the ball, it often pops up, making an easy attack shot for you on the third ball.

I think the forehand pendulum serve is the most popular at elite level, and the disguise factor is probably why.

It's Waldner's main serve- say no more! 


D K

D K Posted 6 years ago

Johan B:

 

Not really,it is rather spinny and higher serve.
I tend to try to keep it short,as rarely someone at my level can deal with a short topspin serve.
Sometimes I manage to get it faster or wider,but these are accidents.
I think that the main reason of effectiveness of my serve is the factor of surprise.
No other player that plays on my level in my district can do such a serve.
At least I do not know about anyone.
So my opponents often encounter this serve for the first time,if it is their first clash with me.

 


Johan B

Johan B Posted 6 years ago

Alright, cool :) keep working on it! Your eye sight should be almost no problem when serving since you are in control of everything, so it's an area you can really score points with, I'd say


D K

D K Posted 6 years ago

Actually,my eyesight is quite problem,because I must do all forehand serves blindly.

Watching the ball at so short distance combined with whipping bat is like looking into a red whirl.


D K

D K Posted 6 years ago

But...I am going to get rid of this problem soon....I have a chance to see normally in a few months.


Johan B

Johan B Posted 6 years ago

Yeah, but with practice you don't really need to see the ball :)

Oh, thats great! Good luck



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