Serving is one of the most contentious topics when playing ping pong between amateurs. And the rules for service are probably among the least respected in the game.
Today we are going to talk about how to serve in table tennis easily and perfectly.
Table tennis serve type list
First of all, here is a list of the different types of serves in table tennis. They are divided into “types of spin” and “types of hitting” and listed respectively.
List of Serve Types
Spin type list
- knuckle serve
- downward spinning serve
- side-rotating serve
- upward spinning serve
- gyro-spinning serve
Types of hitting
- back serve
- crouched serve
- YG serve.
- wrap around serve
- high serve
Combine the spinning and hitting style and you have an infinite number of table tennis serves. For example, Down spin x Back Serve, Down Rotation x Height Serve, etc.
Furthermore, it is possible to combine multiple combinations, such as Down Rotation x Back Serve x Height Serve.
The more serves you can offer, the more you can draw out of your tactics.
How to hit each type of serve
A knuckle serve is a serve that is not rotated. This serve is easy for beginners to learn because there is no need to spin. I think it’s the first serve you should learn.
This serve is the basis of a table tennis serve, but it can also be mixed with other serves to increase scoring power. It’s an easy serve to hit, but it’s a deep serve that allows you to improve your accuracy at every turn.
way of hitting (a ball)
The face of the racket is the same as a normal forehand. Raise the toss and hit the ball where it falls.
If you are a beginner, practice with the goal of getting into your opponent’s court first. Once you are able to get into the opponent’s court consistently, work on your low and fast serve. The lower the hitting point, the lower the trajectory of the serve.
The knuckle serve is more effective when mixed with the lower spinning serve. If you can get the knuckle serve and the under-rotation serve in the same form, you can induce your opponent to miss.
downward spinning serve
As the name implies, it is a serve that hits the ball with a downward rotation. Once I’m able to make a forehand knuckle serve, that’s the next thing I want to try. It’s a pretty important serve that’s used a lot in matches.
way of hitting (a ball)
Position your body to the side and raise the toss in front of your body. Take a backswing with the fore-face up, and then swing forward with the timing right. Scrape the underside of the ball and apply a downward rotation.
It is important to raise the toss exactly where you want to hit it, so that the position you are hitting is not too far or too close to your body.
If you don’t have a good sense of the ball, you’ll find it quite difficult to scrape up the ball and spin it. I think the under-rotation serve can be a big hurdle for beginners.
You need to develop a sense of rotation on the ball by doing things like the ball hitting.
Tips on how to hit the ball
- In the first stage, focus on getting the “rubbing sensation” without worrying about striking out.
- If you mix it with knuckle serve, it’s very effective!
What to do when it does not spin
One of the difficulties for table tennis beginners is the feeling of rubbing up and spinning. The form is correct, but somehow it doesn’t rotate. There are many beginners who have such worries. I was one of those people.
One of the reasons why you can’t rotate is that you are afraid of striking it out.
In order to spin the ball, you have to hit the ball with the face of the racket facing upwards as if you were rubbing the ball. It might be closer to the feeling of cutting rather than hitting.
Pointing upwards reduces the hitting surface of the racket. As a result, it is often the case that the face of the racket is raised just before impact for fear of striking out and the ball is not spined.
So it’s okay to swing blankly at first, but focus on getting the feeling of rubbing up. Ball hitting is also an important practice to develop a sense of spinning.
Once you get a sense of spinning, practice on a stand.
After grasping the sense of spinning the ball by striking the ball, we move on to practice using a table tennis table. Once you have a firm downward rotation, try a short serve or a low serve.
Mix it with a knuckle serve and it works great!
Here’s a more practical way to hit the lower rotation serve. The under-rotation serve can be mixed in with the knuckle serve (no rotation) to increase scoring power.
The key is to make a “downward spinning serve” and a “knuckle serve” in the same form. By using the same form, the opponent is confused as to whether it’s a downward rotation or a knuckle.
If you think your knuckle serve is a downward spinning serve and return it with a tsutsuki( downward spin with long push), the ball will float and create a chance ball.
On the other hand, if you think it’s a knuckle serve and return the ball with your forehand, the ball will go down and hit the net.
It is a serve that turns the ball sideways. When the ball hits the racket, it flies sideways. It’s a high-scoring serve that invites the opponent to make a mistake.
way of hitting (a ball)
By rubbing the sides of the ball, you can apply a lateral spin. The side-rotating serve can be used more effectively if it has more speed.
Everyone has their own way of swinging. There are a lot of people who do side rolls from their original form that don’t let the opponent read the rotation.
List of types of side rotation serves
There are several types of side rotation serves. A normal lateral spin is a right lateral spin and a left lateral spin (reverse spin) is made by rubbing the opposite side of the ball.
You can further break it down into many more types by mixing the lower and upper spins. If you can make different types of side-spin serves with the same form, you can further flirt with your opponent.
List of Types of Side Rotating Serves
- Right lateral rotation
- Right lateral downward rotation
- Right lateral upward rotation
- Left lateral rotation
- Left lateral downward rotation
- Lateral upward left rotation
Upward spin serve
An upper spin serve that applies upper spin (forward rotation) to the ball. Once you learn the knuckle, downward rotation, and lateral rotation, this is a serve you want to challenge.
In particular, since this is an application of the horizontal rotation technique, you should learn the order of “horizontal rotation serve → upper rotation serve”.
way of hitting
An upper-rotation serve is a serve that often invites the opponent to miss by using the same form as a lower-rotation serve.
If your opponent thinks it’s a downward spinning upper serve and returns it with a tsutsuki, the ball will float and become a chance ball. The scoring guide is to smash the floating ball.
It is more difficult than the above, so it is recommended to learn the order of Knuckle -> Downward spin-> Lateral spin-> Upward spin.
This is very difficult serve to receive and is often used by top players in the world. This serve is a bit difficult to understand, but if you can handle it, it has a lot of potentials.
It’s quite perplexing on the receiving end because of the sudden change it shows the moment it enters the opposing court.
Normal side rotation serve
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Bend on your own court, bend on your opponent’s court
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Don’t bend on your own court, but turn sharply on your opponent’s court
way of hitting
A gyro-rotating serve has a different axis of rotation than a normal serve. In a normal serve, the swing is towards the opponent. Therefore, the axis of rotation is oriented in the direction of travel.
On the other hand, in the case of a gyro-rotating serve, the swing is to the side. Therefore, the axis of rotation is perpendicular to the direction of travel.
An example would be the rotation of a pistol’s bullet. The feature of gyro-rotation is to move forward while rotating sideways.
We’ve introduced the knuckle, downward spin, lateral spin, and upward spin serves. There are still many more types of ping-pong serves besides this one.
An infinite number of combinations can be added to a table tennis serve. Always try to create your own original serve.
List of other types of serves
- Back serve
- Crouched serve
- YG serve.
- wraparound serve
- High serve
It is a backhand serve. It’s a serve you don’t get to see as much as a forehand serve. As a result, receivers are less likely to read the rotation and more likely to induce mistakes.
It is generally used when you want to make a change in the development of the game.
There are also different types of back serves, such as knuckles, downward rotation, lateral rotation, and upward rotation. It’s hard to read the spin from the receiver’s end because the swing is different from the fore serve.
This is a serve where the player crouches down and strikes low before hitting the ball. The “Prince serve” used by Ai Fukuhara can also be said to be a type of crouching serve.
Unlike a normal forehand serve, this serve swings the racket from left to right (outside the body). By doing so, you can apply a reverse rotation.
They are called “Young Generation Serves” (YG Serves) because they are often used by the younger players.
While sliding the racket forward diagonally to the right, the player catches the right rear of the ball and applies a left lateral rotation. Compared to the other serves, the swing is slower and the amount of rotation is less.
However, it has the advantage that the type of rotation is difficult to understand. You can invite your opponent to make a mistake.
It is a serve that raises the toss high. It’s also known as a throw-up serve. The accelerating power of the fall is converted into the power of the ball and hit.
By changing the height of the toss and shifting the timing of the impact, you can mislead your opponent.
Table Tennis: Causes and Solutions for Not making a perfect Serve
There are two main situations in ping-pong where the serve doesn’t go in. You can’t get your serve in at a game and can’t get in at practice. Each has its own causes and solutions.
The following is a summary of solutions for each cause.
Cause 1(in game): Tension
The biggest cause of not getting your serve in, in a match, even though it goes in, in practice, is because you get nervous.
Your hands were shaking from the tension of the match and you couldn’t hit your serve or even toss it consistently. I’m sure there are many people who have fallen into such a situation.
In many cases, the pressure of we have to win is creating tension. Especially in the group competition, the pressure is heavy and the tension increases. The more nervous you are, the less your serve goes in.
The troublesome part of nervousness is that you can’t deal with it even though you know it. Don’t be nervous. Don’t get nervous. This might make you more nervous.
You may not be able to get rid of the tension, but you can relieve it. Below are seven tension-relieving strategies. I hope you can find one solution that works for you.
- Do the routine.
- Abdominal Breathing
- Close your eyes for two minutes.
- Embrace the tension.
- I assume that the other person is also nervous.
- Reduce the level of serve.
- Get used to the game anyway.
Solution 1: “Do the Routine
A routine is a “set procedure or action”. Performing certain movements before a match will help you to regain your mental calm and relieve tension.
The factor that causes tension is that “the surroundings are different than usual. In a regular practice and game, the surroundings are very different.
If you win, you go on to the next game; if you lose, you are out… The opponent is a player you’ve never met before, and there are spectators watching your game.
The more you are swept away by the changes around you, the harder it will be for you to put forth your usual strength. You could say that you get caught up in the atmosphere.
In such a situation, doing a routine will bring you a little closer to your normal state of being. Focusing on a routine is the way to get yourself back on track.
Top players also adopt a routine in tense situations.
There is a routine that a lot of people do in a table tennis match. Before making a serve, bounce the ball on the ping-pong table with a pom-pom bounce.
This is also a routine. There are many people who do it unconsciously, so there may be many people who practice it without realizing it’s a routine.
Even if you only perform some movements during a match, it is not a routine. Make sure you always do the same movements during practice. If you do it all the time, you’ll be able to do the move subconsciously in a match.
Solution 2: “Abdominal Breathing
Breathe in with your nose and breathe out with your mouth. Doing abdominal breathing can help to relieve tension. This is also not limited to table tennis matches, but many athletes do it before a match.
The point of abdominal breathing is to “inhale short and exhale long“. It is said to be effective if you exhale for twice as long as you inhale. In my case, I inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 10 seconds.
After about two minutes of abdominal breathing, your mind starts to calm down. Your heart rate, which was heightened by tension, also calms down to some extent.
I think it’s better to do it before the match, rather than before the serve. You can’t do the belly breathing every time you serve.
Solution #3: “Close your eyes for two minutes.
Closing your eyes can also help to relieve tension. By closing your eyes, your brain is rested and your mind is calmed.
It is said that 80% of the information processed by the brain is visual information. By simply shutting out visual information by closing your eyes, your brain is well rested.
Even when you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s possible to rest by simply lying in bed and closing your eyes.
Before the game, close your eyes for two minutes. That’s all it takes to go into a match in a perfect state of mind.
It is more effective when combined with the one-word belly breathing.
Solution #4: “Embrace the tension.
The worst thing to do is to think, “I shouldn’t be nervous. Even if you think you shouldn’t be nervous, you will be nervous.
The more you consciously say, “No,” the more you get into a negative spiral of being nervous.
Nerves are there for everyone. Top athletes get nervous too.As long as you’re playing a sport, you can’t escape the tension. More to the point, as long as we’re living as human beings, we can’t run away from tension.
You can’t get rid of the tension. However, you can relieve tension by accepting it. By accepting the tension in a positive way, the spirit will move towards a good state.
Solution 5) “Assume that the other person is also nervous.
As I wrote above, everyone gets nervous. I’m not the only one who is nervous about the game. Just like myself, my opponents are nervous.
Just being aware that the other person is also nervous will make you feel lighter.
When I see people who are more nervous and flustered than I am, there is a time when I suddenly calm down. Seeing someone who is nervous may help you to look at yourself objectively and calm down.
Solution #6: Reduce the level of serve.
If you are so nervous that you couldn’t get your serve in. In such cases, one option is to reduce the level of your serve.
The more difficult a serve is to make, the more nervous your hands will be. You can’t hit the serve well even when you try to make a short serve on the backside with a lot of spin.
If you have a lot of missed serves in a match, it is recommended to reduce the difficulty of your serve. Reduce the amount of spin, loosen the course, etc.
It’s quite painful to lose a point due to a serve error. You lose a point , and your opponent gets a point. That’s why I think it’s important to focus on “getting in first” if you continue to have missed serves.
Solution 7: “Get used to the game anyway.
Sorry for the sketchy solution, but it’s the most effective way to relieve tension. It’s “getting used to the game anyway”.
Again, the reason you get nervous in a game is that “it’s a different situation than usual”. It’s a different situation from practice, so you can’t give your usual performance because of the atmosphere.
The solution is very simple: get used to the game. The more experience you gain in a match, the more you move away from “unusual situations“. The more you get used to the venue and the matches, the less nervous you become.
Cause 2: “lack of practice
The reason why your serve doesn’t come in not only during matches but also during practice is “lack of practice”.
It’s natural that you won’t get in if you’re trying a serve for the first time or if you’re unfamiliar with it. The solution is very simple: just practice. The more you practice, the less likely your serve will go in.
I wrote my conclusion at the beginning, but I’ve summarized the solution, including the practice, below.
- Repeated practice
- Take advice.
- Use the video as a reference.
Solution 1: “Repetitive practice
If you can’t serve because of the lack of practice, you need to practice repeatedly. It’s a bit heavy-handed, but there’s no better solution than this.
Keep practicing your serve until you are able to get in. It’s not time that matters, but duration.
If you practice continuously for a long period of time, you will be able to get a serve that doesn’t go in. Once you can get in, the accuracy will improve.
And so it finally becomes a serve that can be used in a match. It may be an old saying, but “Continuity is power”.
Newly challenged serves are not the easiest ones to go perfectly. By practicing over and over again, you will gradually get in. It can be hard not to get in, but the process of gradually getting in is fun.
Solution #2: “Ask for advice.
The trick to getting a serve that doesn’t go in is to practice repeatedly. However, there is a more effective way to improve than practicing quietly on your own. That’s what “taking advice” is all about.
Sometimes having someone objectify you can find misalignments or problems with your form. It’s common for longstanding doubts to be resolved in an instant with a person’s advice.
Solution 3) watch video
There are various table tennis videos uploaded on Youtube. There are a variety of videos from top players’ matches to technical commentary videos.
You can also use those videos as a reference to find out what’s preventing your serve from going in.
Some simple rules
First of all, you can’t serve by holding the ball between your fingers or between the palm of your hand and your racket, or in any way that allows you to give the ball a rotation that isn’t exclusively due to the impact with the racket.
The rules require that you hold the ball on the palm of your hand, throw it in the air vertically for at least 16 centimeters without rotation and only then hit it with the racket.
Service must also be done by throwing and hitting the ball behind the baseline and above the level of the playing surface.
The other thing you can’t do is to hide the ball from your opponent in any way. We already talk about the whole rules of serving for experienced players in this article.
So here it is. Now you know about every single serve and the ways of hitting them perfectly. Make an adjustment in your practice routine for the serving practice regularly. You will notice in a short time you have become a pro in serve.