PingPod #42 - Change the Service Rule

Table Tennis Thoughts


Jeff: Welcome to the PingPod, the Ping Pong podcast by PingSkills. I'm Jeff Plumb and with me is Alois Rosario.

Alois: How are you Jeff?

Jeff: I'm good thank you. Today Alois, we're going to talk about the service rule.

Alois: Ohh no, the service rule.

Jeff: Yes the service rule. It's very controversial, it's hard for the umpires to police, we need to do something about it don't we?

Alois: It's really difficult. You know it's hard for the umpires to police but you know where I reckon it's the hardest? It's at club level.

Jeff: Really?

Alois: Because at club level your mates are umpiring for you, your team mate, or one of your opponents and it becomes really messy and difficult to call all of these rules with serving.

Jeff: Yeah so I think the main ones that are contentious are hiding the ball and then sometimes even throwing the ball up the sixteen centimetres.

Alois: Yeah it is. So that one is definitely one at the club level, you know players that haven't played much before and getting the feel of throwing the ball up to that level but then yeah the one about the hiding becomes really difficult probably when you get to that next level.

Jeff: Yes OK. Alright so we've had a few ideas that we've seen around the times do you want to tell us about some ideas?

Alois: Yes, so one idea from Phillip Boyle, one of the great table tennis players of our time, suggested the tennis serving rules so you're serving across court so that way you've only got half the court to cover and then forget about all the other rules and you can serve however you want basically.

Jeff: However you like?

Alois: Yep

Jeff: OK. I'm not sure, what about even throwing it into your bat and..

Alois: Oh yeah maybe not.

Jeff: OK but in terms of the hiding rule

Alois: Yeah the hiding rule

Jeff: Now, and then you serve one across one way, one across the other way like tennis?

Alois: Yeah I think one across one way and one across the other way although we left handers probably just like to serve across that way so maybe we just leave it at the right diagonal?

Jeff: No way

Alois: No

Jeff: No both.

Alois: OK.

Jeff: So if they can hide it now how is that going to improve this for table tennis?

Alois: So it just makes it easier to police for the umpires so they, I mean the umpire sitting over there trying to decide what's happening over there and whether the person there can see the ball and whether it's between these two net posts, it's just too difficult. Too difficult for those poor umpires they've got enough on their plate to keep track of the players and that sort of thing, that's just, you just can't call something from the middle of the table sitting over there.

Jeff: Not when you're meant to be calling it from the point of view of the player, of the returner.

Alois: Exactly.

Jeff: And I guess the point about serving to only one half of the table is that it reduces the effectiveness of the serve which is what that not hiding it was meant to do so this reduces the effectiveness of the serve without making it harder on the umpires so that's got to be a good thing.

Alois: Yep, so maybe from here on in we'll call it the Phillip Boyle rule.

Jeff: OK. Another suggestion I've heard and read about on Larry Hodges blog is that both umpires have to be able to see the ball from where their sitting so it's no longer about what the returner sees but what the umpires see.

Alois: Yep, so I think at that highest level that can probably work. Again the only problem there is then when you get to the club level you're flat out trying to find an umpire, you know you've got to go and beg sometimes at club level and at local tournament level so then to try and find two umpires and then for them to police that rule again maybe a little bit difficult but yeah at that top level that's not a bad one is it?

Jeff: And you know say don't have any umpires at all, then I guess the original rule about the server, the server could just call it?

Alois: Yes but..

Jeff: That would cause at the club level

Alois: At the club level

Jeff: But then that would cause

Alois: It's a mine field

Jeff: Cause a lot of arguments if you kept getting faulted by your opponent.

Alois: Yeah exactly.

Jeff: So again Phillip Boyle's rule then is quite easy to, I like it.

Alois: Yeah I like it.

Jeff: Do you reckon we should have a bit of a try and see what it's like?

Alois: Yep, let's do it.

Jeff: Alright, let's go. Let's have a try.

Alois: Alright.

Alois: So with this I've only got half the table to cover. Oh geez.

Jeff: But that was fast.

Alois: That was fast. Alright I'm ready for you now Jeff.

Jeff: Oooh

Alois: So it does tend to even up the odds a little bit more into the receiver's favour. Alright let's go the other way now.

Jeff: Shot!

Alois: OK, so Jeff's going to serve on the right diagonal.

Jeff: Oh good shot.

Alois: It does even up the odds a little bit because I've only got half the table to cover and the fact that he's hiding the serve doesn't really affect me too much so even though I can't see the contact I've only got half the area to cover so it's not so bad.

Alois: Oh yeah I don't know about serving on that diagonal. Us left handers don't like that so much. So yeah I need to change the angles up a little bit but how is it there for you Jeff.

Jeff: Yeah it's a little bit strange.

Alois: Jeff's going the backhand over there. I'm going to go down the line. He's leaving a big gap for me.

Alois: Ohhh, so the hiding of the serve makes it harder but I've only got half the table to cover.

Alois: What are you doing now? Oi. I couldn't see the contact.

Jeff: Well that was a bit of fun Alois.

Alois: Yeah, so what do you think?

Jeff: I think you need to improve your serves!

Alois: Sure. So I think it does balance up the average a little bit by just cutting it down to one side and even though you were doing those slimy sneaky serves that I couldn't see.

Jeff: Yeah I think that it balances things up but it would definitely change the game quite a lot because I found that when I served from that forehand side my backhand side was wide open and it really would change up how played the game you'd have to think about your tactics from serving out wide and how you'd cover up that area. And even the same when I was kind of stepping around to serve from my backhand side, I was going to play a forehand most of the time but then that again, it just changes the perspective of the game.

Alois: It does, doesn't it. So when you're serving in doubles from out there you've got your partner to cover the next ball but this would change the dynamics a lot but as far as the actual thinking about the serve and the effectiveness of the serve, not a bad idea.

Jeff: Yeah it definitely makes returning serve easier and you know that from doubles if you only have half the court to return you know it's coming to that area it's a lot lot easier.

Alois: Yep, so Phillip Boyle you might be on to something

Jeff: Yeah. Alright. So everybody leave a comment. Let us know what your thoughts are on Phillip Boyle's idea and Larry Hodges idea about the two umpires as well and if you've got any other ideas that you think would solve this service rule problem that everybody keeps talking about. Thanks guys.

Alois: Bye

Posted 9 years ago

Thoughts on this blog

Notify me of updates

PETER RAPP Posted 9 years ago



Larry Hodges

Larry Hodges Posted 9 years ago

Above, and at 3:09 in the video, they refer to my proposal, but leave out a key part. My proposal isn't that both umpires must be able to see the ball, but the following: "Throughout the serve, the ball must be visible to both umpires, or where the umpires would sit if there were umpires." The second part is key, since most matches do not have umpires. And just as the purpose of the 6-inch toss wasn't to make players toss the ball six inches but to make sure they weren't serving out of their hand, the purpose here isn't to make players serve so the ball is visible to both umpires (or where they would sit) but so that the ball is clearly visible to the opponent - which is the result of this rule. (I didn't originate this idea, but I'm hoping to push it through.) 

-Larry Hodges

Gordon L

Gordon L Posted 9 years ago

I think Larry Hodges idea is the better idea.  While it's tough to get one umpire, let alone two, the idea is still sound - the ball must be in front of the body so that  umpires to both sides, real or imaginary, can see the ball all the way from the start of the service to the moment the ball is struck.  This would eliminate using the arm/body to hide the ball from all fields of view.

Khalifa AlShamisi

Khalifa AlShamisi Posted 9 years ago

I think it may be effective since only there is only the half to cover but the other half is wide open so I guess you to get used to it to be able to use it .Also in my country we use that rule more often than the regular rule so I think it is 50-50 to me

Larry Hodges

Larry Hodges Posted 9 years ago

I plan to solicit a tournament director - hopefully of a large tournament - to run an experimental tournament with this service rule as a test. If it works out, then we can propose it to ITTF. It's such a simple rule: "Throughout the serve, the ball must be visible to both umpires, or where the umpires would sit if there were umpires."

Markus Gabriel

Markus Gabriel Posted 9 years ago

What, if you had to throw up the ball with your bat hand? Than you need to throw it higher to get enough time for your swing. And it would be hard to hide your stroke. it could be that easy. May be you can try this out for us.

brian bissenden

brian bissenden Posted 9 years ago

I agree with Markus throw the ball up with the bat hand or maybe two bounces on the bat and then serve. That rule would not stop the free arm getting in the way but it would be obvious what the free arm was doing . It could be worth an experiment.

Nick Trusiewicz

Nick Trusiewicz Posted 9 years ago

Throw the ball up with your bat hand? How is this even practical?

As a beginner, it was hard enough to learn to execute the current legal serve. I can only imagine the broken bats lying on the floor if this were put into effect!

I think everyone would ignore it at club level (I know they would at mine). The "visible to both umpires" rule seems the only fair solution. It is difficult enough for beginners as it is, and these rules would discourage new players from coming into the game.

Sushil Agrawal

Sushil Agrawal Posted 9 years ago

I will help. I think we need to reduce the effect of serve in the game. Some players win just due to their serves.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Throughout the serve, the ball must be visible to both umpires, or where the umpires would sit if there were umpires.

Good luck testing out this rule Larry. If there's anyway you think we could help you with this then let us know.


And thanks everyone for contributing to the discussion. Keep the comments coming!

Rick Gregory

Rick Gregory Posted 9 years ago

Much prefer Larry Hodges' proposal over the tennis serve rule. At the club level we manage to handle "questionable" net serves, surely we can make certain the ball is visible to the opponent on the serve.

sachintha weerasinghe

sachintha weerasinghe Posted 9 years ago

But don't you'll think that Larry's rule would further contribute to decreasing the quality of the game?

What i mean is first the ittf change the material of the ball just because the cost involved in transportation and storage would be reduced,but it contributed negatively on the game leading to less spin and less speed and eventually don't you think that players will reduce their standards( due to playing with slower and less spinnier equipment) and table tennis would go a little back in terms of speed and spin.

I'm no expert on table tennis but isn't this something we should take into consideration?Please leave a reply.

Larry Hodges

Larry Hodges Posted 9 years ago

Sachintha, how would requiring players to serve so the ball is visible to the opponent decrease the quality of the game? That is the goal of the current rule, but the wording fails to achieve this. The new wording should do so. It'll mean less easy mistakes off misread serves, meaning higher-quality of play. Currently hidden serves is the biggest headache at the higher levels - umpires aren't sure if the serve is visible or not and so don't call it, and so most titles are won by players willing to serve illegally.

Colin Gurteen

Colin Gurteen Posted 9 years ago

My understanding is that the current rule (with the change to stop hidden serves) is to give the receiver the best possible chance of making a return and therefore establishing a rally.  To me, the problem lies not with the intent of the rule but with the policing of the rule.

Boyle's Law doesn't help if serves can be hidden.

Hodges Law might help but is dependent upon umpires willing to call what they see.

Another suggestion I've heard is to allow only backhand serves.  This would have the effect of making hidden serves virtually impossible (I'd love to see video of Jeff and Alois attempting hidden backhand serves!) and ensuring that the opponent can see the ball throughout the service action.  What do you reckon?

Larry Hodges

Larry Hodges Posted 9 years ago

Colin, the problem with the current rule is that umpires sitting on the side can't tell if the serve is hidden or not, and so they don't call it. If you require the ball to be visible to the umpire or where he sits, than any serve that is actually hidden from the receiver is so obvious it's an easy call.

brian bissenden

brian bissenden Posted 9 years ago

Is there any high speed camera footage of a top game to show the % of serves that are hidden ?

Colin Gurteen

Colin Gurteen Posted 9 years ago

Larry, in the PingPod Alois and Jeff discuss your suggestion and point out that at the lower levels of the sport there is a significant problem with finding umpires.  In every video I've seen of lower level games in the USA, it's the players themselves who are calling the scoring and umpiring as they go. I've even seen clips from tournaments where there is no umpire!  Your suggestion doesn't help people in this situation in the slightest.  Which is why Alois and Jeff lean towards the Boyle suggestion:

the only problem there is then when you get to the club level you're flat out trying to find an umpire, you know you've got to go and beg sometimes at club level and at local tournament level so then to try and find two umpires and then for them to police that rule again maybe a little bit difficult (from the transcript)

I don't like either proposal, which is why I'm asking about serving backhand only.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 9 years ago

A mistake we make when discussing rules, in my opinion, is to require that rules should be exactly the same at club level and at international level. There is not the same availability of umpires and there is not the same distribution of skill.

At my level, hiding the serve or not throwing it up 16 cm is not really giving a competitive advantage. The only part of the service rule that is really important at my level is throwing it up behind the table. This is the only thing I will call out, either as a player in non-refereed matches or as an umpire. All the other aspects I will make a remark after the match: "Be careful because you may not realize that you ..."

The Philip Boyle rule would cause a lot of discussion about the centre line, especially at club level with no, sloppy or biased umpires. It already does in double matches where some people are really midjudging the bounce and call it out (in my opinion). In tennis there is chalk dust and the ball in general moves more slowly so it's easier to judge. Table tennis has this great advantage of having hardly any line discussions and I would really hate to see it change.

I like Larry Hodges' suggestion better but I'd suggest it be applied only from a certain level onwards, being the level where hiding serve really matters.

The backhand only rule would solve most of the hiding issues but it's quite drastic, isn't it? A reduced version of that rule would be: serve with your feet parallel to the table. This would still allow forehand serves and especially tomahawk serves.

But the main message remains: don't induce issues at club level by solving issues at top level.

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 9 years ago

#"Backhand only": Applicable and probably quite efficient for avoiding hidden serves with most players. So I'd vote for testing that. The only negative point here to me is that it somehow feels "wrong" to ban any forehand serve and to "restrict the game".

#"Tossing with the bat hand": Applicable and could be tested, but I anticipate that it would mostly make the lives of beginners and lower level servers harder, while the really good players would end up being able to reproduce the same throw they're doing today. So I'm not sure about that one.

#"Tossing with the bat": Same comment + it would be very hard to judge if the server didn't put some spin on his throw (which is the intent of the current rule that says you have to throw the ball from the palm of you open hand). And if you removed that restriction... big advantage added to the server.

# "Tennis serve" (= alternate cross court serve + allowed hiding): Applicable and obviously solves the "hiding disputes", gives more advantage to the server while compensating it a bit for the receiver via the restricted receiving area. I would put a little question mark on Jeff and Alois's simulation though: don't forget that you know each other extremely well, and therefore I think the advantage of being allowed to hide the serve was probably reduced vs. when you play someone for the first time, like it often happens in real life.

# "Two (actual or imaginary) umpires must see the ball" (sitting at the net level on both sides of the table): Perfect for high level tournaments, inapplicable for all other matches where there is between 1 and 0 umpire (and which probably represent 95% of the total matches). Today we say that a umpire sitting at a 45° angle from the actual receiver's angle of view cannot judge whether or not that receiver could see the ball thorough the serve action. I agree with that. With a single umpire, the "two umpires must see" rule would only differ from the existing rule by the view the umpire would have to "imagine in his head", i.e. today he must imagine what the receiver could see, tomorrow he would have to look at what himself sees + imagine what a virtual second umpire sitting right across the table would see. How is that any easier? And with no umpire, who cares what virtual umpires would see, it comes back to "did the receiver see?", and as the players are both "the umpire", the receiver will call an illegal serve and the server will say it wasn't illegal. Just like today.

As I was mentioning, probably 95% of all matches are played with one non qualified and/or inherently non impartial (from one of the involved teams) or no umpire at all. Therefore I think that any rule must be applicable in these situations. So they have to be simple. The simplest of all rules is no rule at all. Then everybody has the same chances and there are no disputes. I don't say I like that option, but to me it is the only one that is applicable at all levels.

Yesterday I watched a game at a decent local level and I saw a guy very obviously throwing the ball horizontally and backwards against his bat for his fast forehand serve. The player from our team complained that he didn't toss the ball up at all (not even mentioning the backwards throw which is harder to judge), but the umpire (member of the opponents team) just ignored him. What can you do? Stand there and take your cell phone out to shoot a video of the next serve instead of playing? (sometimes I really wanted to do this, be it only as a provocation) With any rule that is not clear-cut enough, the honest player who doesn't use illegal serves is just penalized.

With this in mind, here would be my little contribution as a workable serving rule improvement: Significantly increase the minimum toss height. Let's say for example 50cm instead of the current 16cm. How does it make any difference? While I don't expect anybody to judge the exact height of a toss, be it 16 or 50cm, the point is that requiring 50cm would definitively make it must harder to not sanction those who don't lift the ball at all. That, I think, would be a good thing.

Larry Hodges

Larry Hodges Posted 9 years ago

Colin, as I explained in my first comment above, they didn't give my serving proposal correctly. The actual proposal is: "Throughout the serve, the ball must be visible to both umpires, or where the umpires would sit if there were umpires." The second part (which I have bolded) is key. This makes it obvious if a player is trying to hide the serve from the receiver. Just as the purpose of the 6-inch toss wasn't to toss the ball up 6 inches but to keep players from serving out of their hands, the purpose of this new rule wouldn't be to make the ball visible to the umpires or where they would sit, but to the receiver. If you try to hide the ball from the receiver, it will be obvious it is hidden from the umpires or where they would sit. No umpire is actually needed to enforce this any more than an umpire is needed to enforce the 6-inch serving rule. It also doesn't dramatically change the game as all current serves can be adjusted easily to comply. Requiring only backhand serves, while perhaps a good idea, would dramatically change the game as the great majority of players would have to learn to serve nearly from scratch since most players serve forehand. There would be far more resistance to that then to simply requiring the serve be more visible. 

russell stein

russell stein Posted 9 years ago

Hi it's russell from perth. One of our great players .greg letts has an excellent idea , he says change the law to that the loser of the point always serves.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 9 years ago

Another remark and this applies to society in general: rules that are not enforced should be abolished. Today I watched the Mizutani-Ovtcharov final and both were clearly hiding their serve. Ovtcharov especially was hiding his pendulum behind his throwing arm. Mizutani did it more subtly behind the body. Except for Ma Long almost nobody is tossing the ball vertically. On club level I see many serves starting under the table and many with closed palm Into the bat, staying well below 16 cm. What's the point of rules if no umpire ever calls upon them?

so before making any new rules, think about enforcement.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Excellent point Dieter. And that is the problem with the current rule as the umpires can't tell if the serve is legal or not from where they are sitting. So I think we need to either remove that rule or change it. 

Jim Dixon

Jim Dixon Posted 9 years ago

A our club we play doubles 99% of the time, so we are at a disadvantage when it comes to playing singles in league matches. A change to the "half court" service rule would help a lot.

Andy Wright

Andy Wright Posted 9 years ago

Another suggestion which has been made which would completely stop the "not throwing the ball up" scenario, (A particular bone of contention at club level) is that the ball his held in the bat hand, and not the free hand. Try serving without throwing the ball up then if you can!!

Christopher Gilsenan

Christopher Gilsenan Posted 9 years ago

Hi, this is an interesting point about the legality of service and I do like the suggestion of the alternate cross court service rule. My point however is about the enforcing of this rule in itself because surely service coaching would have to change dramatically as a player becomes exposed on their opposit side every service and the returner has the full table to exploit?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Yes it would change things dramatically.  But may even up the balance between server and receiver.

Ilia Minkin

Ilia Minkin Posted 9 years ago

At the highest level, why not just add a few cameras at certain angles for catching illegal servers? In this case umpires can sit right where they sit now, and if they suspect that the serve was illegal, just watch a replay? It is implemented in various other sports, even players may request ("challenge") a replay. It could be difficult to enforce at club level, but it can be implemented even at a local tournament. Nowadays nearly every kid has a phone with a camera, though you may need a tripod (I bought one for 5$). Even if there is no umpire right at the table, there should be at least one at the whole tournament, so that he can judge and enforce rules.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Interesting idea Ilia. As you say a lot of sports are now using instant replays to make decisions.

Marcin Lonak

Marcin Lonak Posted 8 years ago

I think I have a good idea. I hope maybe pingskills can try it.

ruleschange would have 3 parts. It sounds to much but if you try it feels easy.

nr.1 and most importand: you are not allowed to stay opposite to the table while serving. The judgment of whether you stay opposite or not to the table is determined by your feet position. The right foot has to be on the right side of the table.

Nr.2 on forhandserve it's vorbidden to keep the free arm raised on contact with the ball. The arm has to be either down along the corpus or resting on the surface of the table. (For that is allowing of touching the surface with the free hand I would allow it just for the service).

mabe 3 things are too much, but if you try it, it feels for me quit logic.



Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 8 years ago

3 things are certainly not too much if they are actually 2

A side remark: do we have statistics of points won by server? If it's below 70% I wouldn't make a big fuzz about it.


Marcin Lonak

Marcin Lonak Posted 8 years ago

Correct to point 1 last sentence: the right foot and left foot have to match the right side and left side of the table.

Larry Hodges

Larry Hodges Posted 8 years ago

I've since changed my proposal to a less extreme proposal, where we simply require that the ball be visible throughout the serve to the opponent and to the entire net and its upward extension


Current Rule:

02.06.04: From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server's end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry. 

Proposed Rule:


02.06.04: From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server's end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver[, or any part of the net and its upward extension,] by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry. 

I’ve tested this out at my club along with many others, and it solves the problem. If you try to hide the ball from an opponent in a normal ready position, it’s obvious you are hiding the ball from at least part of the net. For example, if a righty serves to a righty, there is almost a 90 degree angle in the line of sight from the ball to the opponent, and the ball to the left net post. When serving to a lefty the angle is still close to 45 degrees unless the lefty goes into an extreme forehand position. 

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Good idea Larry. We'll mention this on our next Ask the Coach show.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 8 years ago

I still don't like it. It leads to "you did" - "no I didn't" discussions.

If there are no referees, the rules should be self enforcing. Compare it to let: there's hardly ever discussion about a let because the net itself makes the deviation of a real serve apparent: the ball is slowed down and changes direction. Imagine you'd have an invisible line which has to be crossed and the players should call out when they think the ball didn't pass.

I don't have a real solution but what I recommend is:

- if there's a referee, he should see the ball

- if there's no referee, you can do what you want

At those levels where no referees are present, players are likely not strong enough to benefit from hiding.


Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 8 years ago

"if there's a referee, he should see the ball": better than nothing, because it involves the judgement of a neutral person, but for that to work, there need to be two referees, one on each side. This only starts to happen a a fairly high level. If you have just one, he's sitting on the left side of the table relative to a right-handed server doing a pendulum serve from his backhand corner (classical position), that referee has no chance to see the ball, although it can be perfectly visible to the receiver, which is what actually matters.

It's really a difficult rule to apply. The other day, I had an right-handed opponent who hid the ball with his body (and opportunely lose shirt), doing serves from his backhand corner when I was standing in my usual rather central receiving position. I had to shift a lot to the left to somewhat solve the issue, exposing my forehand side to fast long parallel serves (I don't have the quickest reaction time in the world, which is why I prefer being in the middle although my forehand is stronger). What was I supposed to say? "Hey, I don't see the ball from where I like to be" ? This is just to highlight how vague the notion of "not be hidden from the receiver" is, and therefore difficult to enforce.

For now, I haven't seen any practically applicable change proposal, other than serving only with the backhand (free arm removal would still need to be enforced).

Have a good day.

Marcin Lonak

Marcin Lonak Posted 8 years ago

Nobody seems to take my proposition seriously. I wonder why. There no direct comments to my proposal.may be it is because my poor English.  


Reffering to my point1.

At the moment a pendulum serve is very suited for hiding with the body. But if there be a rule forbidding standing opposite to the table, as everyone stands, means the left foot matches the right side of the table, then using hiding with the body won't be natural anymore and very risky. So with a rule witch would just allow standing with the feet matching with table sides (you could still stay side on, just importand that the left foot is not in front of the right foot compared to the table). 

Point 2 is about hiding with the arm. Just having the free arm alongside the body during contact of ball and bat would solve the problem. But I admit, may be its a less elegant idea then my idea for avoiding the hiding with the body.

so I think it's not that bad. 1 We don't have to make just serves to one side and 2 Long Live Forhandserves!

just the pendulum serve will loose some of its attractivity. But there is too much pendulum serve in the world anywhere;) 

Marcin Lonak

Marcin Lonak Posted 8 years ago

I mean anyway

Ilia Minkin

Ilia Minkin Posted 8 years ago

Here is an absolutely hilarious video video by Greg Letts.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

I hadn’t realised it was Greg doing those videos.  They are well done.

Mark Montague

Mark Montague Posted 8 years ago

Philip Boyle's idea is very interesting.  I'd like to add this suggestion: you don't have to alternate serving on the left and then serving on the right, but instead you can serve from whichever side you prefer as long as you serve cross-court.  This makes it easier for the server to prepare for the 3rd ball, making the rule change a bit more palatable. 

But unfortunately I think Boyle's idea would lead to a lot more hiding of serves (even though most people wouldn't go as far as Jeff's under-the-leg approach).  I prefer the rule proposals that try to reduce the element of deception (e.g., hiding or camouflaging the spin of the serve), since I would prefer to focus the game on skill, speed, strength, etc, and not deception and tricks.  So Larry Hodges' rule is preferable.

Ultimately it may be better for the sport if we could find ways of reducing the importance of the serve altogether.  I think that most people would agree that rallying is the fun part; if we could somehow start the rally with no serve at all, I'd love it.  This is what is interesting about Liha, though there may be better ways of starting the rally.


PETER RAPP Posted 8 years ago



Aneeket Adhlakha

Aneeket Adhlakha Posted 8 years ago

The idea by Philip Boyle was good but then it is a lot harder to do those high toss side spin serves from the centre of the table 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

I think that also adds to Phillips idea.

Danny Wong

Danny Wong Posted 7 years ago

Regarding serving, I personally think the tossing the ball directly straight is even less officiated than the "hiding" part. As someoen that was trained with training to toss it perfectly straight for months on end before learning to serve, I find it very shocking that every high level famous pros toss upside down "U-shaped" serves that are advantageous. Has the rules been changed since  I restarted playing pingpong?

Also, I think the phillip boyle style ruling favors shakehand hold more than penhold just because of wrist angle flexibilty, if you are going crazy in hiding and adding funky spins. 

Can anyone validate my concerns? I am not a regular or experienced player either. I use to play the 21-pt rounds for over half of mmy pingpong playing career haha before i learned otherwise.

Bob Jude

Bob Jude Posted 7 years ago

A simple answer is to change the service rule. It could be: Ball to be held at shoulder level in finger tips at least 12 inches above table and dropped without spin. No part of body can hide contact.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

The is an interesting one too Bob.

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