Deciding the serve

Table Tennis Match Strategy

Last updated 5 years ago

Margie Hadden

Margie Hadden Asked 5 years ago

Hi Alois, have you any tips on the procedure for deciding the serve? First of all what is it called? I always have to say " Do the serve thing" and motion with my hands! Nobody seems to have a name for it.  I think that guessing the hand correctly is an important skill as it is an advantage if you win serve. I'm getting a lot better at guessing correctly and get it right most times with average players but with the better players I often get it wrong. I also rely on the one manouever to trick my opponent. The way we decide serve is that we roll the ball backwards on the table towards ourselves. We grab the ball with one hand put both of our hands under the table. We put our hands together to pass the ball into the chosen hand then spread our hands out. If it is a tournament sometimes the umpire does this and nominates a player to guess the correct hand. Sometimes a player does this. Which is the correct protocol?  and if I am umpiring how do I decide who should guess? I wouldn't be good at dummies or slight of hands. The better players hold the ball so that you can see the top part of their hands and I find this is the most difficult for me to guess correctly. So have you any tips on this and hopefuly nobody in my area will read this!

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 5 years ago

Hi Margie,

We call it the toss even though sometimes you don't toss anything...

You can toss a coin and one of the players chooses heads or tails.

You can use the ball in one hand and put both hands under the table and your opponent has to choose which hand the ball is in which is the method you describe.  If you are umpiring just choose one of the players to make the choice.  It doesn't really matter.

The coin toss is probably the most effective way, the other one is done when there is no coin available or for convenience.


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Beauford P

Beauford P Posted 5 years ago

Margie, sounds like you're doing it wrong.

As Alois mentioned, both hands are meant to be under the table, spread out towards each corner so there's no way of 'throwing' the ball to the other hand. When you spin the ball back, you let it roll off the table and catch it under the table and do a 'washing your hands' style movement to pick which hand to place the ball in, then spread your arms wide. As soon as you choose, the person holding the ball just raises both hands from under the table and shows the ball. This is easier and faster than getting coins involved.

There's no way of 'getting better at choosing' using this method. It's pure 50/50% chance each time it's done.

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