How do you identify spin on a serve?

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 11 years ago

Cristina Trowbridge

Cristina Trowbridge Asked 11 years ago

What do you suggest I can do to learn how to identify the type of spin on a serve. I find so many serve styles deceptive but I know I need to break down the serve so I can be more effective in my return. A friend suggested I watch videos? 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 11 years ago

Hi Christina,

This is a big part of Table Tennis.  Firstly you need to be able to understand the effect of spin.  Then you need to work out what type of spin is on the ball. You can watch the contact of the bat on the ball.  This will give you a lot of information. If they are contacting under the ball it will have some backspin, on the side is sidespin and brushing up on the ball will be topspin.  There will be a combination of these as well. By watching videos of better players you may start to see what is happening with the ball.  The more you watch the more information you will store.

You can also watch the flight of the ball.  This is difficult to gauge but with a lot of practice you will start to see the differences in the flight of different spins.

The next thing to do is to watch the reaction of the ball after it hits your bat. That will give you a lot of information. Of course that is too late for that shot, but you will start to build up a database of information by watching the ball carefully.

So the main thing to break down with the serve is the contact point.  Everything that happens before or after the contact is irrelevant. 

We will have the Receiving Secrets DVD out soon where we will cover these points on video so you will be able to see what is happening.

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Thoughts on this question

Chris Neumann

Chris Neumann Posted 11 years ago

Hey Cristina,


In a video from Timo Boll he said that he watched the ball's label to help him identify the spin 

Reuel Toledo

Reuel Toledo Posted 11 years ago

Hai christina,rnrnMany world class player is watching the logo of the ball, this may sound difficult depending on the spin of the ball and how fast it goes, but alot of practice can be a factor of bringing the ball back to your opponent or sending it up, side , or directly at the net, rnrnI haved a match with my coach, he serves the ball with lots of spin, all i do is to relax my wrist and it works and it keep the ball low, i hope ths works.

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