Is Jan Ove Waldner trademark serve legal

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 5 years ago

Marcus Hardung

Marcus Hardung Asked 5 years ago

Hi Alois,

I recently watched some amazing footage of Jan Ove Waldners career and how he developped his trademark serve (the one he is playing along the line below his arm )

Certainly it is quite impossible to anticipate and even less see what he is doing -but isn´t there a rule you are not allowed to hide the ball with your body or arm ?

Same with almost all pro players not throwing the ball vertical but more in an arc towards their body so they can hit it very close to their body centerline -also hiding the ball somewhat.

Where is the line to be drawn with such serves? Is it advisable to practise servicing like that in the lower ranks as well or will this be punished instantly? 

thanks for your reply


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 5 years ago

Hi Marcus,

When Waldner was playing at his best the rule about hiding the serve had not been brought in, so at the time it was a legal serve.

You are right with the players today throwing the ball towards themselves.  It is a rule that is only policed sometimes.  It is a frustration to many players.

I don’t recommend practicing the illegal serve because there may be a time that you are pulled up by the umpire at a crucial time in a match.


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Marcus Hardung

Marcus Hardung Posted 5 years ago

thanks for the advise. I'll look after my kids practising of serves to keep them "clean"!


D K

D K Posted 5 years ago

So what exactly does Waldner do with the ball using his ace serve?

And is it possible without hiding it?
I am trying for a long time to learn a serve that is not hidden,but is difficult to find out what spin is on it.

how can it be done?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 5 years ago

Good to hear Marcus.  It is easier that way.



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