Reading the amount of spin

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 8 years ago

Andrew Malone

Andrew Malone Asked 8 years ago

Hi, I recently just joined a table tennis club that consists of mostly adults and one person will barely touch the ball but put tons of spin on it, sometimes backspin, and sometimes topspin!! How do I read the spin and the amount of spin to be able to return it? 

Thanks, Andrew

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Andrew,

This is always the biggest problem players face when they get into a club and play seasoned players.

Firstly, watch the contact of the ball really carefully.  See if you can tell which direction the bat is travelling when he actually makes contact with the ball.  This will give you your first clue.

Secondly watch the flight of the ball.  A topspin ball will tend to bounce a little higher, a backspin ball will skid through slightly and a sidespin ball will curve in the air.

Your third clue is what happens when you hit the ball and the direction it takes off in.  If it goes up then it was topspin and so on.  You may say, well that is too late.  It certainly is for that serve however every time you hit those serves your brain is recording what is happening and will adjust slowly.

Unfortunately, this is a long process and one that frustrates a lot of players.  Keep going through it and soon enough you will find yourself out the other side of this.

For more tips of Receiving serves we also have the full series of lessons on Receiving Secrets.

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Thoughts on this question

mat huang

mat huang Posted 8 years ago

I always find it hard to return serves but I think experience is the key. Most of the time, at the beginning I lose a lot of points on the senior players deep serve deciding either looping it out on in the net. Then I pay more attention to the spin. If the ball comes faster, higher I just drive-loop it. If the ball is slower and lower I just loop it. For short balls, its harder but just watch the contact carefully.

Andrew Malone

Andrew Malone Posted 8 years ago

Thanks!! I will try this next time I play him!!

Andrew Malone

Andrew Malone Posted 8 years ago

Thanks!! I went to the club and was able to read most of the spin, making me successful in the match!! I didn't win, but I landed a ton of my smashes and did relatively well!!


Thanks a lot, Andrew 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Great to hear, Andrew.  Well done.

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