Receiving very (yes very) fast long services

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 5 months ago

knarf ... from France

knarf ... from France Asked 8 months ago

Dear Coach,

Thanks for your help (and your indulgence on my writing, as English is not may mother tongue): I used to play against a player who serves very fast and long (slightly topspin, but not that much). He generally serves either in diagonal (from his right angle of the table, to my right angle) or parallel to the table (from his right angle to my left angle). The ball is very fast and long bouncing very near my edge of the table.

I have no time to do anything, but try a block. But the ball is so strong and fast that most of the time the ball bounces on my bat and goes outside of the table (this is why I think there is some topspin effect).  I tried to angle down as much as possible my bat, but the ball still goes too far away (I mean, 5 to 10 cm too long). And if I angle it down more, then the ball hits the edge of my bat.

I tried to topspin, but cannot do the full movement, as the ball has already gone beyond my bat. Same if I want to chop it. Or generally the ball goes back up and I finish with a smash on the third ball...

So, how can I return such services?

Thanks very much for your advice.

(French) knarf

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 7 months ago

Hi Knarf,

The fast serve can be blocked or you can put a little topspin back on the ball.  You don't need to do a full topspin stroke but just a small topspin action on the block to get the ball back down onto the table.

The other thing that will help is to have a more relaxed hand.  This will absorb the power on the ball.

Think mainly about the direction of your return.  Try to put the ball into a difficult place for you opponent.

Glad you are enjoying the site and that we able to help.

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Thoughts on this question

John Kao

John Kao Posted 7 months ago

Hi Knarf,

Sometimes, when the ball is travelling very fast, it will generate a little topspin by itself due to its half-rolling-half-bouncing movement on the table. So if you see a quick-serve, close your bat angle a little bit to counter the topspin even though your opponent did not generate it :)

knarf ... from France

knarf ... from France Posted 7 months ago

Hi Rosario,

Thanks for your answer. I feel that I'll try to return with a relaxed hand, as if I was absorbing the speed. I trust I did it sometimes without being aware of it. And it worked. At least, the ball came back on the table... ;o) But now that you mentioned this point, I'll try to do it "consciously". For the small topspin effect, it should come on a second time probably... I'll let you know.

John Kao, thanks for your explanation. Yes, it is surely the case: the rotation comes from the speed when the ball bounces on the table and does like a topspin. The problem is that I tried to lower the angle of the bat, as you said, but the difference  between: the ball hits the bat and "flies" beyond the table of the opponent,  and, the ball hits the edge of the bat is very thin. I trust less than 0.5°.

So, I will work on the "relaxed" hand and then, once I can return, work on a small topspin to surprise my opponent. 

Thanks for your kind support, 

All the best 


knarf ... from France

knarf ... from France Posted 5 months ago

Dear all,
Just a quick return after our exchanges one month ago. Once again, thanks for your advices.
I must say that I quite improved my returns. My opponent is also now less sure to win the point on the serves as he used to do. So now he is less confident against me and tries other serves, but with less efficiency.
I first change a little bit my position. I slightly step back from the table (maybe 30, max 40 cm). It helped me to avoid to just make a block against the served ball, but have a bit more time to make a small move with the bat (with a relaxed hand), either light topspin or backspin.
I also could change the length of the return. Sometimes long, or shorter. Then pushing him to be less efficient on the 3rd ball.
If my return is long, I then step back a little bit again (as shown  in your video Counter Topspin from Mid Distance). I could then counterattack and play my game.
If my return is short, he then usually has to lift up the ball, generally a bit higher than he would like, and then I can smash it, or put my opponent  in a difficult situation.
I do not say that I can do it everytime,  but at least, I am less in difficulty against his fast serves.
Thanks again for your kind help,
All the best

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 5 months ago

Great news Knarf.  Well done on making the changes and improvements.

knarf ... from France

knarf ... from France Posted 5 months ago

Thanks for the support.

I wish you and Jeff, all the best for this New Year. Long live PingSkills!

Kind regards, 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 5 months ago

Thanks Knarf. 

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