Returning serves that are fast to my backhand

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 8 years ago

Filippo Rotunno

Filippo Rotunno Asked 11 years ago

Dear Alois and Jeff

I am a 40% average premier division player. I am always been vulnerable to forehand services played long and spinny to my backhand. I always seem to pop the ball up for the opponent to loop strongly or even to smash. I have tried different approaches from standing away and taking the ball late with some backspin or taking it early but bar for some exceptions the result is most of the time unfavourable to me. Placement is also important. I have tried wide to forehand, middle or deep into their backhand but to no avail. Control is not easy when the ball comes fast and spinny towards you.

What is your suggestion? What should I practice on? Is a backspin or topspin return best?

Kind regards


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Answered 11 years ago

Hi Filippo,

A long fast serve into the backhand can be a very effective serve. Unless you are a chopper, the most effective return would be to topspin the ball. To do this you really need to work hard at making your backhand more consistent. especially the topspin. You could try using some of the exercises from the consistency lessons we presented in the first weeks of the master class training plan.

The reason a topspin return is best is because it puts the server under pressure immediately. Imagine if you were the server and someone made a good topspin return. It is harder to deal with then if they just push or block the ball back.

To help you out against the serve, I think it would be best to set aside some time to practice this specifically. Get someone to serve a long and fast topspin sidespin serve into your backhand over and over. You can stop the rally straight after your return and have them serve the ball again. This way you can practice the shot a hundred times very quickly. Against the topspin sidespin serve the key is to not worry about lifting the ball, you don't need to because the topspin will kick up off your bat. You still need to brush the ball to generate your own topspin so you will need to close the angle of your racket. So think about hitting the ball forward rather than up by brushing the top of the ball.

After a while ask your partner to serve a similar serve but this time with backspin and sidespin. Again have them serve the same serve over and over. Now that the ball has backspin you need to practice brushing up the back of the ball to lift the backspin. The stroke will become more vertical. However the brushing action is still very important.

The next step would be to get different serves mixed up and practice returning them. To begin with don't worry too much about your placement, just focus on getting a good topspin return. When you can do this consistently then you can start to focus on your placement.

One other tip is to really commit to the stroke. If you play the stroke passively then you won't swing the bat fast enough to generate lots of topspin and the effect of their spin will be greater. So swing through fast and really brush the ball.

Let me know if this helps you out.

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Dep Dep

Dep Dep Posted 9 years ago

Excellent Tips!!

Earl Joseph

Earl Joseph Posted 9 years ago

Could you make a free video sir on this, sir? Practically seeing is far better than reading. please?

pralhad g

pralhad g Posted 9 years ago

Thank you very much sir.

I have decent back hand topspin stroke.Today i have doing some drills as explained by you. Result is amazing.

Thank you once again.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

It is a pleasure Pralhad.  Well done on making the improvements.

ujjval verma

ujjval verma Posted 8 years ago

Alois... I salute you by my heart. I have followed your instruction and this has taken my game to next level. This one stroke was holding me back for years. Thanks to you... a million thanks. My game has become different instantly in 1-2 days practice. Now I am focusing to practice this shot even more as it gives me way to reply all my backhand strokes (in addition to replying a serve).


You are the boss !!!

Thanks again !

Laurence Hughes

Laurence Hughes Posted 8 years ago

This is good advice. I'm having the same issue of struggling against fast, low sidespin serves deep to my backhand and am going to try out the tips.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Let us know how it goes Laurence.

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