Returning short spinny serves to my forehand

Table Tennis Service Return

Last updated 10 years ago

Andrew Pape

Andrew Pape Asked 10 years ago

Hi Alois,

An opponent served me off with high-toss forehand pendulum serves that landed a bit shorter than mid-length. The serves had heavy topspin and I couldn't get a swing at them. Push/chopping no go, as too much topspin. 3rd ball attack killed me.

I watched my coach. His opponent was doing much the same thing, generating incredible amount of top&side and making the ball even shorter than my opponent had. They were too short for him and he botched them up. He got a bat to the ball, but couldn't swing, and the ball flew high and off the side of the table.

Last night's opponent served me off with another variation of high toss forehand pendulum serve. The serves were again too short to hit. When I misread the topspin, I pushed and the ball went straight up, about table height. My opponent killed it. He did this repeatedly. I decided I've got to swing. When I tried this, he served short but with backspin, and it was so heavy that the ball was dragged backwards almost, so I only just got bat to ball and then the ball fell into the net.

I've noticed that top players have the same problem. e.g. William H. can't tell if Wang Liqin's short serve to f/hand is top or back-spin. And I saw Rosskopf killed my Chen Qi. Chen served with heavy top-spin f/hand tomahawks, Rosskopf guessed backspin and lifted them back, and did this time after time, losing every point. Also, I have seen Ma Lin's Chinese Super-League opponents having no idea what spins he's getting, despite them being world-class.

I cannot picture how these short serves can be returned. I've thought of Ma Lin standing left of  the backhand corner to receive, and I wonder how he would treat short and funny spins wide to his f/hand.



Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 10 years ago

Hi Andrew,

If the ball is short with topspin the best solution is probably to flick the ball.  If you are not picking the spin on the serve then it is a bigger problem.

To make the flick off a topspin make sure you get close to the ball with your nose and make the stroke.

Take a look at the lesson on the Forehand Flick again.  Perhaps don't try to do too much with the return, just roll it back at first to get the feel of it and then work from there.

If the serve has backspin then you can push it but trying to push a short topspin serve is always difficult.

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Andrew Pape

Andrew Pape Posted 10 years ago

Hi Jeff,
Alois referred me to your video on flipping. I didn't realise that I needed to flip in order to return short spinny serves and stay in the rally.

It was great watching your video demo when you knew what spin was coming. I'm just wondering what happens if you're playing someone like Wang Liqin, when you might not know the spin?

In that case you may not have the confidence? A book says to scrub spin off by either hitting or using more spin. I've heard about different types of flips depending on what spin you get, but if you don't know the spin is there a certain type of flip that would at least get you into the rally? or give you some chance? I realise the odds are against you if you can't pick the spin.



Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 10 years ago

Hey Andrew,

If I don't know the spin that is on the ball then I tend to try and play it safe and try to put a lot of backspin on the ball. I figure that if I can keep the ball on the table and make it hard for them to topspin at least I'm still in the rally. The other thing I might do is actually try and hit the flick quite forcefully and if you get it wrong you'll miss but if you just play a very soft flick you're probably making it easy for your opponent to attack anyway.
So basically the key is to get better at reading the spin!

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