Last updated 7 years ago
i have not been exposed to any organized table tennis but love to play. my son is getting interested and ask questions i do not know the answer or reason. as backyard players, we just throw the ball up to serve it as if it was a standard swinging position. we watched the olympics and it is obvious that serves have a lot more technique than imagined. what is the point of a high ball toss and hitting the ball so close to the body for a serve. why does it look so strange compared to a novice.
The rules actually state that you need to throw the ball up at least 6 inches. Some players actually throw the ball up very high and this helps them generate more spin on their serves. As the ball is coming down faster after falling further they can impart more spin.
The most common serve in high level table tennis is the pendulum serve and this is probably the one you are referring to as it does look quite strange if you haven't seen it before. By hitting the ball quite close to the body, the server can vary the spin a lot without changing the action of the service very much. It is subtle variations of spin which make the serve hard to return. If you can make your opponent misread the spin on your serve, they might not make the return at all or they might return the ball higher making your next shot much easier.
Take a look at this video answer to a question that talks about service variations. The question was titled No spin serve.
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