Single bounce or risk of net

Table Tennis Serving

Last updated 9 years ago

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Asked 9 years ago

Dear Alois

I have been training for a long time on a pendulum serve, diagonal with mostly backspin, with double bounce or more. Let's say I've done 10 sessions of 100 serves each. The results are converging to a 80% success rate, about 15% into the net and 5% single bounce. Here's a summary of the technique I'm using:

  1. toss about man's height
  2. good backswing
  3. contact at net height
  4. contact with tip of bat
  5. swing through with wrist action
  6. aim for first bounce close to the net

I can decrease the rate of the ball going into the net by increasing the contact height. This will however automatically increase the single bounce rate - they seem to be communicating vessels. I can make it bounce 3 times or even return by increasing the backswing and refining the contact point, but it will increase my net failure rate.

A 80% success rate makes me wary of using the technique in matches, where I will invariably make contact higher and less brushing, resulting in a pushy short ball without much spin.

How to improve the numbers and restore confidence so that I can use the same serve in matches?

Thanks a lot.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Dieter,

You can start to hit the ball more directly into your side of the table, closer to you and also faster.  Still focus on the contact being a fine brush at the bottom of the ball.

It just takes time to get these fine skills right and to a level where you are confident to use it in a tight match.

You are at the early stages of getting the feel of generating backspin.  Now you need to progress to a more match type of serve.  You can still use the slower serve sometimes in a match where the ball bounces closer to the net but in general try to get the ball bouncing closer to you.

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Thoughts on this question

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 9 years ago

Hi Dieter and Alois,

While I understand and agree that hitting harder and closer to your end line will give more more spin and speed, it still somehow feels contradictory with the second main goal of a short serve, which is to bounce as low as possible on the opponent's side, to forbid as much as possible any direct attack. This would be much easier to draw than to write, but as the trajectory after the first bounce has more or less a bell shape, hitting it close to the end line, getting it over the net and still keeping it short means that the top of the curve, and accordingly the next bounce, will have to be quite high.

This may be an extreme ant atypical example, but when you look at Ma Lin's "ghost serve", the first bounce is always at least on the middle of the table, if not closer to the net (this can be seen very well on the very first serve of this video:

Or are we saying that faster short serves (hit close to the server's end line), even with a higher bounce on the opponent's side, are still more efficient than lower bouncing but slower and less spiny short serves (hit closer to the net on the server's side)?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Jean,

The bounce closer to the net makes the serve a lot slower.  The faster short serves do hit closer to your own end line.

I suspect that Ma Lin in that famous video is serving with softer training balls that have a much better capacity to come back fast.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

To add to that Jean, the serve that bounces closer to your end line and just skims the net can still bounce twice but may be deeper on the table than the short serve in the famous Ma Lin video, and bounces deeper for the second bounce makes it harder to return short. So a short fast serve I think is the best type of short serve (as Alois said a slower serve can be good for variation). Try it out and let me know if it works for you.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 9 years ago

Indeed, I've observed at top level the serves are "half long" as they call it in our club, meaning the 2nd bounce at their end is close to the edge of the table. This is also what our club coaches advocate.
So perhaps I should continue practicing slow spinny serves with triple bounce or more, merely to gauge the amount of spin I'm able to generate, but eventually moving to the half long serves, with the highest amount of spin possible.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

That sounds like a good plan Dieter.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 9 years ago

Today I implemented a serve with a closer first bounce adid 100 serves. The % of netted balls remained around 15%. The double bounce or more dropped from 80-85% to below 70, in favour of single bounce going up to 15%.

There are a few things I've noticed:

- when I get into a rhythm I start netting the ball; when I concentrate, espcially on the swing through, there is enough speed and spin on the ball to make it bounce twice

- in general there is not so much spin on the ball, so I may have been successful in double bounce because of the slow speed of the ball and not due to the spin

So, should I go back to the table and first try to get in a really spinny serve (with double bounce if it happens) and only then drilling it by doing the metrics?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Dieter,

Once you can get the feel of the contact, try to do the serve with the bounce closer to you.  Then focus on getting your bat moving faster to generate the spin.  By combining the two things of brushing contact and speed of the racket and then getting the ball to bounce in exactly the right spot on your side you will get a good spin serve.  It will take time, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen straight away.

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