Don't Use a Plain Topspin Serve

Table Tennis Serving

Last updated 6 years ago

Yacine Chafra

Yacine Chafra Asked 10 years ago

Dear Coaches,

Why haven't I seen any professional players use topspin serves?

Have you ever seen any professional players use a topspin serve? Who?

Is a topspin serve effective? Why or why not?

Hope I didn't give too many questions.

Thanks a million 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Yacine,

If you use a straight topspin serve against a better player they will attack it very fast and put you on the defensive or hit a clean winner.  It is impossible to hit a fast enough topspin serve against a good player and get a good result.

That is why most players will serve backspin and short most of the time. 

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Thoughts on this question

mat huang

mat huang Posted 9 years ago

I actually think that straight topspin will still be effective. In the match between ma long and yan'an straight topspin down the line got a free point. To bh is also pretty effective. But most top players use very spinny topspin side serve so people think it is backspin

Very good Vid! Thanks

Michael Caldwell

Michael Caldwell Posted 9 years ago

I would love to be able to see these and other serve related videos in super slow motion.

Marcus Anbau

Marcus Anbau Posted 9 years ago

Yeah a topspin serve down the line can be effective, JOW caught many opponents off guard that way, but serving it  to opponets side is extremely dangerous vs better players, they can pivot easily.

I regurlarly train JOW serve to surprise opponents. One serve is bh side/backspin long and short and the other with as lonmg as identical movement ts fast down the line. It works often.

Aasim Showkat

Aasim Showkat Posted 9 years ago

O Boy...Jeff Has got the Moves

eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 9 years ago

Hello you all. Allow me to disagree about a straight topspin serve from Ma Long. I believe that, although it is a sudden and a very fast serve it is actually an underspin serve. You can watch Waldner in some videos doing that same serve every once in a while with success. I saw a young japanese  player doing a super fast topspin "tomahawk"serve in a video. But when you see him (not sure his name is Asuka Sakai) playing in real matches he never uses that serve.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Eduardo,

You raise a very good point. If you can disguise your fast serve and mix it up well with your other serves it can be very effective.

Antonio Marquez

Antonio Marquez Posted 8 years ago

I use sidespin and backspin serves more than topspin serves.

eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 8 years ago

Hello, Pingskillers of the world! Here is more or less how I see it. First your serve has to be legal and, at least "secure". Meaning you don't want to give away a point out of your own service nor give your opponent an easy opportunity. This basic considerations will restrict your possibilities a great deal. Those "easy opportunities" will be even more restricting against a better player. So the better you get, the better the opponents you will dare to play and the better your services will have to be against them. I have seen that a plain fast topspin service can easily be turned against you for even though is aimed to win a cheap point, it is also an invitation for a topspin return that will be much better than your service because it only has to bounce directly on your side over the net (instead of bouncing twice like in a service) I do a lot of topspin services (if I play a game) just to challenge my opponents to do my game. But if you happen to be ranked among the first 100, would you dare to risk a point in an important match?  


Gilbert Christensen

Gilbert Christensen Posted 8 years ago

good idea with the short topspin serve. Should try this variation to surprise my opponents. But it looks like difficult for me to play these topspin serve so good and short.

eduardo espinosa

eduardo espinosa Posted 8 years ago

Hello again pingskillers! What Christensen says is exactly what I mean...literally with a twist!  It's actually a side-top spin. It's from the b/h right in front of your opponent to see. It has to be short, about 2 bounces on the other side (the more inconsistent the better) but always w/ as much spin as you can get. It helps if you are a p-hold and leftie, but if you can see the principles you will perform whatever your style. It's impossible to make a straight top spin so you have to mix w/ side spin which is actually better: The serve should look slow, kind of high and bouncing sideways. The return should be long to your f/h. usually high and, frequently, w/. lots of under-spin, so beware. P.S. Not recommendable against long pips.

Richard Lieberman

Richard Lieberman Posted 6 years ago

In the world of 'garage players"  topspin can be effective.  After several backspin serves,  i can throw in a top spin,

and the opponent often hits it long, since they are used to compensating for the back spin.  I do agree that a better player will not be so fooled

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Hi Richard,

Great to see you are thinking tactically and trying different serves against different levels of players. It certainly is true that long serves in general are more effective against lower rated players.


D K Posted 6 years ago

Much more effective than short serves,at my level.

The reason is that they are always trained against the short serves.

Leading group of teams are alwys long servers,in lower leagues

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