Development of an Outrageously Great Spin Serve
(By Larry Hodges)
Here are six steps to doing so!
- Spin and catch. Practice tossing the ball up, spinning it with your paddle, and catching it. Do this over and over, in various ways with different spins, until you can put an outrageous amount of spin on the ball, with different types of spins.
- Spin the serve. Now do the same thing at the table, where you focus, again, on putting outrageous amounts of spin on the ball. Don’t worry at first about serving legal or low, just get lots of spin on the ball. As you get better, make sure you are doing so legally (especially the six-inch toss) and low to the net.
- Spin with variations. Now that you can serve with outrageous spin, learn to do different variations. Try serving with backspin, side-backspin, sidespin, side-topspin, and topspin. And don’t forget one of the great serves of table tennis – fake that outrageous spin, but contact the ball near the handle with a stiff wrist so there’s no spin, and then exaggerate the wrist and arm motion aftercontact – i.e. “heavy no-spin.”
- Spin with semi-circular deception. Now is where you add real deception. Use a semi-circular motion in your serve. For example, for a forehand pendulum serve (i.e. racket tip down), start with a downward motion, then go sideways, and then up, all in a smooth semi-circular motion. Depending on where you contact the ball in this semi-circle, you’ll get different spins. If on the down, backspin. If on the sideways part, sidespin. If on the upward part, topspin. Plus the in between spins – if you contact on the ball as the racket moves down and sideways, you get sidespin-backspin. If you contact the ball on the sideways and up part, you get sidespin-topspin – which tends to be trickier to learn with this particular serve, but comes with practice.
- Spin with quick, deception motion. Now that you can serve all sorts of different outrageous spins with a semicircular motion, it’s time to shorten and speed up the motion. By making it shorter and quicker, it’s harder for the opponent to read what direction the racket was moving at contact. And then, just after contact, move the racket in a different direction, further throwing off the receiver.
Perfect these steps, and you too can have an outrageously great spin serve, with great spin and deception – and with practice, there’s no reason why you can’t do this as well as the pros.