Downloadable books

Advanced Table Tennis Serve
(and advanced return of serve)

Master the advanced table tennis serve.
Improve your table tennis service technique and win more games.

Advanced table tennis serve

The advanced table tennis serve is one of the most important table tennis techniques you can master because it can give you a fantastic advantage at the start of a point.

However, before you can become proficient at the advanced serve, you'll need to ensure that you're using the correct table tennis grip, that you've mastered the four basic table tennis strokes, and that you've mastered the basic table tennis serve.

RECOMMENDED  TABLE  TENNIS  BOOK

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Table Tennis Service Secrets Discover the fastest way to improve your table tennis by 30%

Improving your service and return of service will add three points, or more, to every game you play.

Click here for more details

RECOMMENDED TABLE TENNIS BOOK

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Discover the fastest way to improve your table tennis by 30%

Improving your service and return of service will add three points, or more, to every game you play.

Click here for more details


^ Top of page ^


Advanced table tennis serve

The table tennis serve is the most important stroke in the game because it's the only time when you have total control over how and where you play the ball.

And an advanced table tennis serve can give you an even greater advantage over your opponent.

So if you really want to improve your game you'll need to have an array of advanced services that you can deploy. And with these services you'll need to be able to vary the spin, speed and direction of the ball.

And in order to do that, the use of the wrist is of paramount importance.


^ Top of page ^


1. Short backspin serve

The short backspin serve makes it difficult for your opponent to play an attacking stroke, so it can be an effective serve to use.

  1. Stand close to, and facing, the table and take a low stance. Keep your arm relaxed and your wrist loose.

  2. Throw the ball upwards, as near vertically as possible, so that it rises at least 16cm (6 inches) after leaving your hand.

  3. Allow the ball to drop and then, with a forward action, hit the ball with your racket - striking the ball on the descent with a fast wrist action and brushing underneath the ball - so that it imparts maximum backspin onto the ball.

  4. You should use as short a stroke as possible and keep your body movement to a minimum.

    You must ensure that the ball bounces on your side of the table and then goes over the net and bounces at least twice on your opponent's side of the table.

advanced table tennis service

By ensuring that the ball would bounce at least twice on your opponent's side of the table (if your opponent didn't strike it after the first bounce), you are limiting your opponent to playing a return with their racket over the table.

This usually results in a weaker return than a stroke they play away from the table with a full swing.

(Remember, if your opponent doesn't strike the ball before the second bounce, you win the point.)

 

My top table tennis technique:

This advanced table tennis serve would normally be used to limit your opponent's chances of attacking the ball. It also increases the chances of you getting a return that is long enough to attack.

Try to strike the ball on the bottom/back part with a fast wrist action to impart maximum backspin and ensure that the ball bounces on your side of the table close to the net as shown in the above diagram.

This advanced table tennis serve can easily be practiced alone with multi-ball practice (i.e. have several balls).


^ Top of page ^


2. Backhand sidespin serve

The short backhand sidespin service also limits your opponent's choice of stroke, so it will increase the chances of a weak return.

  1. Backhand sidespin service stance

    Stand close to, and facing, the table and take a low stance.

    Keep your arm relaxed and your wrist loose.

     



  2. Backhand sidespin service ball toss

    Throw the ball upwards, as near vertically as possible, so that it rises at least 16cm (6 inches) after leaving your hand.

     



  3. Backhand sidespin service action

    Allow the ball to drop and then, with a sideways and slightly forward action, hit the ball with your racket.

    Use as short a stroke as possible and keep your body movement to a minimum.

    Strike the ball with a fast wrist action on the back/middle part of the ball so that it imparts maximum sidespin onto the ball.




    ^ Top of page ^


    Let's see the backhand sidespin serve in action...

    Here are a few examples of a backhand sidespin serve by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus (red shirt) in a match against Wong Chun-Ting of Hong Kong China (black shirt).

    Both players are ranked in the top 10 of the world rankings.

    Notice how Samsonov's service sets up his third ball attack.

 


^ Top of page ^


3. Forehand high toss serve

The high toss service is favoured by some top players because the speed of the ball falling onto the racket helps to impart extra spin and speed onto the ball.

 

Forehand high toss serve from the backhand side

  1. Forehand high toss service

    Stand close to the table in your backhand corner.

    Keep your arm relaxed and your wrist loose.



  2. high toss service table tennis

    Throw the ball upwards, as near vertically as possible, so that it rises at least 60cm (24 inches) after leaving your hand.

    NB. You must ensure that your free arm and your body do not hide the ball at any time.



  3. high toss service table tennis

    Allow the ball to drop and then strike the ball using a fast, loose wrist action so that you impart maximum spin onto the ball.

    Use as short a stroke as possible and keep your body movement to a minimum.

    Your racket should strike the ball when it is about 15cm (6 inches) above the surface of the table, i.e. at the same height as the net.



  4. Use different stroke actions to produce variations in spin.



  5. high toss service table tennis

    Use your follow-through action to disguise the type of spin you've imparted onto the ball by moving the racket in a different direction to the direction used when you struck the ball.




    ^ Top of page ^


    Let's see the forehand high toss serve in action...

    Here are a few examples of the forehand high toss serve by Hugo Calderano of Brazil, in a match against Lin Gaoyuan of China.

    Both players are ranked in the top 20 of the world rankings.

    Watch how Hugo Calderano varies the spin on his service, keeping some services short whilst others are longer.

    Notice how Lin Gaoyuan has difficulty reading the spin and successfully returning the high toss serve, allowing Hugo Calderano to either win the point outright or have a strong follow up shot.

    NB. There is no sound on this video.

 

My top table tennis techniques:

This advanced table tennis serve would normally be used to stop the receiver from attacking - and when you want to attack the return of service, so it's one of the best table tennis techniques to master.

With this type of service, you can create many different subtle variations of spin. You can apply sidespin, together with either topspin or backspin - and keep your opponent guessing as to what type of service he'll receive.

By imparting sidespin on the ball, you can also encourage your opponent to return the ball to a specific area - which increases your chances of attacking the ball.

Generally you should try to keep the service short over the net to limit your opponent's chances of attacking the ball, but you should also vary the length, speed and direction of your service in order to unsettle your opponent.

  1. A long fast service may be produced using a slightly closed bat angle. The ball should make contact with the table within the first third on your side.

  2. A short, relatively slow service may be produced using an open bat angle. The ball should make contact with the table around two thirds of the way down your half.

  3. A particularly effective short service is one in which the second bounce on your opponent's side of the table (if the ball is not struck by your opponent) is at or very near the end line of the table.

advanced table tennis service

RECOMMENDED  TABLE  TENNIS  BOOK

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Table Tennis Service Secrets Discover the fastest way to improve your table tennis by 30%

Improving your service and return of service will add three points, or more, to every game you play.

Click here for more details

RECOMMENDED TABLE TENNIS BOOK

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Discover the fastest way to improve your table tennis by 30%

Improving your service and return of service will add three points, or more, to every game you play.

Click here for more details


^ Top of page ^


Advanced service return

Once you've mastered the basic push and drive strokes to return service, you should move on to mastering a variety of positive, rather than passive, returns.

Many of the top players will serve short over the net to limit their opponent playing strong attacking return strokes.

So you'll need to master how to return short services with a variety of different returns.


^ Top of page ^


1. The short push return

The short push return makes it difficult for your opponent to play the first attacking stroke in a rally, so it can be an effective return stroke to play.

  1. Stand very close to, and facing, the table and take a low stance.

  2. Keep your arm relaxed and your wrist loose. Your free arm should point towards the ball to assist with your balance.

  3. Lean over the table and, using a very short stroke, hit the ball before it reaches the top of the bounce.

    My top table tennis techniques:

    The purpose of this return stroke is to stop your opponent from playing an attacking stroke, so you should try to make sure that your stroke is also played short over the net.

    You should ensure that the ball would bounce at least twice on your opponent's side of the table.


    ^ Top of page ^


    Let's see the short push return in action...

    Here's an example of the perfect short push return by Xu Xin of China (black shirt) in a match against Fan Zhendong of China (red shirt).

    Both players are ranked in the top 5 of the world rankings, and they've both been world number one.

    In this example, Xu Xin wins the point outright with his short push return.

    Notice how his return was the perfect length because it bounced a second time very close to the end line.

    By returning the serve to this perfect length, his opponent (Fan Zhendong) had to make a quick decision - would the ball drift beyond the end line and therefore be long enough for him to loop the ball, or would it would stay over the table and require a different stroke.

    As you can see, Fan Zhendong guessed that the ball would drift long and he attempted to play a topspin stroke behind the end line of the table - but he guessed wrong and the ball bounced twice on his side of the table which meant he lost the point.

    NB. There is no sound on this video.

 


^ Top of page ^


2. The fast attacking push return

Use the same technique as the short push (above), but use a fast wrist action to push the ball deep and fast.

My top table tennis techniques:

Aim your shot into the crossover point (the crossover point is the area in which the player has no obvious choice of forehand or backhand. For a right handed player, the crossover point is roughly in line with the right hip) or play it wide.


^ Top of page ^


3. The forehand flick (flip) return

Whilst the push shot uses an open racket, the forehand flick (sometimes called a flip) uses a closed racket.

The technique used is the same but you hit over the back or top of ball, using a loose wrist action.

Whilst this stroke can be used to return a short service, it can also be used during a rally.

If your opponent plays a return short over the net, there is often an opportunity to play a forehand flick stroke.

table tennis flick


^ Top of page ^


Here's a demonstration of the forehand flick.

(If you have problems with the sound, there are captions/subtitles that you can turn on. Just click on the captions/subtitles button)

Here's a demonstration of the forehand flick.

(If you have problems with the sound, there are captions/subtitles that you can turn on. Just click on the captions/subtitles button)

RECOMMENDED  TABLE  TENNIS  BOOK

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Table Tennis Service Secrets Discover the fastest way to improve your table tennis by 30%

Improving your service and return of service will add three points, or more, to every game you play.

Click here for more details

RECOMMENDED TABLE TENNIS BOOK

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Table Tennis Service Secrets

Discover the fastest way to improve your table tennis by 30%

Improving your service and return of service will add three points, or more, to every game you play.

Click here for more details


^ Top of page ^


Let's now see the forehand flick in action

Example 1

Here's an example of the forehand flick return by Zhou Yu of China (black shirt), in a match against Xu Xin of China (red shirt).

Xu Xin is ranked in the top 5 of the world rankings and previously a world number one.

In this example, Zhou Yu wins the point outright with his forehand flick return.

Watch how he steps forward and makes contact with the ball at the top of the bounce, keeping his racket open until just before he strikes the ball.

NB. There is no sound on this video.


^ Top of page ^


Example 2

In this example, Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan (black shirt) plays a forehand flick on the third ball of the rally. Even though it was very well played, he didn't win the point because his opponent (Hugo Calderano of Brazil) anticipated the flick and counteracted with a strong attacking stroke.

Both players are in the top 15 of the world rankings.

Watch how Harimoto steps forward and makes contact with the ball at the top of the bounce, keeping his racket open until just before he strikes the ball.

However, Calderano plays a fantastic counter-attack to win the point.

NB. There is no sound on this video.


^ Top of page ^


Example 3

In this example, Hugo Calderano of Brazil (blue shirt) plays a forehand flick on the third ball of the rally, in a match against Fan Zhendong of China (red shirt).

Fan Zhendong is the world number one.

In this example, Hugo Calderano wins the point outright with his forehand flick.

Watch how he steps forward and makes contact with the ball at the top of the bounce, keeping his racket open until just before he strikes the ball.

NB. There is no sound on this video.


^ Top of page ^


4. The new backhand flick return

Around 2010, the top Chinese players introduced a variation to the traditional backhand flick return of service.

Some people have named it "the banana shot" because of the trajectory that the racket takes to play the stroke.

Whereas the traditional backhand flick return imparts mainly topspin, this new innovation, "the banana shot" imparts mainly sidespin.

To play the traditional backhand flick return you need to play a forward and upward brushing action on the back of the ball in order to impart topspin, whereas the new "banana shot" requires you to brush around the side of the ball to impart sidespin.

However, this stroke takes a lot of practice before you can deploy it successfully in a match.

 

Here's a demonstration of the traditional backhand flick return.

(If you have problems with the sound, there are captions/subtitles that you can turn on. Just click on the captions/subtitles button)

Here's a demonstrations of the traditional backhand flick return.

(If you have problems with the sound, there are captions/subtitles that you can turn on. Just click on the captions/subtitles button)

 

However, the new backhand flick, "the banana shot" although being invented by the Chinese, is now being used by players from all countries.

In many cases, this "banana" stroke will win the point outright, but not always.


^ Top of page ^


Let's see the new backhand flick (banana shot) in action

Example 1

Here are three examples of the backhand banana flick return played by Fan Zhendong of China (red shirt) in a match against Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan (blue shirt).

Both players are ranked in the top 12 of the world rankings.

In these three examples, Fan Zhendong wins the point outright with his backhand banana flick return on two occasions.

Watch how the elbow is kept high whilst the wrist turns the racket extremely fast from left to right, brushing around the side of the ball to impart sidespin. There is also a fast forward motion with the racket.

You will also notice that Fan Zhendong plays the stroke from different places over the table.

Traditionally you would only play a backhand flick from the backhand side of the table, but the top players now deploy the "banana shot" from anywhere on the table, although it is usually only against short services.

NB. There is no sound on this video.


^ Top of page ^


 

Example 2

Here are four examples of the backhand banana flick return played by Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan (blue shirt) in a match against Fan Zhendong of China (red shirt).

Both players are ranked in the top 12 of the world rankings.

In these four examples, Harimoto wins the point outright on one occasion and sets up a winning point on two more.

Watch how the elbow is kept high whilst the wrist turns the racket extremely fast from left to right, brushing around the side of the ball to impart sidespin. There is also a fast forward motion with the racket.

You will also notice that Harimoto plays the stroke from different places over the table.

Traditionally you would only play a backhand flick from the backhand side of the table, but the top players now deploy the "banana shot" from anywhere on the table, although it is usually only against short services.

NB. There is no sound on this video.


^ Top of page ^


 

 

Great deals at Amazon.com
MORE PAGES ABOUT
HOW TO PLAY TABLE TENNIS
For more information on how to play table tennis and improve your game, take a look at my other tips and techniques articles...

Basic Skills

And watch these video demonstrations...

 

Advanced Skills

 

Strategies and Tactics

 

Tips

 

Skill Tests

 

Exercises

 

E-Books

 

Personal Coaching

 


^ Top of page ^


Claim Your FREE Membership

and Join the TOP TABLE

Claim Your FREE Membership

And get Exclusive Information via Email from
AllAboutTableTennis.com

Tips •  Strategies •  Techniques •  Tactics
Rules •  Equipment •  Coaching •  News & much more

Enter your details here

First Name

Email address

We respect your privacy

Join me at the Top Table Join me at the Top Table

Claim Your FREE Membership and Join the TOP TABLE

And get Exclusive Information via Email AllAboutTableTennis

Tips
Strategies
Techniques
Tactics
Rules
Equipment
Coaching
News & much more

Enter your details here

First Name

Email address

We respect your privacy