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Medax
09-27-2017, 10:40 AM
Hi All,

hoping you can help me out ?

I played a match last night against a team almost 2 divisions above my normal standard and an interesting comment came out of the matches I played about my service.

To cut a long story short, the one I am interested in was this....


your position and posture is ok , however your blade speed needs to be sharper so as to improve the amount of spin .
this is also about timing and may need practise


So I understand the timing and practice, but the one that intrigued me was about the speed being sharper. I messaged the guy back and it essentially came down to "faster".

So my question is this....

Can anyone give me pointers on how to achieve this ?
How do I break down my service to its component parts so that I get the speed I am recommended without sacrificing the control and timing too much or is that trying to over analyse?

videos, links and all comments welcome :)

Thanks in advance.

TableTennisTom
09-27-2017, 10:56 AM
Ok, so what the player said to you is good advice.

Basically, if you can increase your racket speed, whilst brushing the ball, you will generate a lot more spin. The key thing here is “brushing the ball”. If you increase your racket speed and don’t brush the ball, your serves will be flat, long serves (this can also be effective against some players). If you want to generate more spin, you need racket speed and a brushing contact.

So how do you so this?

You should keep your wrist, elbow and shoulder relaxed. This will allow you to serve without tension. If you are relaxed, you can use your wrist to whip the ball (fast racket speed and brush). This will work for any spin – backspin, sidespin, topspin. You can serve short, half-long, long.

The only way you will get any good is a lot of practice. I’m talking lots and lots of hours here (here’s my blog post on solo service practice: http://www.tabletenniscoach.me.uk/improve-serves-solo-service-practice/). I recommend getting a box of balls and just experiment. Don’t go crazy to begin with. Just try to get a bit more racket speed (and brush) than you get at the moment. I think it’s quite good to start with sidespin serves as you can really see the ball spinning and kicking off the table sideways.

Key point is to stay loose, use your wrist like a whip and brush the ball.

Thomas Jeffcott
09-27-2017, 12:11 PM
I agree with everything Table Tennis Tom has said. Another thought is maybe record a video of you serving your basic serves a few times each, put the video on YouTube and then we can critique you more specifically.

talbon
09-27-2017, 02:40 PM
How do I break down my service to its component parts so that I get the speed I am recommended without sacrificing the control and timing too much or is that trying to over analyse?
Yes it probably will end up as over-analysing. If you acknowledge that your current serve action does not produce what you want, the best attitude is to be willing to change it. Many people have serve actions with all sorts of weird moves which came to be in an haphazard manner, then the serve action became exaggeratedly rigid, like a ritual, due to years of habit and fear/tension when competing. Nobody can make significant progress under such conditions, because the useless fluff is in the way of doing the correct action to obtain spin or deception.

The key to improve your serve is to experiment, to quickly break your bad habits and allow yourself to explore alternatives. So just sit alone at the table and try out different stuff. Get out of your comfort zone. At some point something is going to click, then you can focus on it, refine and practice it.

For instance, how do you practice putting more spin on an underspin serve? If you start worrying about integrating it in your current serve action, you will never make significant progress. Instead, just start by cutting under the ball. Minimalistic serve action, just a plain cut. See what spin is produced. Then start to experiment. Change the bat angle, change the timing, change the toss, change the amount of wrist, add body rotation, etc. Take note of what seems to consistently produce more spin. There, you have it. Now add some fluff around it, a simple action that allows you to cut the ball in that specific manner. In fact, the choice of action won't be arbitrary. Go with something that allows you to comfortably do some variation that will result in different spin (for instance no-spin or topspin).

So keep exploring. Give it time, you will gradually improve your feel/touch up to the point where you consistently do stuff that seemed way beyond reach for you at first.

You will definitely figure out by yourself the technicalities to increase the spin on your serve if you really try. There are many factors in doing so, such as: racket acceleration, timing, how much you graze or hit the ball (flat, brushing, "over-"brushing?), how tightly you grip the bat, the racket angle, the height of the toss, the use of joints (shoulder? elbow? wrist often) and the body rotation. The wrist has many degrees of freedom so it's not only about "speed" in the wrist action, for instance you can cock/uncock the wrist or not. I don't think people consciously vary more than a couple of aspects for any given serve.

Also, watch videos of good professional players serving (or matches), to keep exposing yourself to new ideas and cleaner serve actions. For example Werner Schlager, Jan-Ove Waldner, Ma Long for a range of very effective twists on somewhat traditional serves. For less widespread serve actions: Par Gerell or Koki Niwa come to mind, as there are definitely videos of them lying around. A couple of samples: youtu.be/7qpJxzQTeBQ youtu.be/E172K7RfOO4 youtu.be/ldheZbxGWlQ youtu.be/PD02s8uTSzw

UpSideDownCarl
09-27-2017, 04:37 PM
The comments from Tom and Thomas are both important.

But this sounds like it has Brett Clarke written all over it. He does a good job of teaching how to get whip mechanics in most of his videos.


https://youtu.be/yCeR7L_OkfI


https://youtu.be/V553uldm29w


https://youtu.be/ooOY8AqK60c


https://youtu.be/cDeVY83yRC4

He is a bit eccentric. But it is good info to help a mid level player learn how to improve the technique and get whip mechanics into the stroke.

He shows this for FH and BH in other videos. For a high level player this may make you cringe. But it really helps people who are not implementing whip mechanics to learn why and how to start.


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ttmonster
09-27-2017, 04:42 PM
@NextLevel has posted a ton of material on this stuff ... hopefully he can come over here and help you out with some insights ... mean while those brett videos are worth their weight in gold !

UpSideDownCarl
09-27-2017, 04:51 PM
@NextLevel has posted a ton of material on this stuff ... hopefully he can come over here and help you out with some insights ... mean while those brett videos are worth their weight in gold !

They allow you to put the info TTTom presented into action while helping you understand how to develop whip mechanics that seems so elusive for a decent mid-level player.


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Andy44
09-27-2017, 06:01 PM
Add my vote to the Brett Clarke videos. Focus on one serve/spin at a time. Don't rush and don't get frustrated; think in terms of weeks to months of daily practice before you have a competition-ready serve. The really hard part, much more so than the mechanics, is the timing. Brush-contacting a falling ball with high-speed whip action is way beyond the ability of the conscious mind to control. You just have to train your unconscious mind to do it for you, and this can take dozens of hours of practice. Definitely worth it, though. For raising the level of your game, it may be the single most useful thing you can do.

Medax
09-28-2017, 08:42 AM
I love this site , TTDaily users to the rescue once again :)


Originally Posted by TableTennisTom
Basically, if you can increase your racket speed, whilst brushing the ball, you will generate a lot more spin. The key thing here is “brushing the ball”. If you increase your racket speed and don’t brush the ball, your serves will be flat, long serves (this can also be effective against some players). If you want to generate more spin, you need racket speed and a brushing contact.

So how do you so this?

You should keep your wrist, elbow and shoulder relaxed. This will allow you to serve without tension. If you are relaxed, you can use your wrist to whip the ball (fast racket speed and brush). This will work for any spin – backspin, sidespin, topspin. You can serve short, half-long, long.

Just what I was looking for to start with, this I will try during warm up's and breaks mid matches over the coming weeks :)


Originally posted by Thomas Jeffcott
I agree with everything Table Tennis Tom has said. Another thought is maybe record a video of you serving your basic serves a few times each, put the video on YouTube and then we can critique you more specifically.

Probably a good idea, but a) don't have the equipment for this and b) I don't think I could take the ridicule ;):D


Originally posted by talbon
The key to improve your serve is to experiment, to quickly break your bad habits and allow yourself to explore alternatives. So just sit alone at the table and try out different stuff. Get out of your comfort zone. At some point something is going to click, then you can focus on it, refine and practice it.
I currently have about 12 different serves that I can do and at Local League Div2 level they are quite effective. The problem is that when I step up the divisions as I did this week, they read the services better, handle it better and serve me a dish of "take that !!" as its whipping back down the line. So the problem I have is not variation, nor position on the table of the serve, not even whether its short or long or even cross table or down the line, it the AMOUNT of spin that I am unable to generate to trouble those in the divisions above mine.

Thanks to everyone for pointing me towards the "Eccentric" Aussie, I can just see the league matches where I get out the towel and broom during warmups !!! :D But in all seriousness, I'll watch those videos and give it a go.

Once again, THANKS ALL :)

NextLevel
09-28-2017, 11:54 AM
I love this site , TTDaily users to the rescue once again :)



Just what I was looking for to start with, this I will try during warm up's and breaks mid matches over the coming weeks :)


Probably a good idea, but a) don't have the equipment for this and b) I don't think I could take the ridicule ;):D


I currently have about 12 different serves that I can do and at Local League Div2 level they are quite effective. The problem is that when I step up the divisions as I did this week, they read the services better, handle it better and serve me a dish of "take that !!" as its whipping back down the line. So the problem I have is not variation, nor position on the table of the serve, not even whether its short or long or even cross table or down the line, it the AMOUNT of spin that I am unable to generate to trouble those in the divisions above mine.

Thanks to everyone for pointing me towards the "Eccentric" Aussie, I can just see the league matches where I get out the towel and broom during warmups !!! :D But in all seriousness, I'll watch those videos and give it a go.

Once again, THANKS ALL :)

Without seeing video, what I will say is that it is unlikely to be purely about spin as spin is one dimension of serve quality but not the most important.

One of my favorite video series is the one by Jim Clegg where he discusses how a serve fits into your game.

Then the quality of the serve places people in a relative box. Serve quality has spin as one dimension but the most important parts of serve quality especially with the new ball are height and depth with a focus on quality of these two things.

As you get better, serving with too much forward momentum into the opponent's paddle is a red flag as they use that momentum against you (hence most slow serves at higher levels bend away sideways to make tracking and attacking them with power more difficult).

A lot of serving is also about figuring out what the opponents like and don't like. Where do they like the ball? What kinds of spins do they read and attack better? Am I getting into the points when I serve this or that? Which is my serve combinations is he having trouble reading?

At the world class level, serving consistently long is hard for a looper. As a Looper, you want to get balls that fit into a neat box so you can loop. If they get pushed short, then you can set up the point with placement. Blockers aren't as pressed because they want the ball to come with pace and power they can borrow.

There is a ping skills video in serve quality in terms of short and long serves. I first saw it in another video by Brian Pace but the concept stuck with me. If you can't measure your serve quality in terms of bounce height and whether it was really short or long (vs half long middle of the table sitter), then you can't tell how well you have boxed your opponent. It is incredibly hard to serve consistently short and low at the lower levels, because too short and the serve is high and too long and the serve is long. Double bounce short on the end line requires a lot of practice that few amateurs can put in. Even pros mess it up under pressure. But when you see this, you can get a better idea of why someone is usually forced to push your serve vs when they attack it hard or push it to an annoying spot on the table. Spin is a part of it but depth, height and placement are usually a bigger deal.

UpSideDownCarl
09-28-2017, 04:15 PM
Great post by NextLevel.

Makes me also think about the deception aspect of serving where a player will continually change the amount of spin so that some are VERY heavy and some are mild, light, almost dead. And the dead ones become more effective if it is hard to see the difference in the service action between dead and heavy.


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ttmonster
09-28-2017, 04:23 PM
I feel learning ability to change spin with a good and subtle variation of height and depth is one of the easiest way to approach this problem ... and its not that difficult to learn if one keeps things simple and relaxed ... the serves might "look" simple to the bystander but they pretty much consistently do the job .. which is to provide a nice and easy loop-able third ball ... assuming thats the style OP prefers to play ...

Great post by NextLevel.

Makes me also think about the deception aspect of serving where a player will continually change the amount of spin so that some are VERY heavy and some are mild, light, almost dead. And the dead ones become more effective if it is hard to see the difference in the service action between dead and heavy.


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Andy44
09-28-2017, 08:05 PM
Serve quality has spin as one dimension but the most important parts of serve quality especially with the new ball are height and depth with a focus on quality of these two things.

Great post from NextLevel, and interesting point about the new ball changing the relative values of placement, deception and spin. I think spin quality still has at least equal value because it sets up everything else. For example, if you show me just one short really heavy underspin serve, then the demands on my footwork go up on every short serve, and my willingness to be aggressive goes down. It feels like my side of the table has suddenly gotten bigger, similar to the effect of strong hooks and fades during rallies, and you now have greater margin for error and more opportunity for deception on spin and placement. The reverse happens if I can ignore or hit through your spin, and I think that's the problem Medax faced when he played the higher division team.

NextLevel
10-02-2017, 05:44 PM
Great post from NextLevel, and interesting point about the new ball changing the relative values of placement, deception and spin. I think spin quality still has at least equal value because it sets up everything else. For example, if you show me just one short really heavy underspin serve, then the demands on my footwork go up on every short serve, and my willingness to be aggressive goes down. It feels like my side of the table has suddenly gotten bigger, similar to the effect of strong hooks and fades during rallies, and you now have greater margin for error and more opportunity for deception on spin and placement. The reverse happens if I can ignore or hit through your spin, and I think that's the problem Medax faced when he played the higher division team.

Well, we can't see his serves but your spin doesn't have to be heavy for the serve to be what it is not. I know many good players whose actual serve spin is not ridiculously impressive. They just used good placement and deception and play behind the serve well. Spin is very important but it is just one element of serve quality. I know a coach who largely serves low no spin serves and it is hard to return them short and almost impossible to kill them.

langel
10-02-2017, 08:15 PM
Its good to dive by the side edge, or just to find it.

Andy44
10-02-2017, 08:25 PM
Well, we can't see his serves but your spin doesn't have to be heavy for the serve to be what it is not. I know many good players whose actual serve spin is not ridiculously impressive. They just used good placement and deception and play behind the serve well. Spin is very important but it is just one element of serve quality. I know a coach who largely serves low no spin serves and it is hard to return them short and almost impossible to kill them.

All good points, but I do think it's worth a lot of hard work to develop quality spin. Without it you miss many opportunities for deception and decrease your margin of error. Hard to make those low no spin serves perfect all the time under match pressure. If they sit up a little they're especially easy to attack if there's no threat that they're sitting up because of heavy underspin.

langel
10-02-2017, 08:52 PM
Low no spin serves are very effective when are fast and lended nearest to the side edge and no less than 20 cm from the corner, pushing the oponent aside and giving you the oportunity to attack the return to the oposite side, or to the same corner behind the oponents back, if he jumps to regain position.

NextLevel
10-03-2017, 12:40 PM
All good points, but I do think it's worth a lot of hard work to develop quality spin. Without it you miss many opportunities for deception and decrease your margin of error. Hard to make those low no spin serves perfect all the time under match pressure. If they sit up a little they're especially easy to attack if there's no threat that they're sitting up because of heavy underspin.

I would be the last person to say that one should not develop quality serve spin. It's hard to serve any serve perfect all the time under match pressure. My point is that if he is having issues with how higher level players treat his serves, he should start with the ball depth, height and placement. Spin is important, especially for deception and variation, and some players do not know how to control or read it. But good players do not tee off on well placed serves all the time, no matter the spin. Heavy underspin is not what it used to be with the plastic ball, people attack my heavy backspin serves nowadays once they sit up - I pretty much have to keep looking for something that the opponent is not reading well and find the right spots on the table to challenge his returns.

NextLevel
10-03-2017, 12:43 PM
The videos I referenced.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YDRVhz08I


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQpv4iDsYyk