View Full Version : Return long pure side spin serves

09-24-2018, 01:33 PM

I am having a hard time to return long pure side spin serves.
I watched many video tutorials where the people say that I should use a top spin which will overwrite the side spin effect but this approach did not work for me because the ball either goes into the net if I close the angle of the bat too much, either the ball will not hit the table on the other side - which happens most of the times.
Also, some people mention in those videos that I should aim to the middle of the opponent`s table when I return a serve but that will make the ball to go off the table too.
Currently I am returning the serves by "playing the opponent effect" but I have no control in terms of placing the ball on the other side and this will give the opponent the opportunity to attack the ball; sometimes the ball will not even hit the table on the other side if I am not reading properly the angle of the bat of my opponent.
Example of what I am doing now: the opponent serves a left side spin serve (he moves the bat from his right to his left with a finish on his left side, angle of his bat like this \). I handle the racket like this on my end, "/" , to return his serve.Vice-versa for a right side spin serve. (opponent`s bat angle like this /, my bat angle like this \).
I have tried to return the side spin serves by blocking them (by just holding the racket at the proper angle and use the power of the ball generated by the opponent, without adding more power by me) with a bat angle like above, but the racket is to reactive and the ball will jump like a cannon of the table.
The technique above works pretty well for me for a short side spin serve but not for these long side spin serves.
I have tried to attack the ball underneath, like you do with a backspin serve, but again, I got no control in terms of placement on the other side of the table; the ball will be returned to high or the ball will not even hit the table on the other side.
youtube.com/watch?v=FTFZpK-P4Gk - advice to return the serve with a top spin which does not work in my case because the ball comes with a lot of side spin effect.
Please advise how should I return a long side spin serve.

Best regards.

09-24-2018, 01:56 PM
So here's what you can expect in this thread. You will get a lot of advice on what you should do. And it will be sound, good advice. It'll be what pros would do, etc. Here's the thing. We're all amateurs here and if you're like me, you'll miss more than you like giving away easy points which will frustrate you.

So my 2 cents on your options:

- What you should do is loop virtually any long serve. If it's pure side-spin then just adjust your aim left & right accordingly. The good news is that you'll do this instinctively in the future with more experience. I like to soft loop a lot of long serves in service return. Don't try to kill it with a low blazing loop. Chances are you'll miss. Try a nice high arching soft loop that's very safe. You swing more under control and you'd be surprised how spiny that loop will be going at them which can make errors. Just be ready for a counter in case they have a good attack back. If they don't? Then there's no worries.

Now that's the advice along with more technical instruction you'll get from others. Learn to loop that ball. If you get really good, that'll be probably how you should play it 90% of the time. However I'm finding that with my game personally I don't like to be predictable. I don't like the thought of every time someone serves you long they know you'll attack topspin coming back where you're only hitting 75% in (so 25% of the time it's free points) and they just have to be ready to counter back. Some players I'm finding on the intermediate level love topspin rally but kinda hate backspin. They can't loop a backspin ball to save their life.

- So that's why it's important to be able to chop also. Even with inverted rubber. Yes you can actually safely chop pretty much any type of spin serve. Even top. It just takes great touch. I actually had a match like this last night. Played a guy who beat me probably 4-ish years ago. Granted I'm better now but I remember him serving me this long fast backhand heavy sidespin serve long. I, in my immaturity, thought "He can't give me this serve." It went to my BH and i tried to loop it over & over and missed and missed. So last night having not seen his serve in forever I decided to just play safe, get past his serve and get into the point where I felt I could win from there. So I chopped probably 90% of his serves. At first they were side back & short. I was winning in the push game which he didn't like. So he later adapted to side/top long & fast encouraging the style of point he wants. I chopped those too. Sure every now & then I'd send one long but it gave him fits. He was forced to get into push rally with me or try to loop it and he couldn't do it.

By the end of the game when I felt the match was in hand, i did practice soft looping one every now & then with success just to mix it up. But it was a surprisingly easy 3-0 (11-6, 12-10, 11-4)

As I'm not a great chopper I found that long serves the more I play off the table and give that ball time to drop by my waste or knees, the easier it was to chop. Nothing worse than trying to chop a ball that's fast and high (chest level). Just doesn't work. Let it drop low and keep your chop low.

Variety & mixing up your tactics is good for your game. Hope this helps.

09-24-2018, 02:10 PM
If you can, ask someone to record a video of your opponent making these serves and you trying to return them - it would help people give you better advice. Perhaps, these serves are not quite pure sidespin as you think.

Generally speaking, returning a long pure side spin serve does not require too much bat angling. You can either go over the ball or even through the ball, just need to be confident in your stroke, exactly as Tom describes it in his video. Otherwise, you're allowing the sidespin control ball placement.

If I understand correctly - from right-handed players perspective - what you call a "left side spin serve" is a normal pendulum serve and the "right side spin serve" is a reverse pendulum serve.

Perhaps I missed it, but it is not clear whether you're trying to return both types of serve with a FH loop or BH loop or both. Many right-handed players find it easier to loop normal pendulum serves from other right-handed players on FH and to loop reverse-pendulum serves with a BH loop. Are you trying to return both types of serve using the same bat side?

09-25-2018, 04:02 PM
I think vvk1 is right here

I feel like you go to the extremes : Either you try to loop hard and you don't have enough control then the ball go in the net or outside (because your stroke is a bit random, too wide and hard to control). Either you don't stroke enough and block passively and get all the effect

If you do a medium easy loop to the middle, it should be ok. But i'm also wondering if you don't play with players too good for you and that give you really a lot of spin, more than you're confortable with right now

Also it was said here but again, if you touch the top of the ball (with topspin) and not the side of the ball (like with block) then you avoid the rotation axis of the sidespin. Then there is not so much spin

So if you stroke with confidence with a medium easy loop, just a brush to get control of the ball, then it should be good :)

Maybe spend some times to do exercice with only that. Because now you may lack confidence to do the stroke fully in match, so it can be good to do a lot in order to get used to it

09-26-2018, 02:13 AM
If you're practice partner has a strongly spinny sidespin serve then it's really good news for you. You can get a lot better practicing how to return it.

I think in these cases advice is unnecessary, just have the person shoot that serve at you 30 times and by the 30th time I guarantee you'll be able to pretty much do whatever u want with the serve.

09-26-2018, 09:50 AM
youtube.com/watch?v=FTFZpK-P4Gk - advice to return the serve with a top spin which does not work in my case because the ball comes with a lot of side spin effect.
Please advise how should I return a long side spin serve.

Best regards.

Hello - thought I'd add my thoughts as you've mentioned my video. My thinking has evolved a little since I published this video. So you still need to play a positive stroke (most probably a topspin), but just as important is that you need to read what type of sidespin it is. Really, there is no such thing as 'pure sidespin'. A sidespin serve will either be (1) sidespin with heavy backspin (2) sidespin with light backspin (3) sidespin with light topspin (4) sidespin with heavy topspin. Players get caught out when they don't read which type of sidespin (and a good server can vary the spin). So first step is to make sure you are reading the spin correctly. Then you have options. If sidespin with backspin, you could actually push the ball back, but it needs to be a positive push, not a weedy passive push. Or you could topspin, but stroke will need to be up a little more to lift the backspin. If sidespin with topspin, you could block, drive or topspin (more forwards than up). I'll probably make a new video about this next year. It's an issue a lot of players struggle with. Hope this helps!

09-26-2018, 03:42 PM
I'll probably make a new video about this next year. It's an issue a lot of players struggle with. Hope this helps!
Next year :'( But thanks for all your great videos!

09-26-2018, 09:55 PM
Always be aware of the contact point on the ball. Sidespin serves are easy to brush at the top part of the ball and easy to return even if you do not full swing.