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  1. Ndragon is offline
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    #1

    Service Receive

    I would like to ask what you focus on when receiving serve, or how you read it.
    Do you watch the bat to ball contact? What if you can't see it properly or only just about last second?
    Do you watch the flight of the ball? or the spin?
    Or all of the above.

    I have got back into TT few months now and have been doing mostly drills and training with a little multiball (at the very beginning and with celluloid balls). Played some games but with the same training partner and his serves aren't too good.
    I have begun playing others again at my club a few weeks ago and now I am able to compete and play with some decent lvl players I am just losing so much from service receive alone whether outright or they get easy 3rd ball. So I am just trying to see what tactics people use to read serves better.

  2. vvk1 is online now
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    #2
    I try to concentrate on the flight of the ball over the table and to judge the amount of spin on the ball, almost to the point of ignoring everything else.

    No matter how fast/hidden the point of contact is or whatever pre/post-contact deceptive motions the opponent uses physics takes over once the ball is in flight and over the table. If you train your brain to recognize the relationship between speed/spin and trajectory over the table, then your reaction will be automatic.

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    #3
    I've seen 2100 players lost serve from 2700 players so easily because they could not react to the ball and read the spin correctly. As ITTF rules force players not to hide the serve it means contact of the ball is the most important, not the trajectory or flight of the ball. I think we should pay attention on how the opponent racket touches the ball then the flight will tell type of spin more accurately.

  4. songdavid98 is offline
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Ndragon
    I would like to ask what you focus on when receiving serve, or how you read it.
    Do you watch the bat to ball contact? What if you can't see it properly or only just about last second?
    Do you watch the flight of the ball? or the spin?
    Or all of the above.

    I have got back into TT few months now and have been doing mostly drills and training with a little multiball (at the very beginning and with celluloid balls). Played some games but with the same training partner and his serves aren't too good.
    I have begun playing others again at my club a few weeks ago and now I am able to compete and play with some decent lvl players I am just losing so much from service receive alone whether outright or they get easy 3rd ball. So I am just trying to see what tactics people use to read serves better.
    I look at all the above. Ball contact, flight path, and even looking at the ball spin in midair all helps.

    Ball contact can be broken down, such as how fast the paddle is moving in relation to the ball (helps you figure out the amount of spin), and the paddle angle and direction of movement.

    There are some other factors, such as how high the ball toss is, height of contact, etc.

    ***********

    One general rule of thumb I have is: if it isn't obviously underspin, it probably isn't underspin. Underspin is probably the hardeset spin to create in terms of effort, and it is easily recognizable with how it makes the ball float in midair.

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    #5
    IMO, serve return is the hardest thing in table tennis. So many things to look at: arm/body motion (before, contact, after), contact, sound, speed, trajectory, etc. And you also need to memorize these details, so that the next time your opponent use that serve, you know what spin and how much. I believe that's how the pros read the deceptive serves. They may miss a couple of first serves, but then they memorize the details and next time they know what serve it is.

  6. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #6
    Brett Clarke's TTEdge App, the receive of serve part, really helps you practice reading serves. Brett also has a section of his online course that is about watching video to learn to read serves better. The more you practice how to read the serves, the better you get at it, and the faster your brain processes the information you are seeing. Because a lot of it is about brain processing speed.

    But when you are reading serves you do want to look at all information. Anything that gives you info that helps you see the spin faster is worth trying to use.

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  7. Ndragon is offline
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    #7
    Thanks for the replies. I'll check out that app. I think I just need to get used to playing games with others again and naturally my brain will start seeing it quicker.
    Although I am thinking instead of trying to do it all at in one go, i'll focus more on 2 parts at a time.

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    #8
    a friend of mine who is a very skilled player once told me that reading serves can be really confusing but you can simplify it by practicing a lot of times observing the way the ball behaves when it bounces on your side of the table. it takes a lot practice but when you see the ball goes down with no curving, then it is underspin. if it jerks or has some sideway movement then it has sidespin.
    in my opinion, always observe the point of contact in the ball when the server hits it. Brushing the ball always helps when receiving but it differs in point of contact depending on the spin given. Also, observing the logo of the ball if it is visible can tell you that the ball has no spin. It takes practice and experience.

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    #9
    It's always a challenge and the hardest thing to master in the game... At least for me it is. Just takes years of practice.

    Thankfully, or maybe this is a bad thing, I would say most players I run into I would say are not very good servers. There are a lot of players out there who like to simply use their setup points and/or just put the ball in play. Vs these people? No problem.

    But every now & then you will run into someone, who you might not be as familiar with, who just gives you fits. I have one guy at club like this. Maybe he has super fast hands but for the life of me, I cannot tell on his pendulum serve if he's doing side/back, pure side, or side/top a lot of times. Needless to say, it gives me trouble. His hand motion is so fast I just can't tell.

    But, this has been good practice for me to focus on watching the ball to try to actually see the spin. I use to primarily look at their motion. But I am trying to see the ball more.

    That being said, here are some some overall tips I think that help when you're simply baffled by someone's serve.


    • Is the serve slow or fast? If the serve is coming at you quick, a lot of times I find it's either top or side/top. Feel free to punish them on this with an attack. Hard to serve a backspin ball very fast. I find a lot of slower, maybe floating serves tend to have some backspin on them.
    • I will let the ball drop a bit (I'm talking below the table on long serves) if I'm stumped on the spin. I feel it gives more time for the spin to cool down, more for me to read the spin of the ball, and if the ball is low, well, I have to pick it up with a soft loop to get it over the net anyways. Regardless if it's pure side or say side/back. Lastly, a long serve you probably should loop anyways so that's why the soft loop on mostly anything long is my preferred service receive. That being said, I'm not fond of always giving someone the same look every time so I'm trying to add in the rare fish or chop vs these serves. Just be sure to take a few steps back off the table in those situations and be ready to counter loop their incoming 3rd ball attack.
    • I am finding I like to take serve well off the table. Again, more time to read the serve. If they try to drop a short serve on me, I'm quick enough to get in and push. Not too many people can do a really good short 2 bouncer serve with top on it. And if you do run into someone who can? Then just be aware of it. They have to be careful about using that serve too often since it can be easily flipped for a winner.



    These pointers are not service receive rules or goals. A lot of them apply to when you're not really sure what's on the ball which in itself is a bad thing. However, if it ever happens to you, give it a go. Maybe it can help.

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    Last edited by suds79; 01-02-2018 at 04:56 PM.

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    #10
    Coincidentally, I happen to run into a similar situation, but it was for match preparation. A fellow enthusiast advised me to forget about technique and focus on the reaction the ball has on the racket during a match (In simple words, he said "look at the point where the ball makes contact with the racket," but I understood what he was trying to say). It's quite funny how I did this and quickly knew what to do when I ran into difficult-to-read serves and match play in general. Of course, this should and will take a lot of practice to familiarize yourself with variations of serves and how to react, and people with other types of rubber will have different ways of reading the serve, but generally speaking, I guess the best way to prepare for a serve is by looking at the way the ball reacts from the racket, including what everyone above has mentioned.

    I would also like to add that everyone's serve will be different: some will definitely have more spin than others and will be trickier to determine the spin the ball has. To overcome this, I simply expose myself to these serves more and try to study them and learn how to return them. It's pretty much trial and error and takes experience to learn return of serve so extensively. This might not be the best reference, as no one you might encounter every day might be at this level, but good practice would be to know what spin the server makes in professional matches, whether professionals in your club or looking at videos of good Chinese servers... You get what I mean. Trying to see how professionals react and the thinking that they do towards different variations of serves and match play usually helps me out when you are essentially trying to do what they do effectively.
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    #11
    The most transformative receive advice (also from TTEdge) I ever got was to always wait for the ball to come long and try to loop preferably with FH heavy spin. The thing is only very good players can serve short and low consistently under pressure. So at amateur level most serves are either intentionally long, or half-long. It has many implications:

    1) Often players are not used to opponents looping lousy serves. So if they eventually encounter one, they get under a huge pressure which forces them to miss next shots or even serves as they attempt to serve tighter

    2) If you attempt to loop heavily, it gives higher margin for error than if you push/flick. If you misread the serve a bit, there is a chance that your own spin will override the misjudgement.

    3) Puts you in the driving seat from the get-go

    At first it is not easy to do and attempting to be that aggressive (consistently aggressive though) costs points, games and matches. But as you get better, you will see the results. Once I sticked to this mindset, I started to view almost every match as an excercise in looping serves.

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  12. Ndragon is offline
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Ilia Minkin
    The most transformative receive advice (also from TTEdge) I ever got was to always wait for the ball to come long and try to loop preferably with FH heavy spin. The thing is only very good players can serve short and low consistently under pressure. So at amateur level most serves are either intentionally long, or half-long. It has many implications:

    1) Often players are not used to opponents looping lousy serves. So if they eventually encounter one, they get under a huge pressure which forces them to miss next shots or even serves as they attempt to serve tighter

    2) If you attempt to loop heavily, it gives higher margin for error than if you push/flick. If you misread the serve a bit, there is a chance that your own spin will override the misjudgement.

    3) Puts you in the driving seat from the get-go

    At first it is not easy to do and attempting to be that aggressive (consistently aggressive though) costs points, games and matches. But as you get better, you will see the results. Once I sticked to this mindset, I started to view almost every match as an excercise in looping serves.
    oooooh I like this! I will definitely bare this in mind

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    #13
    Forgot to add another point:

    4) In TT we have lots of shots that we can use for receive: flicks, pushes, loops, bananas and strawberries. It is hard to be good at them all unless you are a pro. But it is on every player's list to develop a good FH. And if your FH is good and you know that you can use it against, say, 75% of serves it makes you feel much, much more confident and calm when receiving. Because it does not matter if your short push/flick is not good, you won't need it much.

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    #14
    If someone serves to the short forehand from the backhand corner, the serve is usually short and high or long and loopable. I just wait for the ball to come long or ttry to flick it at first. It is when they prove that they can get it short with quality that I then start trying to push. Or maybe that they can play behind it when I flick. Serving short with quality down the line is difficult. Especially if the serve is not backspin.

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    #15
    Spin is important but I'd go out on a limb and say that the most important thing you should be reading quickly isnt the spin but rather if the serve is short or long.

    I think you should always try to return serves agressively.

    A long serve you should learn to topspin back, which makes the spin on the serve not very important, and actually turns it to your advantage..
    Whereas with a short serve you need to quickly get your right leg under the table and your whole body leaning onto the table to flick (also ignoring most spin) or return with a very short touch. And you have to do this *very* quickly or you'll miss the ideal contact or still be moving when you contact the ball which will destroy your shot.

    Id suggest to first practice short serve short return and then short serve backhand flick and then tackle long serves which are a bit trickier because of shorter reaction time.
    Last edited by Lightzy; 01-02-2018 at 08:28 PM.

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    #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Lightzy
    Spin is important but I'd go out on a limb and say that the most important thing you should be reading quickly isnt the spin but rather if the serve is short or long.

    I think you should always try to return serves agressively.

    A long serve you should learn to topspin back, which makes the spin on the serve not very important, and actually turns it to your advantage..
    Whereas with a short serve you need to quickly get your right leg under the table and your whole body leaning onto the table to flick (also ignoring most spin) or return with a very short touch. And you have to do this *very* quickly or you'll miss the ideal contact or still be moving when you contact the ball which will destroy your shot.

    Id suggest to first practice short serve short return and then short serve backhand flick and then tackle long serves which are a bit trickier because of shorter reaction time.

    Why tackle short serves first since you are hardly going to see them in a match at the level most of us play at?

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    #17
    I was taught to always expect long serves; You can always move inwards to the table in time if its a short serve, but not backwards away from the table if it's a long serve.

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  18. Ndragon is offline
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    #18
    A lot of interesting pointers. The part about always expecting the serve long I will also keep in mind.
    I will re read through this thread before I go to my session tomorrow

  19. Ndragon is offline
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    #19
    Oh wow that TTedge app seems really good. Is it worth paying for the entire thing?
    I really found myself watching the flight of the ball and being correct most of the time. But if I watched the contact I failed a lot lol

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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by GabrielO_TT
    I was taught to always expect long serves; You can always move inwards to the table in time if its a short serve, but not backwards away from the table if it's a long serve.
    This is what unless taught as well. Unfortunately it seems to me that some of us like to dispense advice without ever discussing our qualifications so that advice can be placed in context.

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