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    1. Top | #1
      Gary Buck is online now
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      Serve and attack strategies

      I am a relatively new player, a lower intermediate (USATT rating about 1000). For my level, I have fairly good technique, and fairly good serves—I get decent spin, and can vary the spin and placement somewhat with FH pendulum and BH serves. I now need to develop my match play. “Develop your serve and third-ball attack” seems to be the most common advice, but I cannot find much advice online about which serves lead to which attacks.

      Any advice about basic serve and attack strategies, or combinations to work on? (I.e. serve xxx, expect yyy, then do zzz.) What are your most useful serve and attack strategies? Any, and all advice would be welcome.

    2. Top | #2
      suds79 is offline
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      A good question to ask. Generally whatever sets up for a ball you like factoring in what you opponent can do well and what not.

      If you're a topspin to topspin player (so many of these types at my particular club), then serving long & fast some sort of side/top variation (or fast & dead is good too.) will generally get you an attack back and you're into the style of point you want. Note that you should be mindful if your opponent is making you pay or not. If they have a big FH, don't serve long to it. But can they do it on the BH? Are they consistent in their attack. If they smoke it back at you 1 out of 4 attempts then by all means keep doing it.

      I myself prefer slow backspin balls so a lot of time (I got this tip years back from Next Level) I'll serve a simple heavy underspin ball. I have a variety of service spins I like but sometimes keeping it simple gives you a predictable spin back and you can work from there. Anyways, 90% of the time they will push this back if my serve is very spiny and low. And if they can't keep it short, I FH loop that ball almost no questions asked. You want to be decisive here. Their backspin aided by my loop creates a tough ball for them to block back on the table. I like practicing this point a lot anyways as it teaches you how to spin up a ball really good. (side note: you can also test their ability to loop backspin. Serve backspin long. If they can't loop or miss that a lot, they'll chop and a long backspin serve is next to impossible to keep short on the table so your FH loop should be ready for that 3rd ball.)

      I'm sure others will have more tactical advice as I'm left handed and honestly that sets up angles play a lot more in my service game and what I like to do vs right handers. I'm assuming you're right handed playing a lot of other right handers so I really can't help you much there.

      But in short. If you're looking to improve your 3rd ball attack. You're just looking for service variation that makes them make a mistake in placing their return a pinch high or a pinch long then you spin it up in your attack from there.
      Last edited by suds79; 4 Weeks Ago at 04:13 PM.

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    4. Top | #3
      yogi_bear is offline
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      Learn how to loop underspinballs after you have served underspin serves.

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    6. Top | #4
      Der_Echte is offline
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      OP,

      You will need to learn how to make every possible spin, placement, angle, and did I mention type and degree of spin... all from the same motion and angle. Helps to have several serve slots and motions. It is real important to serve short and low when you want it.

      Doing that will give you several types of variation. The variation and the opponent not reading the variation will cause opponent to return with error or return longer and/or higher than intended.

      The long or high balls are prime balls to attack.

      You also need to learn what possible returns come from your serves... you need to be ready to attack, you need high consistency, but hopefully your serves will make the job easier. You need to be able to know the possible angles... you need to experiment with your opponents to see what serves are effective, even err tone different.

      You need to serve with a plan and serve to setup your strengths.

      Der_Echte could be accused of taking this as far as it can go for his hot garbage skillz. Serving and attacking made me at least a half azz respectable player.

      I went from 1400 to 1600 in one year with no match play practiced serves 3 minutes a day... just learning to serve short and everything else carried me 2 levels with no other practice.

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    8. Top | #5
      Der_Echte is offline
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      What I described is an enormous strategic goal.

      Dont get me wrong, everyone should have these goals and work on them.

      The goals take a lot of time, focus, and effective training to make work acceptably enough.

      Another way is shorter term goal of learning to serve short heavy under low... and do the same serve light under or near dead.

      That will certainly at OP level get attackable chances.

      At usatt 1000 level, players are uber inconsistent. They miss a lot of balls and make a lot of errors.

      There are MANY 1800 level players who cannot even spell short serve toss it would amaze you.

      So... getting your start now will help you out big time down the road. It took me 6 months of light but focused practice to serve short consistently, you could prolly do that in one month if you learned from someone effective ways and practiced effectively.

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    9. Top | #6
      NextLevel is online now
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      This is the first of a 3 or 4 video series that discusses the subject a little.

      https://youtu.be/NQpv4iDsYyk
      Cobra Kai TT Exponent - No mercy in this dojo, no matter your rating or the score. All spin, no power or footwork.

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    11. Top | #7
      NextLevel is online now
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      Here is a Larry Hodges article that is at least partly related.

      https://butterflyonline.com/tip-week...forehand-loop/

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    13. Top | #8
      Der_Echte is offline
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      It is nearly impossible to demonstrate with text or even vids... some things, one needs to see live to get the concepts into ones head.

      The things literally every new server gets wrong are bat angle, swing plane, timing, grip pressure, and biomechanics of a short area whip.

      That is a lot possible to get wrong and if you try to practice without knowing what is right, you will NOT be able to put it all together correctly at once at the table.

      That is why established coaches like Dan and Brett Clarke champion a progressive staged approach.

      Both Dan and Brett's vids will show some easy to grasp concepts that will make you wonder why some 2000 players are their level as some of that crowd cannot spell s.h.o.r.t. either.

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    14. Top | #9
      Loopadoop is offline
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      Table Tennis Service Fundamentals .. for beginners

      https://youtu.be/-zN5GVSIMzI

    15. Top | #10
      whocarez is offline
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      You got some good advice already. I think that those that are relatively new, may struggle a bit with turning a match around from defence to offence. Like picking the right ball when to attack after the serve and opening up with good quality. Heck, I am pretty sure that this is something you can work on for a lifetime. This is not necessarily the 3rd ball, although this is a good skill to use sometimes. So yes, definitely spend some time to learn how to loop longer underspin returns. You may notice that if your serve is decent, you may not be prepared on how to deal with the spin of the return. This also requires quite a bit of practice, so start with how to open up against pure backspin first.

      Last bit of advice: once you get better at opening up against backspin, make sure you spend time on how to do it from different positions around the table. I know for myself that being out of position is my biggest struggle and often leads to my technique breaking down. Therefore, I really to work on my footwork.

    16. Top | #11
      Der_Echte is offline
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      Next Level is showing you SOME of the more popular serving vids around. All are worth studying as basic foundational learning. He would need to spend the next week trying to show you 1/4 of them.

      I know you want to hear do this, get this, then attack like this... but even 1000 level usatt player dont always cooperate.

      If you are too keyed up for a certain ball, then the ball isnt what you expected, but are still committed to attacking it like a frenzied ma long video game character, then you might miss and lose the point.

      That is why I encourage players to learn what is possible, then likely, then what the individual opponents do...

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    17. Top | #12
      Lula is offline
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      Have very little time so this will be very basic.

      serve -> proably possible return, or most the times

      Short serve with backspin -> short return or long push. At lower levels more long push.
      Short nospin, sidetop, topspin serve -> high push or flip. Very high level can push short.
      Long serve -> loop. Lower levels push more. backspin, sidespinbackspin gives more spin, sidetop, topspin gives more power in return.
      Sidespin to their backhand-> return to the backhand. Think of the above for what kind.
      reverse sidespin to their forehand -> return to forehand. think of the above for what kind.
      half long serve serve -> slow topspin loop or bad push.

      Also look for patterns. People always play in patterns and often do the same return on your serve. If one do it, alot of them do it. And also look at how the individual you play do it. Then try to do the opposite. In example, if they only push on short serves they proably are not so good at flick or do not prefer it so try to serve sidetopspin, topspin or nospin short so they push and put the ball high. Then if they change and start to do flip, then you go back to backspin serve so they flip in the net. Then you need to vary depending on what they do. And do like this on all kind of returns.

      As long as you are awake and alert you will learn this stuff by playing.

    18. Top | #13
      Loopadoop is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lula View Post
      Have very little time so this will be very basic.

      serve -> proably possible return, or most the times

      Short serve with backspin -> short return or long push. At lower levels more long push.
      Short nospin, sidetop, topspin serve -> high push or flip. Very high level can push short.
      Long serve -> loop. Lower levels push more. backspin, sidespinbackspin gives more spin, sidetop, topspin gives more power in return.
      Sidespin to their backhand-> return to the backhand. Think of the above for what kind.
      reverse sidespin to their forehand -> return to forehand. think of the above for what kind.
      half long serve serve -> slow topspin loop or bad push.

      Also look for patterns. People always play in patterns and often do the same return on your serve. If one do it, alot of them do it. And also look at how the individual you play do it. Then try to do the opposite. In example, if they only push on short serves they proably are not so good at flick or do not prefer it so try to serve sidetopspin, topspin or nospin short so they push and put the ball high. Then if they change and start to do flip, then you go back to backspin serve so they flip in the net. Then you need to vary depending on what they do. And do like this on all kind of returns.

      As long as you are awake and alert you will learn this stuff by playing.
      Can you give us an example of one serve, with all the Pro's and Con's for returns, depending on the location of the serve, giving example by 2-3 different locations, with all the different options by the server on his 3rd ball options ?

    19. Top | #14
      olimpck is offline
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      all the time I wanted to become a professional, what advice can you give

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      Do you have a coach? If not have a practice partner that will let you practice 3rd ball loops

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      Quote Originally Posted by Gary Buck View Post
      I am a relatively new player, a lower intermediate (USATT rating about 1000). For my level, I have fairly good technique, and fairly good serves—I get decent spin, and can vary the spin and placement somewhat with FH pendulum and BH serves. I now need to develop my match play. “Develop your serve and third-ball attack” seems to be the most common advice, but I cannot find much advice online about which serves lead to which attacks.

      Any advice about basic serve and attack strategies, or combinations to work on? (I.e. serve xxx, expect yyy, then do zzz.) What are your most useful serve and attack strategies? Any, and all advice would be welcome.
      Hi Gary
      some good advice given already. I’ll just add
      short balls give many choices to opponent even though they put him under movement pressure. Long balls put him under less movement pressure, but you will find his return more predictable. Its a very valid tactic in some circumstances for instance to give your opponent the chance to loop, if you believe you can counter effectively. Usually avoid the short game against a stronger opponent (unless you need the practice)

      Take stock of your current serves and develop them this way.

      Assuming you are right handed:
      You should be able to stand in bh corner and serve very short low chop to Rh opps fh

      you should be able from same position to serve long fast ‘dead’ (flat) to opps BH

      Note that these two locations are the maximum distance apart on opponents court.

      Using this fact you should adjust your two serves so they will appear identical to your opponent until the second you hit them. So, you have one serve which pulls your opponent forward, and another which pushes him back. So now you can put “Direction” pressure on your opponent. That’s one choice he has to make. Later Add the ability to serve FAST anywhere.
      Thats good for you, but really its better if you can add reading “SPIN” as something he has to worry about at the same time as “Direction”
      You should have the ability to do your pendulum with the same preparation and appearance as the first two serves. You get the idea - Over time develop a family of serves to all parts of the table with different spins and speeds but looking identical until the last second, and when using them alway keep in mind the principle of having your opponent not being sure what is going to happen next. Each new spin you learn try to have a short and a long or even fast version.
      If you are going to follow this advice, you need to practice your serves at least an hour a week. A fast serve should be VERY FAST and varied in Direction, a short chop serve should be VERY HEAVY and SHORT. And above all you should not MISS your serve. This is a problem you are likely to encounter as you develop the FAST serve. In serious match situations you need to have the mental discipline to not give points away by using a serve which you have not perfected.
      One tip on disguise: its a good idea to keep your serves as nondescript as possible. Many amateurs delight in having a flashy stroke for each spin variation- but that stroke can be like a signpost for your opponent.

      We recently had He Zhiwen at our club and he gave a demo and a sort of master class. His main message was:
      practice
      have a plan
      use the whole table
      keep opponent off balance
      make him move

      I seem to have got carried away!
      good luck Gary
      Last edited by pingpongpaddy; 5 Days Ago at 09:32 PM.

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    23. Top | #17
      starsky27 is offline
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      That last post is spot on and is exactly what I practice.
      There is lots of good advice on this thread but for me that last post sums up it all up.
      I spend a lot of time practicing my serves as I have a table at home . Its very easy to become distracted by trying to get as spinny serves as possible especially when your starting out and winning many points from your serve. Far better to focus on deceiving the opponent and looking for a weak return to attack . This change of mindset has really helped to improve my results.
      If your practicing a serve make sure you move into a neutral position after serving and even practice the third ball strike even without a ball. I made a bad error of focusing just on the serve when I started out and this caused a problem with my recovery for the next shot in matches . You have to link the serve and third ball always to make it more fluid and natural when playing.

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