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  1. Gozo is offline
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    #1

    Serve & receive contribute 50% of your game

    "Serve & receive contribute 50% of your game points. Some said one third."

    Ladies and gentlemen of this TT community, the above anecdotal statistic is what I gather from interacting with my circle of TT community, including here. It would appear to me a majority consensus do agree that serve & receive plays a major role in the game. I too tend to agree with the above statement. Here comes to my question. It is as follows:

    If serve & receive is so important, why is it I see coaching places more emphasize on learning FH, BH strokes and not more on the serve and receive technicalities. From my personal experience, FH & BH stroke technical production is emphasized more. To me, it is like putting the cart before the horse isn't it?

    Dear coaches be it full time or part time, may I hear your thoughts on this matter? Thank you.

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  2. Michael Zhuang is offline
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    #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Gozo
    "Serve & receive contribute 50% of your game points. Some said one third."

    Ladies and gentlemen of this TT community, the above anecdotal statistic is what I gather from interacting with my circle of TT community, including here. It would appear to me a majority consensus do agree that serve & receive plays a major role in the game. I too tend to agree with the above statement. Here comes to my question. It is as follows:

    If serve & receive is so important, why is it I see coaching places more emphasize on learning FH, BH strokes and not more on the serve and receive technicalities. From my personal experience, FH & BH stroke technical production is emphasized more. To me, it is like putting the cart before the horse isn't it?

    Dear coaches be it full time or part time, may I hear your thoughts on this matter? Thank you.
    Serve and receive is what decides 50% of game points. Actually, I think this is what drove me away from the sport for 20 years. In many ways, Tennis and Badminton are far more accessible and therefore more enjoyable because you can more easily get into rallies. TT has its own charms as well.

    My guess is that coaches want to work on something that can see an obvious tangible improvement. It's easier to raise your looping level in a short time. You literally could improve your FH loop in 1 session.

    With serve and receive, it's less about technique and more about reading/judgment. There is exponentially more variations to be prepared for. I think its a lot harder to improve this aspect in my experience.

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    Last edited by Michael Zhuang; 05-30-2022 at 02:08 AM.

  3. PingBirdPong is offline
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Gozo
    "Serve & receive contribute 50% of your game points. Some said one third."

    Ladies and gentlemen of this TT community, the above anecdotal statistic is what I gather from interacting with my circle of TT community, including here. It would appear to me a majority consensus do agree that serve & receive plays a major role in the game. I too tend to agree with the above statement. Here comes to my question. It is as follows:

    If serve & receive is so important, why is it I see coaching places more emphasize on learning FH, BH strokes and not more on the serve and receive technicalities. From my personal experience, FH & BH stroke technical production is emphasized more. To me, it is like putting the cart before the horse isn't it?

    Dear coaches be it full time or part time, may I hear your thoughts on this matter? Thank you.
    I mean…
    If you can’t receive anything or serve anything, having Ma Longs forehand and FZD’s backhand still won’t help you win.🤪

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  4. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #4
    Here: watch this video:

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    #5
    This is why my first coach and I concentrated on the first four strokes. My first coach was about 2100 but he had much nastier serves than my 3rd coach that had a rating of 2500. My first coach didn't lose to anybody below 2300 when he played in the US Open. Normally a difference of 100 USATT ratings points means that the higher rated player will win 5 out of 6 matches so not losing to anybody 200 points higher is significant.



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    #6
    Well, serves you can practice on your own, you just need a rough idea of what needs to be done to get the ball spinning the way you want, then get a bucket of balls and practice. Receive is more about reading the spin, and once you understand how to read then there's nothing too different than receiving any other shots in a rally.

  7. Dr Evil is offline
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Gozo
    If serve & receive is so important, why is it I see coaching places more emphasize on learning FH, BH strokes and not more on the serve and receive technicalities. From my personal experience, FH & BH stroke technical production is emphasized more. To me, it is like putting the cart before the horse isn't it?

    Serve receive is the cart. You need at least a few different kinds of fh and bh horses to pull it. So, no, I don't think the coaches have it backwards.

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  8. Lycanthrope is offline
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    #8
    FH BH stroke requires more on body, while Serve Receive requires more on wrist and hand, which is more flexible and sophisticated. Techniques on hands are more difficult to be trained than on body, this applies to most sports. Thus, FH HB stroke can be taught at the very beginning, but Serve Receive requires experience before the learner starts.

    Something may off the topic. You guys have decent FH BH stroke. You may once had an idea 'his stroke is awful, but he is still at the same level with me, it is unfair.'. But from another perspective, you have played table tennis for 1 year and he has played for 10 years, he is still at the same level with you, it is unfair as well.

  9. Gozo is offline
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl
    Here: watch this video:
    Carl,

    Luv it! Luv it! Luv this video. It brings something new to me. Appreciate it a lot.

    I was doing what is called Block Practice for the past four months and my coach only introduced Randomness since the last three lessons. It was messy, it was ugly and my shots was all over the place. However, after watching this video, I know now that there is scientific proof that Random Practice prepare one better for game time. Knowing this and couple with the random practice that I will be getting going forward, I look forward to being a better TT player future. I would only get better.

  10. NDH is offline
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    #10

    Here’s some thoughts as to why this would be a bad idea (having recently discussed this with my son, who is pretty annoyed I won’t teach him loads of killer serves).

    Unless you are good enough to be able to play good quality FH and BH, it’s unlikely you’ll be good enough with your footwork, your transition from serve to 3rd ball and sometimes, simply holding the bat and being relaxed.

    At most levels (certainly on this forum), Coaches are not training professionals. If they were, the professional would be expected to put in hours and hours of serve practice themselves (and they do, you just don’t see it).

    Whilst serve is clearly very important, and generally sets you up…. At high levels, the ball is expected to come back, so unless you have the skills to deal with it, it’s all wasted.

    At low levels, having deadly serves is a disadvantage to your progression, and this is why I haven’t taught my son any.

    The moment he develops serves way above his skill level, I can guarantee he’ll do them too often, win too many cheap points, and not get much from the matches at all.

    Those people will improve over time, but I see it in the highest levels of local league in the UK…..

    There are always players who have amazing serves, and will win games they shouldn’t…. Until people get used to their serves. Once the ball is in play, they are weaker and the advantage goes to the opponent.

    Serves are really important, but you should do them on your own, practicing over and over to get different spins….. and not waste all that money to have a coach watch you!

    YouTube is pretty good for serves, as is simply watching the pro matches and slowing it down.

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    Last edited by NDH; 05-30-2022 at 09:54 AM.

  11. jammmail is offline
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH

    Here’s some thoughts as to why this would be a bad idea (having recently discussed this with my son, who is pretty annoyed I won’t team him loads of killer serves).

    Unless you are good enough to be able to play good quality FH and BH, it’s unlikely you’ll be good enough with your footwork, your transition from serve to 3rd ball and sometimes, simply holding the bat and being relaxed.

    At most levels (certainly on this forum), Coaches are not training professionals. If they were, the professional would be expected to put in hours and hours of serve practice themselves (and they do, you just don’t see it).

    Whilst serve is clearly very important, and generally sets you up…. At high levels, the ball is expected to come back, so unless you have the skills to deal with it, it’s all wasted.

    At low levels, having deadly serves is a disadvantage to your progression, and this is why I haven’t taught my son any.

    The moment he develops serves way above his skill level, I can guarantee he’ll do them too often, win too many cheap points, and not get much from the matches at all.

    Those people will improve over time, but I see it in the highest levels of local league in the UK…..

    There are always players who have amazing serves, and will win games they shouldn’t…. Until people get used to their serves. Once the ball is in play, they are weaker and the advantage goes to the opponent.

    Serves are really important, but you should do them on your own, practicing over and over to get different spins….. and not waste all that money to have a coach watch you!

    YouTube is pretty good for serves, as is simply watching the pro matches and slowing it down.

    1000%


  12. Richie is offline
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH

    Here’s some thoughts as to why this would be a bad idea (having recently discussed this with my son, who is pretty annoyed I won’t team him loads of killer serves).

    Unless you are good enough to be able to play good quality FH and BH, it’s unlikely you’ll be good enough with your footwork, your transition from serve to 3rd ball and sometimes, simply holding the bat and being relaxed.

    At most levels (certainly on this forum), Coaches are not training professionals. If they were, the professional would be expected to put in hours and hours of serve practice themselves (and they do, you just don’t see it).

    Whilst serve is clearly very important, and generally sets you up…. At high levels, the ball is expected to come back, so unless you have the skills to deal with it, it’s all wasted.

    At low levels, having deadly serves is a disadvantage to your progression, and this is why I haven’t taught my son any.

    The moment he develops serves way above his skill level, I can guarantee he’ll do them too often, win too many cheap points, and not get much from the matches at all.

    Those people will improve over time, but I see it in the highest levels of local league in the UK…..

    There are always players who have amazing serves, and will win games they shouldn’t…. Until people get used to their serves. Once the ball is in play, they are weaker and the advantage goes to the opponent.

    Serves are really important, but you should do them on your own, practicing over and over to get different spins….. and not waste all that money to have a coach watch you!

    YouTube is pretty good for serves, as is simply watching the pro matches and slowing it down.

    Good post. There is often some kind of compensation going on. If you start to develop some strength, it's possible that you'll rely on it so much that you don't develop other things. And these weaknesses might not become apparent until you play certain players.

    I played local league in the UK several years ago and I remember there that some had good spinny serves and won many points through them. Especially against players who hadn't learnt an offensive game. Those players with these spinny serves would often serve long. Do that against a decent player who can open 90% against a long ball and can follow it up.. you'll have no chance. And if you're so used to winning the point of your serve, you won't be used to the return.

    I think it's important to learn to serve with a lot of spin though and to be able to handle the return of your own serve if you did serve with a lot of spin. You need that experience. It's important to be able to open against anything. At the higher level, like I think Timo Boll said in one of his videos, that the pros don't rely on straight points off the serve. It's a given that it will be returned. But there will be patterns to the return given certain serves and those patterns will become more intuitive with experience. I think it all becomes more intuitive with experience.

    ​​​​​​​Something else to consider is that there is a transfer of skill between different shots. If you learn good spin contact for your FH, it will be easier to do so for your bh and serves because you already have an intuition for the feeling. If you have a misunderstanding somewhere about technique or how you should approach one shot, that misunderstanding may also be there for other things. That's my experience at least. A small shift in perspective can make a big difference imo.

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  13. IB66 is offline
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    #13
    My personal thoughts about serves for beginners is that a basic serve (very basic) should be taught alongside BH & FH technique. Not necessarily at the start but fairly early on. So if learning BH & FH drive then the basic serve to teach will be a BH & FH drive serve, explaining serve rules and making sure that they start their practice rallies with a basic legal serve.

    When practicing and starting the rally off, how often do you just throw the ball back onto the blade or hit from the hand??? I know I do it !!!!! trouble is, that this can worm it's way into your serve if you are not careful !!!
    How often do you see players with illegal serves??? especially hitting from the hand or low toss??? more so at local league level, but even in intermediate level they can be common, not so much at high / Pro level (then they are usually classed as 'Borderline' !!!!)

    More complex or serves with high spin levels and deception need to be learnt later in a players development, Once they have gained a better level of 'feel' 'touch' as well as having well grounded and consistent strokes. As NDH said these can be learnt with the assistance of you tube tutorials etc that's what I did during lockdown, and they need to be practiced a lot!!!
    At first I found myself in the 'good serve/disadvantage' bracket, I'd learnt the serve but not how it's returned, what to expect from the receiver, how it effects the 3rd ball attack and my point planning. What I've learnt is that sometimes less is more!!! and to understand what serves accomplish and to a certain extent make the return more predicable. Relying on a serve to win a point outright is a false economy!!!!

  14. Kuba Hajto is offline
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by DukeGaGa
    Well, serves you can practice on your own, you just need a rough idea of what needs to be done to get the ball spinning the way you want, then get a bucket of balls and practice.

    I would argue that it is more complex than that and you need more things than a bucket of balls. When training in such a way you are training open loop. You have no feedback on how you are actually doing.

    If one actually wants to practice serve there is a lot of variables to practice. Placement, length, spin intensity (spin velocity?), spin variation with the same movement and recovery time (I see far too many people who practice serve without resetting)

    A few pieces of paper / targets would be crucial as well as a tower or other thing the ball will stop at. Target to practice accuracy and towel to control the placement, and towel to mask off the table space on your side of the table. If you had a return board you could measure control your spin. If you had something to block the balls that are to high that would also be extremely helpful.

    /devnull

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    #15
    Imo serve and receive is closer to 75% of points. Many points that get into the rally are already over due to the receive and only get finished off with rally strokes. We have all had that experience where you return the serve on the table but too high, or long into your opponent's power, and you are just a dead man standing there.

    Coaches may not work on serves because the skills are so hard and progress so slow. Most students would quit and the coach would get evicted and starve. And you can practice serving on your own. If you won't practice by yourself the coaching isn't going to do much for you. When it comes to receive at the start all the serves will be long. So rally strokes and receive are the same skills. Later when short play becomes a thing I do see coaches working on touches and flicks a ton. But that is irrelevant to a beginner, except that it looks cool.

    Question to NDH and Richie: I don't understand how having great serves would retard your progress? Maybe it's something about the structure of English local league. Here if you are 1200 and put in the effort to develop serves that nobody under 1700 can receive, you would quickly jump up to 16-1700 yourself. Yes, you would win a lot of matches purely off serves, but for maybe two or three tournaments until your rating adjusted. After that you would simply be playing at a new level and your rally strokes and receive would have to grow to allow you to move up. I don't see how that would be any dfferent from developing a killer backhand loop for your level, say. Like would you mind if your kids had massive backhands, out of all proportion to the rest of their game, because they would rely on it too much? Is it about serves specifically, or simply about balance?

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  16. Umut is offline
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    #16
    I'm not coach or pro player but potential reasons could be these:

    0- Assessing player's skills on basic strokes are easier and faster than assessing from serves, so up to certain level if a player have no shine of star/pro player, may not worth for investment for class coaches etc.

    1- Isolated serve-receive practices mostly need multi-ball which some clubs don't have enough ball, space, barrier.
    2- Serve can be practiced by alone
    3- Serve-receive drills can be combined beginning of other drills
    4- They might think serving is up to personal taste, skill, preference, so letting free is more effective of course after teaching fundamentals of serving
    5- Receiving mostly depends on reading, because serve has great variety in terms of styles and combinations, it's hard to teach in club. And it kind of depends on skills and experience. So they might be leaving this as homework Watching matches, practicing/playing with different opponents etc.
    6- Even though average rally hit count is about 4-5, it seems less likely to win point by just serving or receiving between two equal players in beginner or intermediate level. So focusing strokes might seem more important than serve receive.
    7- Correcting wrong stroke technique is harder than correcting wrong serving or receiving, so priority again.
    8- It's kind of boring for both trainer and player, so if players are just recreational, they might be making happy them
    Last edited by Umut; 05-31-2022 at 07:56 AM.

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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Brs
    Imo serve and receive is closer to 75% of points. Many points that get into the rally are already over due to the receive and only get finished off with rally strokes. We have all had that experience where you return the serve on the table but too high, or long into your opponent's power, and you are just a dead man standing there.

    Coaches may not work on serves because the skills are so hard and progress so slow. Most students would quit and the coach would get evicted and starve. And you can practice serving on your own. If you won't practice by yourself the coaching isn't going to do much for you. When it comes to receive at the start all the serves will be long. So rally strokes and receive are the same skills. Later when short play becomes a thing I do see coaches working on touches and flicks a ton. But that is irrelevant to a beginner, except that it looks cool.

    Question to NDH and Richie: I don't understand how having great serves would retard your progress? Maybe it's something about the structure of English local league. Here if you are 1200 and put in the effort to develop serves that nobody under 1700 can receive, you would quickly jump up to 16-1700 yourself. Yes, you would win a lot of matches purely off serves, but for maybe two or three tournaments until your rating adjusted. After that you would simply be playing at a new level and your rally strokes and receive would have to grow to allow you to move up. I don't see how that would be any dfferent from developing a killer backhand loop for your level, say. Like would you mind if your kids had massive backhands, out of all proportion to the rest of their game, because they would rely on it too much? Is it about serves specifically, or simply about balance?

    I don't personally believe that having great serves would slow progress. I just understood NDH point (if I understood correctly) that if you rely too much on one strength it can distort your game kind of. I think it's really important to get a good serve asap and then you're forced to deal and probably work on the return. If you're being coached you'll get to work on the other strokes in isolation as well.
    THe bigger problem is really just playing within one small TT world and getting limited exposure. So it's more about balance like you say.


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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kuba Hajto

    I would argue that it is more complex than that and you need more things than a bucket of balls. When training in such a way you are training open loop. You have no feedback on how you are actually doing.

    If one actually wants to practice serve there is a lot of variables to practice. Placement, length, spin intensity (spin velocity?), spin variation with the same movement and recovery time (I see far too many people who practice serve without resetting)

    A few pieces of paper / targets would be crucial as well as a tower or other thing the ball will stop at. Target to practice accuracy and towel to control the placement, and towel to mask off the table space on your side of the table. If you had a return board you could measure control your spin. If you had something to block the balls that are to high that would also be extremely helpful.

    That doesn’t contradict what I’m saying, you can practice on your own, you just need to know how to generate spin, then you start experimenting. And if receiving is reading spin, you should also know servicing is hiding the spin, so everything you practice in a serve should be based on this. As for how much spin is on the ball, honestly you don’t need a lot if you can hide it well, but if you really want to you can just count the bounces and/or how much does the direction changes, for long balls speed is more important because it should be a surprise.

    The point is, there’s nothing much a coach can teach hands on, and there isn’t really a wrong way as long as you don’t hurt yourself doing serves, so the coach only need to teach the concept and show a few demos, then it’s up to you to practice on your own, and the coach only need to check in on your progress every now and then.

    Last edited by DukeGaGa; 05-30-2022 at 03:42 PM.

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    #19
    I do think forehand and backhand need more practice because they are more complex and "unnatural" motions using multiple joints and those movements need to be engrained into the body.

    Also many serve returns are actually based on the "ground strokes" (there are not just push returns but also backhand flips (based on topspin form basically) and normal topspins against long serves. Also while every rally starts with a serve or return there is at least the potential for rallies involving multiple forehands and backhands so unless you always score directly w serve or return you need the ability to rally.

    That doesn't mean pushes and serves shouldn't be practiced more but I do think the ability to rally is crucial as you won't always score with the serve or return and the ability to win the point late helps you psychologically too.

  20. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #20
    I also think, with some of the discussion on the effects good serves: 1) there is a difference between wicked evil serves that win you the point outright and 2) serves that are good because you use them to set you up to take control of the point.

    So, that is a distinction of two different kinds of strategies. He Zhi Wen seemed to do fairly well with that first strategy. But it is not exactly how I would want to play. I like the strategy of using the serve to get you to what you do best faster. But someone who uses strategy number 2 may still have the ability to pull out those serves that can win you the point outright.

    I don't think the idea of strategies of serve and what you should want from working on your serves is entirely separate from the idea that practicing game simulation type random drills can help you read the game better: which is one of the ideas they are presenting in that Train Ugly video I like posting so frequently.

    Also, in that Train Ugly video they have a theory about why some coaches would prefer to do the standard block training that makes developing players look better quickly while struggling to understand why, when they train with the coach the look like they are improving so much and when they play matches, they are not seeing those results reflecting an improvement in performance in match play.

    But, with the serve side of serve and receive, if you are thinking about the serve as something to set you up for the rally, your serves can be really good without being flashy. That might be the height of the bounce on the serve; your ability to control the speed and depth of the serve.....if you can serve short and low and still have the serve be fast, that is an excellent serve regardless of what spin is on the ball or even, if any spin is on the ball. My understanding is, Ma Lin was famous for Spin/No Spin serves and would do that over and over. The deception in that of whether the ball had spin or not, over and over again, he used that to great effect to set up his giant FH opening shots.

    And all of this stuff, working on the serve and receive in the context of game simulation drills, would start you getting to think more about how you construct a point to get it so you can control the point so you get to utilize your strengths.

    So....Gozo, those random drills where you are trying to figure out, "will it go to my FH or BH", those are the first, most preliminary steps towards fully random training.

    By all means, Gozo, watch this whole video. But particularly, watch at 4:44.

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