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  1. Topspinner is offline
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    #1

    Recognizing opponents spin

    Against players with a higher level I make alot of serve returning mistakes.

    I'm looking forward to your advice to read the spin better.

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    #2
    It can be helpful to look at the text on the ball to see how much spin it is

  3. Der_Echte is offline
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    #3
    You got some clues, physical clues, visual clues.

    The first clues you have are to watch several things EXACTLY at impact:

    1- Direction of bat
    2- Speed of bat
    3- Angle of bat - under the ball is underspin, but even under and behind the ball combined with a bat moving up makes topspin (confusing, eh?)

    You can also try to listen for the ammount of solid or grazing impact, but that can be difficult in a noisy venue or if opponent stomps

    You then have the clues of how fast or slow the ball is coming at you and where the 1st bounce is. A bounce 2/3 the way to the net with a slwer speed is usually a short serve. A bounce neer the endlind with medium or more pace is usually a deep serve.

    You can watch the ball as it moves in the air. It floats more with underspin.

    You can watch how the ball bounces on your side of table. If it jumps right at you, it has topspin, if it kicks to the side, it has some or much corkscrew spin.

    These are you clues. By then, it is too late to try to process anything, it is too late by now.

    You also might have knowledge of an opponent's tendencies in certain situations or how he/she does a certain motion for a certain serve or how he/she has served when they do something you noticed. That is about it and it is up to us to figure it all out.

    It isn't easy, our sport and myself I am not a total expert on this, even if I know the "How" portion of it all, I do not have enough reps and experience to be as good as I need to be, still many of us are not as good as we want to be.

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    #4
    When reading serves, i have 3 ways of doing it. 1. Look at the point of contact. If the person hits under the ball= backspin. If the person hits sideways= sidespin. If the person hit the ball while the racket is going up, its topspin. 2. Look at the position of there body. This technique tends to work well with pendulum serves. If there elbow is high, they are either serving topspin or side spin. If there elbow is low, there serving backspin. My last way of reading serves is by looking at the ball. This technique is very difficult. If you have really good eyes, like mine, you can tell what spin is on the ball by looking at its rotation.

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    #5
    For me it's mainly experience. I mean, you can logically figure out what the contact is from bat movement, but you really don't have time to think like that in a game. For me I get better at reading serves every time I play. If you really watch the racquet the whole way through then you should see the spin. Also, think about the serves you missed so you can determine the spin on it. You can also ask someone what spin your opponent has on the ball.

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    #6
    I tend to believe in a simpler approach. Watch the motion of the racket carefully, and then pay careful attention to what your return does. Your brain will link that motion to what happened, and then adjust accordingly the next time you see that serve. There are, of course, two dreadful consequences to this approach - (a) if someone is really good at producing different spins with the same motion, you will miss it - you have to be able to figure out the relevant cues and pay close attention to them; and (b) you see a serve that you haven't experienced before; then there is some trial and error. The best solution is vast amounts of diverse experience, and really paying attention.

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    #7
    You can test the serve ball's spin, a sacrifice point.
    And then know how to return a serve of the same style next time (unless the player is too tricky)

    Test the ball's spin by placing the surface of the bat perpendicular (90 deg) to the projectile of the ball (approaching the bat).
    So that for a ball with no spin would bounce back (away from the bat) perpendicular the the bat again.

    So for a ball with a certain spin direction will cause the ball to bounce at an angle other than 90 deg.
    The more slanted the angle, means the more powerful the spin.

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    #8
    If you want to enhance your ability to read spin my advice would be to focus on the first bounce on your opponents side. The reason for this is because as you get better and play better players you will find their ability to mask or hide their variations in serve get better. What no player can hide is what the ball does prior to, during and after the first bounce on their side of the table.

    Here is what to do ask one of your practise partners to serve to you only using their topspin and variants of top spin. Learn to see what the ball does as it comes off the racket ( forward and down) watch what it does from the first bounce (kick towards you) watch what it does after the first bounce (stays low)

    Start by returning with a block so you can get a better understanding of the bat angles needed to handle top+ side or heavy topspin or light topspin.

    If you can do this for 15 mins every practise session you will quickly learn to identify topspin variants by how the ball behaves.

    Once you are confident with Top spin move on to other variants of spin.

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    #9
    Thx for all the usefull info i'm going to try it next week.

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    #10
    i wanted to ask the same question , thanks topspinner , and thanks to the ones who answers

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    #11
    Look at the elbow and wrist. Elbow is an easy place to give away if the serve is back or top spin.
    But most high level players have some fake actions after the serves to confuse you of its spin, so i still think the best way to determine a serve's spin is by looking at the trek of it flying.

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    #12
    I think it is not a problem if you can do drive exactly.. Spin is just spin. Certainly the angle will be changed by spin but you can hit it with much more powerful driving

    So practice for perfect drive. It is really hard though..
    Last edited by RyanLol; 01-19-2015 at 06:33 AM.
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    #13
    Learn to produce different spins with your serve and watch the ball path as the ball goes through the table. It helped me.

    The other thing is that if a fast racket motion produces a ball that comes short, that ball is loaded with spin. After all, if that fast motion didn't produce a fast ball, then the motion must have produced mostly spin, not speed. IF the ball comes long, it all depends on how powerful the server is, but it definitely will not be as spinny as their short serve.

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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by NextLevel
    Learn to produce different spins with your serve and watch the ball path as the ball goes through the table. It helped me.

    The other thing is that if a fast racket motion produces a ball that comes short, that ball is loaded with spin. After all, if that fast motion didn't produce a fast ball, then the motion must have produced mostly spin, not speed. IF the ball comes long, it all depends on how powerful the server is, but it definitely will not be as spinny as their short serve.
    Or it might be spinless with fake action.....
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    #15
    Yes. For me though, the fake action ball always looks funny. The contrast ball (light vs. heavy) is harder but then I have to study racket contact point.

    The good thing about service return is that, like everything in table tennis, as one gets better, some things become unconscious and this allows you to focus consciously on other things. This process never stops as long as you push it and make you better.

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    #16
    One riskier way but when mastered will really help is to pay attention to the ball's trajectory, speed, and bounce. In short, pay attention to the ball's behaviour. This can minimise the risk of falling into fake serve motion by better players but it requires quick attention and presence of mind to the ball's behaviour. When I'm playing with better players who has multiple spins on almost the same stroke, I minimise looking into his bat movement and wait for the ball to bounce.

    And of course, experience is a big help. Play as much as you can with different players to familiarise yourself with different serves. Remember that in table tennis, we only have 5 basic spins in serving--topspin, backspin, sidespin, sidetop,sidechop (also dead balls) and the ways to make them are slight deviations from the basic services like pendulum serve, basic chop serve, reverse pendulum, tomahawk, etc.

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  17. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #17
    Many good comments. Just to add to it. Because a slow topspin serve can look like a backspin serve if you don't know what to look for, and vice versa, here are a few things.

    I am talking about flight and arc of the ball on a serve. But I personally think you need to look at both the body position, what the racket does, the contact, where on the bat the ball contacts, position of the elbow. You have to look at those and the path, arc, of the ball.

    Der_Echte made a good point about how a ball that has a first bounce closer to the end line will probably be long and one close to the net will probably be short.

    A short topspin ball, even if you don't full see the kick, and it looks like it is floating, will have a rounder arc in its path. An underspin ball will have a flatter arc.

    I think sidespin are a little easier to see because you just see the curve (left or right) and how much curve. A lower flatter arc will show underspin and a rounder arc will show topspin.

    So, to disguise underspin a good player will have the ball come up a little off the racket to drop for the spin. Which almost duplicates the rounder arc from a topspin ball. But it still looks different.

    A friend who is a pretty high level player (2600+ USATT) told me he just can see the spin spin when he looks at the ball. I try. I watch. Sometimes I can see that a ball is loaded. Sometimes I can see that it is top or underspin and I just see it. But not most of the time. So you just keep working on it.

    Another friend who is not quite as high a level told me that topspin will leave ahead of the racket and backspin will lag behind the racket. I don't know if that is always true but that is a cool one that helps me quite often.

    So keep watching all the cues from the server, and keep watching the arc and path of the ball. And keep trying to watch the ball to see if you can gauge the spin.

    I sometimes have trouble seeing dead balls and then sometimes I go, "Oh, wow, I can see it has nothing!"
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    #18
    The art to the no-spin is to get the player to realize it a little too late, cause him to panic and watch the LULZ... or simply watch the look on hiz eyes/face when he returned it too high / too long and knows it is gunna get smacked. This serve is setup by your prior heavy underspin serves. Once you show you can make heavy, then same motion contact early with natural fake underspin followthrough is gunna get you places.

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  19. UpSideDownCarl is offline
    says I like to hit Heavy Topspin
     
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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Der_Echte
    The art to the no-spin is to get the player to realize it a little too late, cause him to panic and watch the LULZ... or simply watch the look on hiz eyes/face when he returned it too high / too long and knows it is gunna get smacked. This serve is setup by your prior heavy underspin serves. Once you show you can make heavy, then same motion contact early with natural fake underspin followthrough is gunna get you places.
    I remember you saying "this is my best serve," and serving short no spin. Hahaha. I go heavy and then no spin a lot.
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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl
    Many good comments. Just to add to it. Because a slow topspin serve can look like a backspin serve if you don't know what to look for, and vice versa, here are a few things.

    I am talking about flight and arc of the ball on a serve. But I personally think you need to look at both the body position, what the racket does, the contact, where on the bat the ball contacts, position of the elbow. You have to look at those and the path, arc, of the ball.

    Der_Echte made a good point about how a ball that has a first bounce closer to the end line will probably be long and one close to the net will probably be short.

    A short topspin ball, even if you don't full see the kick, and it looks like it is floating, will have a rounder arc in its path. An underspin ball will have a flatter arc.

    I think sidespin are a little easier to see because you just see the curve (left or right) and how much curve. A lower flatter arc will show underspin and a rounder arc will show topspin.

    So, to disguise underspin a good player will have the ball come up a little off the racket to drop for the spin. Which almost duplicates the rounder arc from a topspin ball. But it still looks different.

    A friend who is a pretty high level player (2600+ USATT) told me he just can see the spin spin when he looks at the ball. I try. I watch. Sometimes I can see that a ball is loaded. Sometimes I can see that it is top or underspin and I just see it. But not most of the time. So you just keep working on it.

    Another friend who is not quite as high a level told me that topspin will leave ahead of the racket and backspin will lag behind the racket. I don't know if that is always true but that is a cool one that helps me quite often.

    So keep watching all the cues from the server, and keep watching the arc and path of the ball. And keep trying to watch the ball to see if you can gauge the spin.

    I sometimes have trouble seeing dead balls and then sometimes I go, "Oh, wow, I can see it has nothing!"
    Yea I do those slow top/side spin serves for quick easy points. I have a heavy underspin serve with the exact same action. It works almost every time against normal amateur players, but it simply gets smashed back when i do it against pros. I had the opportunity to play with England No. 7 and 2 for this one time, I have never played them before, so I tried the service for one time and bam. I lost the point. Apparently they told me my elbow lifted way up for that serve so they pretty much know what I was trying....

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