Generating spin on serves

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Hi, You are discussing the very thing I emphasize to players if they really want their serves to get setups.

I always show my opponent right away my short serve is HEAVY, so I let opponent see that and get used to that, then pull the carpet out from under them with lighter serves using same motion.

Most players use way too long a motion and they gotta slow it down to make impact. A short whip is efficient and can be very violent with a very fast final bat speed. Short and direct path is reliable.
I was going to post something about relaxing and slowing down but I held back on posting to avoid confusion. But yes, slow down your motion. If you ever watch WCQ, something about his motion is very slow compared to all other cnt members. Slow down your toss- the more relaxed your serve is the less frantic it becomes.

I also do the same as Der; changing the amount of under. I always love doing the following sequence:

1st serve: short under to their fh side (assuming they stand in their bh corner)

2nd Serve: short no spin, same location.

the 2nd gets popped out 7/10 times.


also about toss length, I have found so much control and placement with short toss. Medium toss is alright- good variation. High toss- I say you have to be a high level player to get the most out of it. Harder to control, a lot easier to miss.
 
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Practice makes perfect!! And serves need to be given a reasonable amount of practice time.
I haven’t played for about 3-4 weeks due to an injury.
Today I opened up the garage and did some serve practice, what a shambles!! Ball toss consistency gone!! Which then leads to other issues as each toss is different, timing, touch and feel gone because each toss required a different timing, contact point etc!!!!
too fine a contact, too heavy, miss hits (loads of those!!!) balls netted, too high over net, consistency gone!!!
so when you are practicing and playing regularly serves become easier, especially if you start training routines with a ‘proper’ serve, but even so a dedicated hour for serves per week is
a good thing, or you can do 20 or so of each serve motion you have, FH pendulum, BH serve, punch / hook serve etc out of those 20 balls, 5 top/side, 5 back/side, 5 no spin, 5 pure side that sort of thing. As part of a warm up. If you practice 2 times a week, then 1st session 20 serves of 2 serve motions ( 40 serves total) 2nd session again 20 serves of 2 serve motions, but bring in the 3rd serve action ( if you have 3 serve actions) and rotate the serve actions so over a period of time things equal out.

20 of each motion? I have about 5 different motions copied from pros 😂

more practice for me I suppose.

 
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20 of each motion? I have about 5 different motions copied from pros 😂

more practice for me I suppose.

I have 4 basic serve motions or actions, and if fit, with time available I’ll try and hit around 100 balls per service action twice a week.

 
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When playing for points, do not do the same serve twice in a row. Being able to vary the speed and most importantly, spin keeps the opponent adapting/guessing. You should have many variation of serves to keep the opponent guessing/adapting.

A long time ago I lost to a person that had what I called a "wind shield wiper" serve. It had extreme side top spin I programmed my robot to generate the same serve. I adapted. After that I owned this guy.
 
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Thanks Der_Echte - I think thinking about it logically, it has to be down to biomechanics and I imagine your 3rd point is true with me - I'm stuck in a rut of an inefficient stroke, that hasn't changed over the years.

As much as I appreciate some of the replies - its not about levels or variation as its not like my serves are terrible, they are ok - but for variation without the heavy spin version in the first place the contrast isn't drastic enough to cause the deception. Yes, I'm comparing myself against better (in league terms) players than me, but surely thats an area of focus that can have a big effect? I don't see why thats a different question. Plus theres been many a time where a game against myself has been much closer than it needed to be as the other player had 'good' serves.

It's going back to basics and getting the whip right. Im still unsure wether Im able to change the pendulum serve I do as a worry it is so ingrained. So thats why I was maybe saying a BH serve might be a good way to start from scratch and a different angle?

The reason I asked the question on here in the first place is there are loads of videos on Youtube and online - but which ones are actually any good and what ones have people learnt from? Watching pros is good for some things but they have so much more time to practice and play the comparison is bonkers.

The backspin short serve is not complicated. There is adequate information online for it, so there is nothing new for the technique itself. The things making people different are different levels of touch feeling and accuracy, which means more training and practices.

The videos online want to deliver information as much as possible to cover every area about the serve. If you just want to focus on spin, too many information may have distracted you. The principle of the serve itself is that the racket angle should be more horizontal to cut the bottom of the ball. If you cut the ball in an open angle, say in an angle of 45 degree, you cut it harder to get more spin, but the ball will also move faster and it becomes a long serve.

Table Tennis Daily has a video demonstrating the way to serve backspin ghost serve. That is an extreme version of backspin short serve. The above is the principle, the rest are how you can improve your success rate and make it more deceptive.

--------------------------------------------------------now is my personal feeling----------------------------------------------------------------

[Please note I have deleted the following words, but for some reason the strikethrough line doesn't show up. I leave the words because Der_Echte doesn't agree with it and he is right. Please see his comment below.]For the short serve, wrist is enough. You move your arm more, the ball will move faster and it is no longer a short serve. Body rotation and weight transfer are not important, but if you only move wrist and don't move arm/body at all, your motion will looks weird and uncomfortable. So you can rotate your body, but don't move your arm. Moving arm for long serve only.

I agree with Der_Echte's verdict, I didn't express my feeling in a proper way. A man cannot achieve a fast swing without the movement of lower arm. I wanted to emphasize the importance of wrist in short serve, but I said it in a wrong way. I swing my lower arm as well when I serve short balls. But in my PERSONAL feeling, I use my lower arm for different purpose when doing short serve and long serve. When I serve short balls, lower arm moves only to accelerate the swing of wrist, but when I serve long balls, the force of lower arm will straightly go to the ball. I think that should be that the wrist doesn't relax in a same way.

 
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For the short serve, wrist is enough. You move your arm more, the ball will move faster and it is no longer a short serve. Body rotation and weight transfer are not important, but if you only move wrist and don't move arm/body at all, your motion will looks weird and uncomfortable. So you can rotate your body, but don't move your arm. Moving arm for long serve only.


Hi Lycanthrope,

Matt, Brette Clarke, Der_Echte, and a whole pile of coaches will strongly dispute your assertion that if you move your arm that the serve will go long as a rule. It is ESSENTIAL to move the lower arm for acceleration and as a lever for spin. A fast bat is NOT what causes players to serve long. Being too tight before impact and having bat not open enough are what causes serves to go long when trying for short serve.

The absence of lower arm movement is not what makes a serve short. (although you can make a serve short by simply slowing the speed of the bat) (but you lose spin, because the bat moves slower)

What makes a serve short (given a fast bat at impact) is your bat angle (thin contact), and grip change AT impact. The biomechanic for a FH pendulum and BH short serve are totally different, but the same principles apply. (fast bat, thin contact, proper bat angle and vector for the type of spin, and firming of grip AT impact)

Without using the lower arm, you will not get a fast bat with any control over timing at impact point.

You MIGHT be able to get some bat speed at impact with a little body twist and just your wrist, but it will still be a slower bat and will be WAY MORE DIFFICULT to time the impact... then there are other considerations that holistically factor into your serve and your game. It will be damn difficult to sell an opponent on variety... because it will be damn difficult to vary the serve with such technique.

You are not showing a good understanding of how to serve short and what makes a short serve, yet you discuss ineffective technique as standard and totally contradict the sound advice of effective coaches like Matt Hetherington and Brett Clark (who I think still coaches India's national team)

Yes, the is no single one way for everything in table tennis and there is big room to express a way to do something effective that is not like the way a pundit says... but physics and many principles apply to all shots and cannot be discounted. The bat speed, thin contact, bat angle, and firming of grip apply to all short serves regardless of the biomechanics used... and there only a few biomechanics that make these 4 things consistently with high degree of control and quality of result.
 
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good spin is important but there are other ways to pressure opponents

Always try to give opponents multiple problems with each serve

short or long
fast or slow
left or right
for a strong player one question is easy to deal with so always plan your serves to give simultaneous multiple tests

Paddy is making the point (the correct point) that there are other ways to create VARIATION than can cause trouble to opponents.

Spin variation is not the only way to have variation to trouble an opponent or control their response. A player relying solely on spin variation for serves can still cause a lot of trouble, but is using only a portion of what tools are available... and using the same tool over and over can be more easily read or adapted than the effective use of many tools.

Paddy's point is an excellent example of the concept that there is more than one way in table tennis.
 
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If you think about the physics of what you are trying to achieve the it is easier to zoom in on what is necessary to achieve the desired results. This is much better than a lot of trial and error AKA practicing the wrong thing and wasting time.

To get a lot of back spin and still keep the ball short, you need to hit the ball with the paddle face pointed nearly straight up. The paddle should be horizontal. This way only tangential forces will move the ball forward. It will also apply more of the energy to the spin. If you are really good, the paddle can be tilted backwards a bit. This requires even more paddle speed and is difficult to do. The ball must be thrown high enough to be legal. If you throw the ball too high it will bounce high and still be too easy to return. Throwing the ball high means you must make contact with the ball at a lower position to offset the higher bounce. Obviously a consistent ball toss and timing is required.

The next question is what is optimal? I like to practice serving the ball so it almost goes off the table but then rolls back to the net. This is a ball with the most energy as it requires a lot of back spin energy for the ball to stop the forward motion and go back to the net. I use a lot of wrist acton to achieve this. Hitting the ball near the tip of the blade helps too.
 
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The key to generating lots of spin is to understand how the rubber/bat and ball reacts to different contact points. Yes, wrist, arm, shoulder, waist can all be involved, the motion/speed/acceleration too. I think it is too difficult to type it out, my suggestion is trial and error. Get a bucket of balls, and go and practice serves. but stand there not bending or any pro like stance, just stand up right, and allow the arm to come down naturally and brush the ball, just with a slow motion of wrist and arm. Now look at the ball - namely back of the ball (middle line), then top part, lower part. Then you have left side / right side. Then you have all those in betweens. All those are contact points. then on your rubber you also have tons of contact points. So play with each contact point on the rubber onto the ball, and you can see for yourself on what spin you are generating. After say 100 of each, then try adding force of the moment of the arm/wrist, and increase you percentage more and more Then start adding body actions and power (power at the end). Most of the time, people tend to hit too hard (power) and the ball doesn't grip long enough. Once you have good feeling on what you are doing with the ball (and how you are doing it). Then you can start look at the placements of the first bounce, second bounce and the arc of the ball, the contact height of the ball (top down, or bottom up etc) Honestly, I don't know if the above makes sense at all. Hope you understand, and practice makes perfect. PS - many pros serve 1 hour a day for years. 1 hour is around 1000 serves
 
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Thank you @Der_Echte for pointing out my mistake. I have made the relevant adjustment in my post. Would you please see if there is any other things that I should correct in my post? I am saying it because you have stated "You are not showing a good understanding of how to serve short and what makes a short serve". It is a strong assertion that makes me think I was totally wrong about the whole of my post that I should delete the whole of my post, but I also think I may not be so wrong as there was something I was taught when I was young and confirmed by some current videos made by national level players.

 
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So I think a key problem I have, that I need to work on is generating heavier spin on serves and the ability to serve to get the best shot back to follow up on.
I can serve short - but it tends to have little spin, longer serves have spin but in comparison to how well I can spin up, or loop a FH, serving just doesn't get that same bite. It's not like I don't know how to spin the ball, or what the feeling should be. I do seem to get more spin on reverse pendulum than normal - possibly down to the more 'wristy' nature of that serve.

Maybe I would be better off trying to work on a BH serve.
Has anyone got any key tips, or how they approach it - or any success stories on how they have managed to take there service game forward?

Im a left-hander and always serve from the BH corner - and most successful serve that gets loose balls or the odd winner is really wide to the FH side of the receiver across court of the side of the table.
I have just attended a coaching session where I had the opportunity to learn the serves. These are some of the key take home points, if my memory serves me correctly ( The points are not listed in accordance to priority or importance but are rather based on what I remembered first )

1. Maintain a loose wrist. You'll need the wrist to generate the pendulum force to impart spin.

2. A the moment of impact, use your thumb to press or apply a little more force to stabilize / control the blade angle so that you can decide where to send the ball to.

3. Brush thinly to impart the most spin. You really need to brush the ball.

4. Maintain as much contact the ball with the rubber as you brush to get the most rotation.

5. Surprisingly, my coach said don't twist one's body to avoid sending the ball all over the place. Do maintain a fixed body position and only use one's wrist to brush the ball. Similarly do not use shoulder power or arm swing. He only wants me to use my wrist snapping power to generate the pendulum swing.

NB: The serve that I focused on that day was the conventional pendulum serve ( I am right-handed ). For me, point Nos. 5 is the most counter-intuitive. It is also the one point that is a major stumbling block for me to make a good conventional pendulum serve.
 
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Timo’s coach says to not practice serves for more than 30 minutes at a time because it’s too mentally draining

Doesn't mean he is right and doesn't mean he is wrong.
There are different coaching methods and many of them contradict each other.

Asians need to train min 6 hours a day, 40+ hours a week.
In the west, you don't even get half that.
In the west, you spend more time playing around than drilling in.

From the Asians, that goes to the west, they do struggle to adapt with the "lightness" of the training, then are amazed with the touch and skills of Timo. (This came from someone who went to Timo's club).
Then when he returned back to Asia, he struggled to keep up with the workload of the east.

At the end of the day, no single correct way to coach.
I know coaches that work on player serves hours a day, especially when developing new ones.
I've seen LGL groom some mens A player for over 30 mins too,

 
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Lycanthrope,

Display these vids of national players you mention, or even decent amateur players or coaches speaking or demonstrating that on the FH pendulum one should NOT use any arm movement to make a short underspin serve of quality... or advocating the same on a short shovel serve... or advocating the same zero arm movement on a short reverse pendulum serve... and/or show me a vid by the same advocating zero use of the upper arm and lower arm moving across/along the plane of the endline like a violin or bread cutting on a short BH serve and make me a believer.

The use of the lower arm on a FH pendulum short serve is to help generate bat speed and to act as a lever for the wrist to finish the acceleration.

Watch this serve vid from MaTT and all throughout the vid he is showing a basic swing where the lower arm is moving about a foot or less pivoting on the elbow joint on his FH pendulum serve (where he demonstrates a short serve). One does not need a long swing... it actually is harder to time. A short whip is very effective.
Look at MaTT's vid on SHORT SERVES. Watch his whip motion and see what he does to control depth, height, and spin.

Here is his TTD thread with his serve vids.

MHTableTennis Tutorial Videos (tabletennisdaily.com)

Look at Dan throughout the vid, but I timed it to show the slow-mo of his heavy underspin stroke on his FH pendulum serve. He uses the lower arm on his short serve.

Look at Brett Clarke's description of optimal serve motion for FH underspin. I timed the vid to show his slow-mo. He moves his lower arm about 1 foot and stops it before impact and allows wrist to move through to finish. Look at 2:02 of his vid where he REALLY whips to the ball and you see his FH accelerating forward, then stop and use wrist to finish. This is his motion and mechanics for the short underspin serve. He calls it shaking into the ball.
 
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Lycanthrope,

Display these vids of national players you mention, or even decent amateur players or coaches speaking or demonstrating that on the FH pendulum one should NOT use any arm movement to make a short underspin serve of quality... or advocating the same on a short shovel serve... or advocating the same zero arm movement on a short reverse pendulum serve... and/or show me a vid by the same advocating zero use of the upper arm and lower arm moving across/along the plane of the endline like a violin or bread cutting on a short BH serve and make me a believer.

The use of the lower arm on a FH pendulum short serve is to help generate bat speed and to act as a lever for the wrist to finish the acceleration.

Watch this serve vid from MaTT and all throughout the vid he is showing a basic swing where the lower arm is moving about a foot or less pivoting on the elbow joint on his FH pendulum serve (where he demonstrates a short serve). One does not need a long swing... it actually is harder to time. A short whip is very effective.
Look at MaTT's vid on SHORT SERVES. Watch his whip motion and see what he does to control depth, height, and spin.

Here is his TTD thread with his serve vids.

MHTableTennis Tutorial Videos (tabletennisdaily.com)

Look at Dan throughout the vid, but I timed it to show the slow-mo of his heavy underspin stroke on his FH pendulum serve. He uses the lower arm on his short serve.

Look at Brett Clarke's description of optimal serve motion for FH underspin. I timed the vid to show his slow-mo. He moves his lower arm about 1 foot and stops it before impact and allows wrist to move through to finish. Look at 2:02 of his vid where he REALLY whips to the ball and you see his FH accelerating forward, then stop and use wrist to finish. This is his motion and mechanics for the short underspin serve. He calls it shaking into the ball.
Thank you Der_Echte for your pointing it out again. I believe had corrected the relevant point on the lower arm and made relevant explanation on it.

I have agreed with you for the point of lower arm movement, and I have corrected my words that I had made before. I think you can now be relaxed, I am not arguing for it.

You even don't need to raise the videos. We can now use our arms, if we don't move lower arm at all, our wrist can only turn 90 degree. But if we slightly move our low arms, our wrist can turn almost 180 degree. So slightly moving lower arm can assistant our wrist movement.

The words about arm is just small part of my whole post, and I have corrected it now. I just want to know you disagree with me because this point only or the whole post.
 
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5. Surprisingly, my coach said don't twist one's body to avoid sending the ball all over the place. Do maintain a fixed body position and only use one's wrist to brush the ball. Similarly do not use shoulder power or arm swing. He only wants me to use my wrist snapping power to generate the pendulum swing.
https://youtu.be/PxzN34JWqYc?t=15
 
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I have just attended a coaching session where I had the opportunity to learn the serves. These are some of the key take home points, if my memory serves me correctly ( The points are not listed in accordance to priority or importance but are rather based on what I remembered first )

1. Maintain a loose wrist. You'll need the wrist to generate the pendulum force to impart spin.

2. A the moment of impact, use your thumb to press or apply a little more force to stabilize / control the blade angle so that you can decide where to send the ball to.

3. Brush thinly to impart the most spin. You really need to brush the ball.

4. Maintain as much contact the ball with the rubber as you brush to get the most rotation.

5. Surprisingly, my coach said don't twist one's body to avoid sending the ball all over the place. Do maintain a fixed body position and only use one's wrist to brush the ball. Similarly do not use shoulder power or arm swing. He only wants me to use my wrist snapping power to generate the pendulum swing.

NB: The serve that I focused on that day was the conventional pendulum serve ( I am right-handed ). For me, point Nos. 5 is the most counter-intuitive. It is also the one point that is a major stumbling block for me to make a good conventional pendulum serve.

Hi Gozo,
For pint 5, please see #26 and #27 for the discussion between Der_Echte and me.
Your coach is trying to deliver a feeling like me did. From a single sentence or words, you may get different understanding on the words, but that may not be what he wanted to tell you.
I believe your coach didn't want you to completely freeze your arm. He just wanted to tell you focus on the movement of wrist to generate spin.
If we don't move our lower arm at all, our wrist can only turn 90 degree, but if you slightly move our lower arm, our wrist can turn almost 180 degree. So when we focus on wrist movement, trying to turn our wrist faster, our lower arm will slightly move to follow the wrist movement, and that is natural. I think your coach will allow this slight lower arm movement.

In #35, Der_Echte also stated: "He moves his lower arm about 1 foot and stops it before impact and allows wrist to move through to finish." Some people see the movement of lower arm here, some people see lower arm stopped before impact.

Language is so complicated.

 
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Hi Gozo,
For pint 5, please see #26 and #27 for the discussion between Der_Echte and me.
Your coach is trying to deliver a feeling like me did. From a single sentence or words, you may get different understanding on the words, but that may not be what he wanted to tell you.
I believe your coach didn't want you to completely freeze your arm. He just wanted to tell you focus on the movement of wrist to generate spin.
If we don't move our lower arm at all, our wrist can only turn 90 degree, but if you slightly move our lower arm, our wrist can turn almost 180 degree. So when we focus on wrist movement, trying to turn our wrist faster, our lower arm will slightly move to follow the wrist movement, and that is natural. I think your coach will allow this slight lower arm movement.

In #35, Der_Echte also stated: "He moves his lower arm about 1 foot and stops it before impact and allows wrist to move through to finish." Some people see the movement of lower arm here, some people see lower arm stopped before impact.

Language is so complicated.

Maybe.

Maybe it is the pedagogical method of his teaching, i.e., step by step wise. First isolate the wrist then move on to arm then to body. I don't know. I will place a little faith in his teaching for the time being.

However, using the lesson learnt, I experimented with this new serve a couple of nights ago, I was able to serve with loads of side spin but they tend to be short and slow. Isolating the arm and body while not using them severely limit the long serves. These are my experience.



 
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Maybe.

Maybe it is the pedagogical method of his teaching, i.e., step by step wise. First isolate the wrist then move on to arm then to body. I don't know. I will place a little faith in his teaching for the time being.

However, using the lesson learnt, I experimented with this new serve a couple of nights ago, I was able to serve with loads of side spin but they tend to be short and slow. Isolating the arm and body while not using them severely limit the long serves. These are my experience.


Sure, different coaches have their different methods. I have seen that a player complained about the confusion when his coach was in absence and a temporary coach was coaching him, many answers and requirements were different from the previous coach.

 
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