Is it worth serving short ? - for amateurs

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Hello to everybody,

When you start playing tennis table, everybody will tell you that whatever you do you need to keep the ball low.
Since any ball exchange starts with a serve, it makes sense to serve short because in this way you can protect yourself from being attacked by your opponent from the beginning.
Everything makes sense until you start playing.
Indeed, a short serve cannot be attacked by your opponent, but the problem is that the opponent has a lot of other options against you for this type of serve.
He can flip it, he can drop the ball short over the net, he can push it short or long and even attack it quite strong with a banana flip for example.
By serving short, in a way, means that you want to take some pressure from the first receive (since the opponent cannot attack it theoretically) so you can focus on the 3rd ball.
The problem is that the opponent has a lot of options against you (the ones above and the one for example where you have to deal with your own spin for a pendulum side-backspin for example ) but since you are an amateur you do not have the necessary skills to properly handle those returns; ideally you should attack the 3rd ball but of course you will not be able to attack a lot of these balls so you will be the one who is going to make a weak return that will give the opportunity to your opponent to attack the 4th ball.
Based on the story above, my question is why not serve long and low?
For a long serve, the opponent most of the times is going to loop it (I am not talking about choppers); it will not push it, it will not drop it, it will not angle the racket at a proper angle to "go" with the incoming spin, etc.
Also, if I serve long, I will have more time to get into the ready position and prepare myself to loop/topspin the ball received from my opponent and I have to take care just on this type of return (which most of the time will be a long ball) instead of preparing myself to handle all those returns with side-spin, backspin, side-backspin, flips short/long, pushes, etc.


Best regards
 
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You'll have all the time to pick up the ball if you serve long.

 
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everything depends on your opponent. If he is not good at looping it is quite good idea to serve long, especially with sidespin. But most opponents even weak ones adapt to the serve aftr some time, and finally he will start giving you hard times.
Generaly speaking long serve for amateur players is very efficient but it is always better to do it from time to time, not always. Also short topspin or empty serve is very good is somebody has problems with reading spin. I really doubt somebody who has problems with answering long serves has very good flick.
 
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Harder to Do a good long serve than a good short serve in my opinion. Ger punished alot if the long serve is bad.

Also depends on your blocking game and their looping game.
 
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I like to do half-long serves once in a while just to catch my opponents off guard. At least in two cases, that has resulted in my opponents breaking their bats by hitting it at the edge of the table. Fast down the line serves are also often surprising.

Half long serves is better than short serves in my opinion. I often serve to short.
 
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Well variety is the best solution. Keeping your opponent off balance in what you're doing.

It kinda depends on what you are good at and what your opponent isn't.

If your opponent does not have a good attack and you prefer fast topspin play, sure you can serve them long and fast all day. Furthermore if you opponent has say only a good FH but not BH, same thing, Long serves to the BH are safe.

There's nothing wrong with long serves so long as you can get away with it. But you'd better have some good short serves in your bag when you run into more skilled players who will make you pay for those long serves with quality loops coming at you.

Conversely, if your strength is in short play, tactical placement, push game & touch or if you're simply better a this over your opponent, then long serves wouldn't set you up for what is your advantage.

I have a buddy at club who is close to my level who I practice with a lot. I can get him in fast topspin to topspin play but it's close. That being said, I know I have a distinct advantage in short play and getting him to push to me as looping backspin is the best part of my game. So even though I'm not a chopper, when his long serves come to me. Often times I'll chop or push those back to him just to not give him what he wants. So you can't just assume your long serves will always give you back topspin.
 
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Hello to everybody,

When you start playing tennis table, everybody will tell you that whatever you do you need to keep the ball low.
Since any ball exchange starts with a serve, it makes sense to serve short because in this way you can protect yourself from being attacked by your opponent from the beginning.
Everything makes sense until you start playing.
Indeed, a short serve cannot be attacked by your opponent, but the problem is that the opponent has a lot of other options against you for this type of serve.
He can flip it, he can drop the ball short over the net, he can push it short or long and even attack it quite strong with a banana flip for example.
By serving short, in a way, means that you want to take some pressure from the first receive (since the opponent cannot attack it theoretically) so you can focus on the 3rd ball.
The problem is that the opponent has a lot of options against you (the ones above and the one for example where you have to deal with your own spin for a pendulum side-backspin for example ) but since you are an amateur you do not have the necessary skills to properly handle those returns; ideally you should attack the 3rd ball but of course you will not be able to attack a lot of these balls so you will be the one who is going to make a weak return that will give the opportunity to your opponent to attack the 4th ball.
Based on the story above, my question is why not serve long and low?
For a long serve, the opponent most of the times is going to loop it (I am not talking about choppers); it will not push it, it will not drop it, it will not angle the racket at a proper angle to "go" with the incoming spin, etc.
Also, if I serve long, I will have more time to get into the ready position and prepare myself to loop/topspin the ball received from my opponent and I have to take care just on this type of return (which most of the time will be a long ball) instead of preparing myself to handle all those returns with side-spin, backspin, side-backspin, flips short/long, pushes, etc.


Best regards

Depends on your game. Paul Drinkhall serves long a lot but it suits his style. In general, short topspin and short no spin are strong.
 
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It is definitely worth learning how to serve short (and half long). With all the spins. However it may be in lower level matches serving short as a default would be a tactical mistake. It depends on a lot of factors. Many low level players do not attack backspin serves even if long so there is no need to serve short backspin except as a variation, just as a single example.

Many low level players are incapable of serving short. You want to have that weapon though.
 
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Well variety is the best solution. Keeping your opponent off balance in what you're doing.

It kinda depends on what you are good at and what your opponent isn't.

If your opponent does not have a good attack and you prefer fast topspin play, sure you can serve them long and fast all day. Furthermore if you opponent has say only a good FH but not BH, same thing, Long serves to the BH are safe.

There's nothing wrong with long serves so long as you can get away with it. But you'd better have some good short serves in your bag when you run into more skilled players who will make you pay for those long serves with quality loops coming at you.

Conversely, if your strength is in short play, tactical placement, push game & touch or if you're simply better a this over your opponent, then long serves wouldn't set you up for what is your advantage.

I have a buddy at club who is close to my level who I practice with a lot. I can get him in fast topspin to topspin play but it's close. That being said, I know I have a distinct advantage in short play and getting him to push to me as looping backspin is the best part of my game. So even though I'm not a chopper, when his long serves come to me. Often times I'll chop or push those back to him just to not give him what he wants. So you can't just assume your long serves will always give you back topspin.

If looping backspin is the best part of your game why are you pushing or chopping long backspin serves? Good way to not get your best shot in to start every point. Madness.
 
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A good Q.

I'm a penholder and he likes to serve long & fast to my BH with light backspin. I can loop it with RPB but my % of point wins on that is probably lower than a good TPB push/chop. I get a higher % in doing this and it gives him the ball he doesn't want. He'd much prefer I send him back topspin.

It kinda varies from opponent to opponent but generally if some likes to push or chop a ball that's off the table to my FH that works great for me. I'm banking on winning the point off the shot or thinking them keeping the block on the table will be difficult.

I'm left handed and 40. And while still fairly quick, it's not like I can move like I could in my 20s. :) So don't like to gamble too often on stepping around the BH on serves on the open up loop to hit a FH because if it's not a winner they're one block away to the open court for the point winner a la what you see happen to Xu Xin so often.

Best to learn that RPB open up IMO and stay more centered on the table. I'm getting there but is still, and probably will always be the main weakness in my game as I grew up learning the TPB and that's instinctively what my brain wants to do on that side... If I was learning penhold all over again, I'd just learn RPB pretty much full time.
 
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I have a buddy at club who is close to my level who I practice with a lot. I can get him in fast topspin to topspin play but it's close. That being said, I know I have a distinct advantage in short play and getting him to push to me as looping backspin is the best part of my game. So even though I'm not a chopper, when his long serves come to me. Often times I'll chop or push those back to him just to not give him what he wants. So you can't just assume your long serves will always give you back topspin.

^^^ Yes! I do this myself a lot. I'm quite comfortable chopping on backhand (even though I don't use it much), and often I use it as a surprise weapon against long fast serves. A lot of times I manage to keep the ball very low to the net by taking it a bit later and chopping it in the opposite direction. For example, if I receive a long serve from backhand to backhand, I often chop it with a bit of side spin towards the opponent's forehand. The resulting ball requires a good level of topspin+footwork to attack on, and at my level this is quite rare.

Also, I like to do a move I call it myself the pancake chop, where I show that I'm gonna chop (right foot in front, and open racket quite high) and suddenly I do a backhand topspin . It's a fun thing to do when the opponent doesn't expect it, and the resulting parallel loop is not easy to return. Now this is not very effective against strong opponents because I'm literally off balance afterwards, but again, at my level, kinda works.
 
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This is why I love amateur TT. Anything can work up to a certain level.

The real issue is whether you are playing amateur TT with a view of getting better and playing at a semi-professional level or with a goal of looking like a semi-pro. Because I'd you want to have a chance against a semi-pro, you need quality serves, usually short, and quality returns (and chopping only seriously counts if you are a chopper).

But if you want to leave out the aspirational part of the TT conversation, do whatever you want or like.
 
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This is why I love amateur TT. Anything can work up to a certain level.

The real issue is whether you are playing amateur TT with a view of getting better and playing at a semi-professional level or with a goal of looking like a semi-pro. Because I'd you want to have a chance against a semi-pro, you need quality serves, usually short, and quality returns (and chopping only seriously counts if you are a chopper).

But if you want to leave out the aspirational part of the TT conversation, do whatever you want or like.

+1

This largely influences one's direction. I play close to USATT 2000 and am about 50/50 with one of our club's traveling tournament players who is at that level. (realizing that styles vary. I might run into another 2000 player who'd wipe the floor with me)

I've said for a long while that I think up until about 2000, largely the more consistent player will win. Now when I play the kid who is 2100 at our club. He usually 3-0s me and I'll occasionally get a game off him. That starts to be at the level where you can't just be consistent but attacking (I'm an attacking player) and hit your shots with quality and in because just keeping the ball on the table won't cut it.

And vs him I'd advise to not serve long. And if he serves me long? I'm looking to generally attack because if I where to push or chop vs him, it just won't go well. That's my impression on what I see. I cannot speak to level much past 2100 as I've never played anyone that or beyond. But it's my guess at that level, you simply have to play a game and tactics much more close to what you see in the pro game.

Why I love this game and the variety of tactics. It really does depend on the opponent. I'm at the stage where I'm just looking at "what do I have to do to give myself the best chance to win vs this opponent" vs "how should I play as if I were playing like a 2000+ player? What shots should I be executing vs what?" That line of thinking has largely given me a bunch of Ls trying stuff beyond my skill level and frustrates me. So I've largely opted for trying to just play the opponent in what will work right then & there realizing that'll cap my level which is okay. I'm not a traveling tournament player and do not have the time or resources (coach available) to push myself must past where I'm at. To really push much past where I'm at, i'd probably have to plat I'd say 15 more hours a week and get a coach (which a penhold coach isn't here in Lincoln NE). So it's just not much in the cards. Plus I'm 40 so it's not like i'm getting any faster ;)
 
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Like everything else in table tennis it really depends on your skills and your opponents skills. The basic idea when serving is to get an easier return to start the attack. So whether its short or long , spinny or no spin it all depends on how your opponent can handle that and how you can handle the return. During practice or training you should put an equal emphasis on all different kinds of serves and spins , while serving and returning and during match play you should be able to figure out what works best against that opponent (s) , plural if you are involved in a doubles match ... thats why its super important to give different looks to the opponent during the match and try to figure out the best strategy ...
 
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I think it can work well to push long on serves, as long as it is quality pushes. Maybe better to push the ball back good, and be ready to block a somewhat easy ball because of a good push instead of doing a bad flick, short push or opening loop and get harder ball against you.

I also think long pushes on serves proably works well today with the plastic ball. Less spin on the opening loops make it easier to do a counterloop. Before you were proably more forced to use more of a block.

I can imagine that one problem with pushing long is that players do it badly, there are no quality. Proably because they do not practice it so much. I think it can be worth practicing long pushes, because it is hard to push all returns short well if you have trouble reading the spin of the serve. The opponents maybe is also very good at the short game with pushing and flip so a long push is more suited. And like i said if you have good blocking game or counterloop a long push can be a playing style of yours.

Your blocks and counterloop is just as good as the pushes are. Do not matter if you have Samsonovs blocks if you do a bad push, they will loop to hard and difficult.

I like playing games once in a while with only pushing. There i can work on waiting for the ball and make a late decision so it is hard for the opponent to see if i will push short or long. I can work on pushing different lengths and placement. I can work on pushing nospin and backspin, and aswell fake these. I can also work on pushing slow or fast. I do not think you should push more balls in a row, but only pushing game is a good why to try the push as a return of the service.
 
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Serving short to the FH works great for me especially when meeting slightly weaker players. Most beginners has got a worse FH push than their BH equivalent. Heavy backspin with a few variations of no spin or side top works great. You notice quite soon if it works or not if they kill the balls with flicks or similar.
 
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Martin summed it up... for those with ma long video game copy cat fh flip, I try to find the middle.

Spin variation on serves is almost worthless if I do not show opponent my heavy serve is heavy. Once opponent is accepting heavy, time to change that order of pommes frittes to the no spin.

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Lula said:
I like playing games once in a while with only pushing.

There i can work on waiting for the ball and make a late decision so it is hard for the opponent to see if i will push short or long.

I can work on pushing different lengths and placement.

I can work on pushing nospin and backspin, and aswell fake these.

I can also work on pushing slow or fast. I do not think you should push more balls in a row, but only pushing game is a good why to try the push as a return of the service.

Well said, an effective push can do many things.

I like asking many adult players to do a push only game. Forces better quality and consistency.



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