The types of spin the pros put on serves?

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When i watch those top level pros play their serves are all very high quality and deceptive. I personally can't read them every time.

So I was wondering in match play, what spins they put on the ball?

I know that Backspin-sidespin and Topspin-sidespin and no spin is all widely used in their serves.

But what about a pure backspin, or pure sidespin, or pure topspin serve - are these spins combinations ever used?

EDIT: i personally can't tell just by watching on TV unless i actually received their serves, which is why i ask
 
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I have faced serves of pro players (more often former pros than current pros, but at least once a guy in the world top 100 at the time).

They put a wide range of spins on the ball. The same ones we use. The difference is not the total amount or direction of spin (or not just that, since their heaviest spins are heavier than mine, and my serves are really good). Instead, it is that they spin is varied over a ridiculous range and always looks the same. So you may know exactly which way the ball is spinning but if you don't also know exactly how much, you are in trouble. This true regardless of whatever their favorite serve motion might be. Also they can put the serve exactly where they want it, and in the same place from a variety of rhythms and trajectories that mess you up if you don't quickly recognize that variable.

They have different serves that look the same. Sometimes it is the same serve but looks completely different. And you just need to be off on the return by a few percent and on the next ball you are toast.

Like everything else pros do compared to amateurs, they are just vastly superior.

I once asked Jimmy Butler if he uses the same serves against guys who are threat to him as when he played with me and he said that he did, he needed to use everything he had and he felt that serving was one of the few elements of his game that was often better than his opponent. Eric Owens spent a lot of time teaching me to make sure that my "dead" serves had a enough spin on them that it was not immediately obvious that they were dead, and to make sure that they looked as much as possible like "heavy" ones. If you master that trick alone, you can get really good. Watch Ma Lin. He would sometimes annihilate people with just two different serves.
 
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Jim is famous for his serves ...
I have faced serves of pro players (more often former pros than current pros, but at least once a guy in the world top 100 at the time).

They put a wide range of spins on the ball. The same ones we use. The difference is not the total amount or direction of spin (or not just that, since their heaviest spins are heavier than mine, and my serves are really good). Instead, it is that they spin is varied over a ridiculous range and always looks the same. This true regardless of whatever their favorite serve motion might be. Also they can put the serve exactly where they want it, and in the same place from a variety of rhythms and trajectories that mess you up if you don't quickly recognize that variable.

They have different serves that look the same. Sometimes it is the same serve but looks completely different. And you just need to be off on the return by a few percent and on the next ball you are toast.

Like everything else pros do compared to amateurs, they are just vastly superior.

I once asked Jimmy Butler if he uses the same serves against guys who are threat to him as when he played with me and he said that he did, he needed to use everything he had and he felt that serving was one of the few elements of his game that was often better than his opponent.
 
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Yep. His long serves are especially nasty because when he is practicing a lot he can consistently get them on or very close to the white line and he doesn't have a "tell" that lets you know it is coming.
 
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Yes, I have seen him do that stuff in person a while back in the national team trials in san jose ... I had a pong friend who used to be able to serve serves similar to him ( hook serves ) and had enormous amount of variations ... infact his entire game was built on serves , he became 2200 just because of his serves, his mental game was poor, his forehand was good but could get inconsistent and his backhand was very inconsistent for his level ... but the thing is because of the nature of the hook serve , its easier to hide the contact with the paddle in the after motion itself ... and it becomes really hard to tell ...
Yep. His long serves are especially nasty because when he is practicing a lot he can consistently get them on or very close to the white line and he doesn't have a "tell" that lets you know it is coming.
 
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As an example, the serve Ma Lin is best known for is a pure backspin / no-spin variation so yes, it is used. This serve was quite popular at that time, because you can't do much on it and it gives 3rd ball kill opportunities.

In comparison serves with some element of side-spin are much easier to flip, although it is possible that the emergence of the banana BH flip makes that statement not as true as before (?). I've heard interviewed pros mention Chinese players don't use backspin / no-spin as much nowadays, and that may be the reason why. I can't recall what they said the reason was. It's very possible that they just want their serve to be flipped ("weakly") to get a strong counter, which gets them into the rally quickly and with an advantage.

I'm not sure the backspin / no-spin variation is as good a serve to get you into a rally with an edge. If the opponent can read and return it well enough to stop 3rd ball kills, maybe it defeats part of the point.
 
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My best guess would be that the third ball attack from a side spin serve is more difficult to block/defend/counter because some element of the side spin from the serve still remains , and makes the trajectory of the opening attack more unpredictable compared to one from the ball you get using a backspin / no spin combination .... Ma Lin had one of the best ever opening loop/ third ball attack against backspin ever ... so he did not need the side spin from his serves to make his opening loop more potent ... .

As an example, the serve Ma Lin is best known for is a pure backspin / no-spin variation so yes, it is used. This serve was quite popular at that time, because you can't do much on it and it gives 3rd ball kill opportunities.

In comparison serves with some element of side-spin are much easier to flip, although it is possible that the emergence of the banana BH flip makes that statement not as true as before (?). I've heard interviewed pros mention Chinese players don't use backspin / no-spin as much nowadays, and that may be the reason why. I can't recall what they said the reason was. It's very possible that they just want their serve to be flipped ("weakly") to get a strong counter, which gets them into the rally quickly and with an advantage.

I'm not sure the backspin / no-spin variation is as good a serve to get you into a rally with an edge. If the opponent can read and return it well enough to stop 3rd ball kills, maybe it defeats part of the point.
 
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Nice thread/topic.
I’m not saying just anyone can do it at his lel even pros, but I’m somewhat surprised more leftys pro’s or right handed players even against lefties don’t incorporate He zhiwen type long corkscrew. His very wide placement plus spin seems to create such an advantage even when it’s attacked. I guess I’ve seen schlager do this serve wide against lefties like He Z does to righties.

speaking schlager, hard to read serves and from earlier post hook serves has anyone seen the video of par gerell serve vs schlager in the euro championships? Maybe 2015 not sure. I have not been able to find this video lately but there was one that showed they typical hi lights of the match that you always see, but after that it went back and showed all the missed or poor service returns by schlager. Witch was alarming high amount and not typical of schlager. Anyway I agree A good hook serve is really hard to read and surprising effective.


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My two cents:

Shortish pure backspin is most difficult to attack - the opponent is likely to push - you can open up
But it is easy to drop short and get you into passive position if the opponent reads it correctly = you need different levels of backspin and a no-spin variation which all look the same.
This way you get balls into the net, pop-ups or safe harmless returns.
If the opponent knows it will be short he will be close to table - which makes him extremely vulnerable to long serves. So you need to mix up long fast with short light/heavy backspin and no spin and be good at opening up/3rd ball kill of a push to use this strategy.

Sidespin backspin/topspin variations are great for half-long serves
they are more difficult to push = easier to flick
but you know where the ball will come due to the sidespin = you counterattack the slow flick = like open play

short backspin/no-spin/long fast serves = Ma Lin, forehand oriented, prevents opponent from attacking, has a great push game over the table
half-long sidespin serves = Wang Hao - he lets the opponent open up weakly to topspin powerfully with his backhand

Reversed sidespin:
- curls into the body/FH = the short FH is the biggest weakness of Europeans due to shakehand grip and no sticky rubber
- tries to avoid the strong BH-flick of the opponent
- is very difficult to execute perfectly regarding the length - Timo Bolls serves tend to drop long and get punished when he is nervous
- exact dosage of backspin/topspin is difficult.

It todays two-wing topspin play play with the plastic ball, BH-banana flip and almost everybody a shakehander with few top players with sticky rubbers worldwide, the reverse-pendulum serves are probably the most effective. But every top player has all the serves even if he prefers only some and can adjust during the play/according to the opponent. They will find out what the opponent does not like and serve it to him like a dish...:D

Some interesting suggestions to search for on YouTube:
Ma Lin vs. Wang Hao Olympics final - it is a battle of tactics of backspin/no-spin vs. sidespin - Ma Lin wants to 3rd ball kill a push - Wang wants to BH-flick everything - you know the outcome:D
Yoshida Kai - he shows three different long fast serves into the backhand
 
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