For new ping pong players, learning how to improve their ping pong serve is the number one difference maker in taking their game to a competitive level. If you’ve just picked up ping pong, each serve is followed by a familiar feeling of dread for the return, mostly because more experienced players return the ball with vicious speed and a screwball spin. While most anyone can volley effectively in ping pong, serving is the real key to the game of top players. Use the following guide to improve your own ping pong serve and start winning matches consistently.
- Before trying to learn alternative serving styles, focus on ball placement. The biggest problem with most ping pong serves is players focus too much on speed and spin. The real point winner, though, is actually ball placement. Even if you have a wicked fast serve, it will be very returnable for any decent opponent if it bounces in the middle section of the table.
- When you can place the ball well, learn how to add some spin. If you’ve ever watched professional ping pong competitions, you know that the best ping pong serves have a nearly unhittable spin. Though it takes years of practice to master ping pong serving techniques, you can add some sort of spin pretty easily on your own serves. The first, common among new players, is called the short backspin serve. It is performed much like an ordinary forehand serve, except you should snap your wrist in a forward motion, moving the paddle from the bottom to the top of the ball as your paddle makes contact with the ball. This backspin will give the ball a much lower and faster trajectory after the serve’s first bounce. The second serving style popular among newcomers is called the backhand sidespin serve. Instead of serving it from a forehand position, toss the ball in the air and hit it with a backhand motion. As you make contact, add a quick sideways slashing motion. This will make your serve a curveball, twisting in the opposite direction of your sideswipe after the first bounce.
- Remember the qualities of a great ping pong serve: practice and focus. When you’re practicing your serving techniques and ball placement, treat the process much like a golfer does driving practice. Grab a whole bucket of balls and serve continuously until you’re out. Focus on putting the correct type and amount of spin on the ball and be sure that you’re mastering the nuances of each technique (like snapping your wrist on contact, for example). With patience and drive, your ping pong serve will improve to nearly impossible to return levels.
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