Coaching Tip – A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact

When you serve, do you just serve? Or do you stop and visualize the serve first? And when you visualize the serve, do you visualize all of it, or just part of it? You should visualize the entire journey the serve takes, all nine feet of it (or 10.3 feet, if you serve crosscourt).

Contact point: How high from the table? Most players contact the ball too high, and so the ball bounces too high. Also, how far behind the endline? For spin serves, contact the ball just behind the endline – any further back simply gives the receiver more time to react, plus it’s harder to control the depth from farther back, especially if you want to serve short. For fast & deep serves, contact is farther back so that the first bounce can be near your endline. Finally, where on the racket is the contact? For maximum spin, generally on the point on the racket furthest from the spin (the fastest moving spot). Or near the handle if you want to fake spin but serve no-spin. Visualize the contact

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Table Tennis Tip: Moving opponents in and out

Most players learn early in their table tennis lives the importance of moving opponents side to side, playing the three spots – wide backhand, wide forehand, and the opponent’s middle (the transition point between forehand and backhand, usually around the playing elbow). However, a quote from a Dan Seemiller camp from many years ago has always stood out for me. He said moving an opponent in and out was even more important than moving them side to side.

The two main examples of this are:

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Table Tennis Tip: Exaggerate the Opposite Motion on Serves

If you serve backspin, you follow through down, right? And if you serve topspin, you follow through up, right?

WRONG! At least, you shouldn’t. Instead, right after contact, try changing the direction of your racket and exaggerate the opposite motion. Don’t try to bring the racket to a stop and reverse directions; whip it about in a tight semicircle, making it almost impossible for the opponent to pick up just when you contacted the ball.

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Austin Preiss Talks About His Table Tennis Game, Equipment, Training and Play

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Austin Preiss has a long and steeped career in table tennis. Both as a player and as a touring professional with his father Scott. Together they have traveled the world giving table tennis exhibitions to military personnel, school kids, and to employees of large and small companies. Last July Austin took time to talk about his game, his equipment, training and philosophy.

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Table Tennis Tip: Those Dizzying No-Spin Serves

A low, heavy backspin serve is difficult to attack, especially if you serve it short or to the opponent’s weaker side. For that reason it is often the serve of choice for many attacking players who are looking for a passive return to attack. However, there are several problems you face with this serve. If you serve with heavy backspin, it’s easy for an opponent to dig into it and push it back low and heavy – your own backspin rebounds off their open racket with backspin. If you serve it long, it’s easy to loop with heavy topspin, converting your own backspin into topspin. If you serve it short, it’s easy to push back short and low, making it difficult to attack. How do you overcome these problems?

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Coaching Tip: Sidespin Loops

The hooking sidespin loop had its heyday in the early 1970s, with the rise of Hungary’s Istvan Jonyer, the 1975 World Men’s Singles Champion. Jonyer looped with a straight arm, and would often contact the ball on the far side, hooking the ball to the left (he’s a righty) with incredible sidespin. Often his racket tip would point straight down at contact, giving him essentially 100% sidespin. When players went to his forehand side, often he would loop around the net, with the ball barely rising above table level, and mostly rolling when it hit the far side – nearly unreturnable. Primarily because of Jonyer, the rules were changed, requiring the net to project six inches outwards. This makes around-the-net loops rare, though top players still do this shot sometimes from the very wide forehand.

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