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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Table Tennis Tip: Quick and Variable Blocks

Someone recently asked me why it was important to block loops quick off the bounce. He thought that taking the ball quick off the bounce made it harder for the blocker to react, and made the shot more predictable for the opponent. However, it’s actually easier and more consistent to block a loop off the bounce, and the lack of variation from this only happens if the blocker doesn’t vary his block.

You do want to block loops off the bounce. If you take it late, you have more ground to cover (often with little time to react, depending on the speed of the loop), as well as having to predict the ball’s fast and low bounce off the table. Even more important, blocking quick off the bounce allows you to both rush and angle an opponent. If you take the ball late, your opponent has time to react to your shot, and the block loses its effectiveness.

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Table Tennis Tip: Forcing an Opponent Out of Position

There are a number of ways to effectively force an opponent out of position. You can do this by either moving him side to side or in and out or some combination of this. In practical terms, here are ways to do so.

Corners – You play one ball wide to either the forehand or backhand. As the opponent moves wide to return the shot, he either leaves the other wide corner open, or he moves to cover that side so quickly that he leaves the other corner open. (This is really two tactics, since you can start by going wide to either the forehand or backhand.)

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Table Tennis Tip: Why You MUST Attack the Deep Serve

Against a short serve, you can take the ball quick and rush the opponent, you can go for angles, and you can drop the ball short. So have a number of ways to mess up an opponent without actually attacking the serve. This is where you can get really creative.

Against a deep serve, you don’t have these options. You can’t rush the opponent with a quick shot, go for extreme angles, and you can’t return it short. If you return the deep serve passively, you are giving your opponent lots of time to set up his best shot. So don’t.

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