deciding serving order in doubles

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Joined: 04/14/2013

I just purchased your book "Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers".  Since I just received it yesterday, I haven't had time to read it all, but have been flipping through it looking for ideas I might be able to apply in a tournament I will be playing in next weekend.  One of my events is Under 3400 doubles.  I think I understand from your reasoning that it is generally best for the weaker team member (that would be me: current rating 1598) to serve or receive first, but you didn't touch on how the serving team should decide their serving order for the fifth game, since the receiving order will change when one team reaches 5 points.  Do you have any advice on this? 

Joined: 04/18/2013
Re: deciding serving order in doubles

Wow, great tips Larry ! I think it's essentianl for a double to know these things, especially when it comes to competing in a tournament. I actually didn't know that either and didn't even think about it, but I feel like i now much more now. Hope the book is fine ! :) I might publish an article with these tips on my Table Tennis Blog linking it to here in the near future.

Larry Hodges
Larry Hodges's picture
Joined: 11/19/2010
Re: deciding serving order in doubles

What I'd recommend is set up the serving pattern so you have the best order when you switch at 5. Assume it will be close at that point, since if it's not close, the order will be less likely to affect things. So assume you will switch at 5-4. Whoever serves first will have just served again, and will be about to serve again. The advantage of having the order in your favor the second half of the last game is you'll likely play more points that way, especially if it goes deuce. (I wrote about this part in the Tactics book.) 

The thing to watch out for is that your team might be at its weakest when the weaker player on your team is receiving. So if the other team is serving first, have your stronger player receive. That way when it's 5-4, the stronger player will have just received, and then your weaker player will receive - but only one time. Then you'll be at your strongest, with the weaker player serving, and then the stronger player receiving (again). 

If your team is serving, have the weaker player serve. When you switch at 5-4, he'll still be serving, since it's the receivers who switch. Plus, he'll "lose" a receive as then the other team will next be serving to your stronger player. 

However, this is all theoretical. Sometimes a team is better with the stronger player serving, or the weaker player receiving, etc. (I wonder if I should elaborate more on this in the Doubles Tactics chapter. Perhaps I'll look it over for a future edition.) 

Hope this helps!

-Larry Hodges