October 2, 2014

Different Short Serve & Follows

There are no rules, but here are a few guidelines that many players often don't realize or think about. You have to think about these things so you can make them a habit, and then you don't have to think about them as much, except tactically.

When serving short backspin, most opponents won't attack the serve until the higher levels, but they may be able to push low and heavy. So you might have to focus more on spin on your first loop. However, if you serve short and low no-spin while faking backspin (i.e. "heavy no-spin"), you'll get mostly pushed returns that tend to pop up more and with less spin. So when you serve these types of no-spin serves, be ready to end the point with loop kills and smashes. (Don't use 100% power - a well-placed shot at 80% is more consistent and a higher percentage shot.) I'm always surprised by how few players below the higher levels effectively use backspin and no-spin serves - most will serve straight backspin over and over and over, perhaps mixing in a few obvious deep topspin or sidespin serves.

While you're at it, besides serving short backspin and no-spin, why not short side-top? It's not that hard to learn. Learn to do it with essentially the same motion as your backspin and no-spin serves. Result? Opponents will tend to pop them up or go off the end. (But don't overuse them and let opponents get used to them.) Learn to serve with a semi-circular motion so you can serve different spins with the same motion. Here's how.

When you can serve short backspin, sidespin/topspin, and no-spin, and do so with a similar motion, and to all parts of the table, you have a nice arsenal - try them all out and see which ones are effective against various opponents. If you keep throwing these different serves at an opponent, they'll have great difficulty. And when they are having great difficulty, that's when you throw a deep serve at them as still another surprise, and watch them completely fall apart.

Okay, it's not that easy, but done properly, over the course of a match, these serve variations will wear down an opponent and often win the match for you.

I keep talking about short serves (i.e. serves that, given the chance, would bounce twice). Actually, below the 2000 level, tricky long serves are often more effective than short serves. Below the 2000 levels even most backspin serves tend to go long, but they are still most often pushed back. (Here's what you should do against short backspin serves.) But it's those short serves that'll allow you to serve and attack over and over, which is why at higher levels most serves are short, with long serves a variation.

You do understand the purpose of the serve, right?

French Translation of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

My book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is being translated into French. The translation is now about halfway finished, and should be done in the next 1-2 months. Hopefully it'll be on sale in the French version of Amazon by the end of the year. (Here are all my books; buy some!!!)

USA Nationals

Don't forget to enter! They are Dec. 16-20 in Las Vegas.

2014 Asian Games

They are taking place in Incheon, KOR, Sept. 27 - Oct. 10, and have already finished the Teams (China swept). They are now into singles and doubles. Here's the ITTF Asian Games page, with articles and a link to results on the right. There's also coverage at Tabletennista.

2014 Asian Games Team Final, Ma Long vs Joo Sae Hyuk

Here's the video (9:50, with time between points removed) between attacker Ma Long of China and chopper/looper Joo Sae Hyuk of South Korea.

Physical Training for Kids in Thailand

Here's the video (1:06), with some of these drills taught in the ITTF Coaching Courses.

World Anti-Doping

Here are news items/press releases from the ITTF on the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Pong Glasses

This announcer found it hard to see the action without his glasses. Right?

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