August 31, 2015 - How to Serve to the Backhand Attacking Receiver

One of the most difficult and often frustrating players to play is the one who seems able to attack all of your serves at will, even short backspin serves. In your attempt to get the attack, you might serve short backspin serves, but he just reaches in and backhand flips them.

You could just accept this, and play rallies with him, where each rally on your serve starts with you having to counter-attack off his backhand flip. But that means giving up your serve advantage – and since you still have to face your opponent's serves, is likely a losing tactic. However, there's a better way of looking at this. You can't stop him from attacking your serves, but you can make him miss a good percentage of them. How to do this? There are three main ways.

First, you challenge him with extremely low and heavy backspin serves, with a few no-spin serves thrown in to mess him up. Many players think they are serving low, but their serves actually cross the net too high and bounce too high. (Here's a Tip of the Week on Serving Low.)  Or they think they are serving heavy backspin but aren't getting enough spin. (Here's a Tip of the Week on How to Create a Truly Heavy Backspin Serve.) Or they don't vary their backspin serves with no-spin serves. (Here's a Tip of the Week on Those Dizzying No-Spin Serves.)

Second, you challenge him by varying the spin and placement, and mixing in long serves. Here are some Tips of the Week on these: Serving Short with Spin; Where to Serve Short; and Turn Opponents Into Puppets with Long Serves.

Third, you can serve from the middle or forehand side of the table so you have an angle into the short forehand, and then vary between serving short to the forehand and long to the backhand, using the same motion. (It's most effective if you can serve short to the forehand with a backhand sidespin type serve.) Here's a Tip of the week on Serving Short to Forehand and Long to Backhand.

Ultimately, you cannot stop a receiver from trying to attack your serves, but you can maximize the number of mistakes he'll make in doing so. If he makes too many, either you win from that, or he'll have to reconsider his aggressive receives.