December 7, 2017

How’s Your Big Breaking Serve Into the Backhand?
I had an interesting “comeuppance” recently when I was explaining to several players the importance of including deep serves in your serving arsenal, and going over the more valuable types – fast down-the-line, no-spin to the middle, and big breaking serves to the backhand. One of them finally asked me, “Larry, what’s a big breaking serve?” Turned out at least two listeners had no idea what I meant.

A “big breaking serve” is one that curves a lot. Probably the most successful and most commonly used is deep into the backhand, so that it breaks away from the receiver. This is most commonly done with a forehand pendulum serve from the backhand side, crosscourt, between two righties (or two lefties). For righties against lefties, and vice versa, it's most commonly done with a forehand tomahawk serve from the forehand side. 

One of my regular demos when I talk about serves in a clinic is to show the difference between a fast topspin serve and a big breaking sidespin serve. I’ll have a volunteer – someone who’s not too strong – return my serve. When I give him a fast topspin serve, he has no trouble returning it. But then I throw the big breaking serve, and he’s caught off guard, reaching for the ball, and his return goes flying off the side and way past the end. I did this demo in a private session yesterday with a junior player to instill in her the importance of learning to put spin on the serve.

At the Teams, during a timeout, I asked one of the junior players I was coaching if he could do a big breaking serve to the opponent’s backhand, and he asked me what that was. I explained that it was a deep sidespin serve to the backhand that would break away from the receiver. He said he could do it. He went back and served a straight topspin serve that the opponent smacked back for a winner. Later I asked the player about it, and he admitted that he didn’t really have a deep sidespin serve, but he was working on it. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have told him to use it!!!

So  . . . how’s your big breaking serve into the backhand? Can you curve it so it goes away from the receiver, forcing him to reach for it, and making good returns difficult? (For one thing, most players cannot return this serve down the line, and so predictably return it crosscourt, so you can set up for the return.) If not, what are you waiting for? Done properly, it’s often a free point!!! Against top players, of course, it usually gets looped, but even against them, if used sparingly, it can cause havoc.

On a related note, here’s the primary reason why so many players have trouble with serves that break away from them, whether on the backhand or forehand. They instinctively set up to receive them with their racket at the right height. And then, when they realize the ball is curving away, they step or reach for it – but as they do so, they lower their racket. It’s a natural reaction, but spells disaster. With their racket now too low, they either lift the ball off the end, or to keep it on the table they roll it back weakly. If they’d just kept their racket at the proper height they’d had before reaching they’d make a much better return.

T2 Grand Finals
Here’s their home page, with links to the matches. The Championship playoffs start today (Thursday), and continue to the Finals on Sunday. Today’s matches start at 6PM GMT, which is 1PM Eastern Time in the U.S. Playing today:

  • Shi Xunyao vs. Feng Tianwei
  • Chuang Chih-Yuan vs. Timo Boll
  • Liu Fei vs. Bernadette Szocs
  • Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs. Jun Mizutani

How to Attack a Backspin Ball with a Forehand Topspin
Here’s the article and video (9:38) by Tom Lodziak.  

Present in Astana Makes Feng Tianwei the Leading Lady
Here’s the ITTF article on the upcoming ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, Dec. 14-17 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Weiqiao in First Place as Lin Gaoyuan Crushes Xu Xin
Here’s the ITTF article on the Chinese Men’s Super League.

2017 Junior Worlds - A New Swedish Future Waldner?
Here’s the article and video (6:55, of the Boys’ Singles Final) by Shashin Shodhan.

The Table Tennis Coaching Ambush
Here’s the article by Coach Jon.

Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong: China Super League 2017-2018
Here’s the video (6:09).

Great Hand-Switch Point by Timo Boll
Here’s the video (33 sec).

TopSpin Charity
Here’s the video (2:04).

People vs. Ping Pong
Here’s the hilarious video (1:35), which I somehow didn’t link to when it came out in October.

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