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Table Tennis Serves

The serve in table tennis plays an important part in the game, and players use good serves to put themselves in control of a rally. Here's more...
Before you learn how to serve properly, you need to understand the grip and the four strokes - the forehand push, the backhand drive, the forehand drive, and the backhand push. It's important to learn the different serving techniques like the spin and the top spin.
You also need to watch out which way the ball spins, so that you can return the ball efficiently. You should try to keep your opponent unbalanced through your returns and serves.

How to Serve

Try to follow the exercise mentioned below, so that you know the basic technique of serving.
  • While holding the racket, you should hold it in an open angle. It should seem as if you are playing a backhand push. With the other hand, grip the ball with the help of the first finger and thumb at about 30 cm above the racket.
  • Let it drop, and then serve.
  • While serving, make sure that the ball bounces on your side first, and then bounces on the opponent's side after crossing the net.
  • Repeat this exercise several times, till you are successful consistently.
  • After you have got used to this technique, you can stand away from the net, and then practice the same exercise.

Types of Serves

You can opt to serve hard and fast, or you can spin the ball. Usually, new players serve flat with no spin, but better players spin the ball, thereby affecting its curve and bounce. Some of the most common serves in table tennis include the backspin, the side-spin, the topspin, and the no-spin. Let's take a look at each of them.


In a topspin, while hitting the ball, the paddle slides over it. If you hit the ball with enough force and in the proper way, the ball would curve downwards after bouncing on the opponent's side of the table. If you can master hitting the ball in such a way that it lands near the end of the table, it would make returning the ball all the more difficult for the opponent.


In this type of serve, the paddle is brought across the body while serving, so as to give the ball the required spin. If you are a right-hander, the ball would spin clockwise, while a counter-clockwise spin would be created when you serve with your backhand.


Also called the under-spin serve, this serve can be used effectively while playing against inexperienced players. If you are able to backspin heavily, there are chances that your opponent would lose the point. Moreover, it's very difficult to attack such serves.


This kind of serve can be used effectively if you want to confuse your opponent. It should be used in tandem with spinning serves, i.e., after you have used either of the spinning serves, you should use the no-spin serve. Moreover, a long and fast no-spin serve can come in handy if your opponent is very close to the table.

Service Rules

A game of table tennis starts when a player serves. The serving player holds racket with one hand, with the ball on the palms of the other. The hand which holds the ball is known as the free hand. The free hand should be behind the table's end line and higher than its surface.
While serving, the player should toss the ball up, and the toss should be at least 16 cm higher than the table's surface. The ball should always be above the table's height, and behind the end line while serving. While serving, you can't use your body to block the ball from being seen by the opposing player.
Once you have struck the ball, you need to make sure that the ball bounces at your end once, crosses the net, and then bounces at least once on the opponents' side. In case the ball strikes the net without crossing to the other side, your opponent will be awarded the point.
However, if the ball touches the net, crosses over, and bounces on the opponent's side; the serve is declared a 'let', and in such a case, the serving player should re-serve.
The serve plays an important role in deciding the outcome of a point. Hope the above information on the techniques have made you realize the necessity of a good serve in the game of table tennis.