Table Tennis topspin serve
We will define a "short" serve as any serve that, given the chance, would bounce at least twice on the receiver's side of the table before going off the end. Any serve that doesn't do this will be considered a "long" serve.
To attack short serves to the forehand, you will need to develop a forehand flip. The shot can be demonstrated by any top player or coach, or you can learn about it in most table tennis books.
Treat sidespin and topspin serves almost the same if you attack them. Even a heavy sidespin will only affect the ball a foot or less if attacked at a reasonable pace, so start out by simply aiming a little away from the corners. Most mistakes are made in the net or off the end, which means misreading the topspin or backspin. As you get more advanced, you will need to learn to compensate for the sidespin so that you can accurately put the ball anywhere on the table. This may mean aiming one foot off the side of the table to get the ball to go into a corner, to compensate for the sidespin.
No-spin serves are effective because they can be disguised as having spin, because they are easy to control, and because players are so used to returning backspin or topspin/sidespin serves that they have trouble with a ball with no spin. At the higher levels, a backspin serve is easier to push short than a no-spin ball, and a sidespin or topspin serve is easier to flip than a no-spin serve. With a no-spin serve, a server gets a consistent ball to attack, although fewer outright mistakes.
Let's divide serves into three basic types, and explore how they should be returned.
- Long Serves
- Short Sidespin or Topspin Serves
- Short backspin or No-Spin Serves
There is one general rule for returning long serves: ATTACK!!!
This is true of all attacking players, and even for many defensive players. A chopper may return most deep serves defensively, but should mix in attacks. Most players should return a deep serve defensively only as a variation or for tactical purposes (such as against an opponent with a weak attack).