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Return of Serve Drill 1 for Table Tennis/Ping-Pong

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Diagram of Serve and Return of Serve Drill

Serve and Return of Serve Drill 1

© 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
This is a two player drill, which provides service practice for one player, and return of serve practice for the other. A rectangular area is marked in the center of the server's side of the table, using removable tape or string. The size of the area can be made larger to make the drill more difficult, or smaller to make the drill easier. The use of tape or string allows the area to be marked out without preventing the ball from bouncing in the marked area. If no tape or string is handy, a folded towel or pieces of paper can be used instead, although they can restrict the type of serves available to the server.

The server (Player A) is free to use whatever serves he wishes, and the receiver (Player B) must attempt to return the serve while keeping the ball out of the marked area.

Purpose of the Drill
The marked area is used to represent the area which is generally dangerous for a receiver to return the ball to. Returns made to the marked area are usually going to bounce once and go off the end of the table, allowing the server to attack with a full swing. In addition, in most cases returns in this area are not deep enough to push the server back from the table when attacking, and can be easily reached by the server with minimal footwork (excluding those returns placed at the server's playing elbow).

In this drill, the server gets to practice his full range of serves, and he should also try to force his opponent to return the ball in the marked area as often as possible. This will allow the server to see how well his serves can control his opponent.

The receiver should be attempting to return the ball outside the marked area wherever possible. In general, returns outside the area will more difficult for the server to attack, since they will either be very short, very deep, or angled to the sides of the table, making the server move more in order to attack.

Further Extensions to the Drill

  • The server can attempt to attack the return of serve. Both players should take note of the strength of the server's attack, relative to whether the return of serve was placed in the marked area or not. In general, returns outside the marked area should force weaker attackers from the server.
  • Play a game with the same player serving all the time. As well as scoring the game, count how many returns from the receiver landed outside the marked area. The more often the receiver can place a good return outside the return, the better his score should be.
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