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Learning To Serve in Table Tennis - Mastering a Ping-Pong Serve

A Practical Experiment in Ping-Pong Serving

By

Photo of Pendulum Serve

This is Harder than it Looks!

© 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc

Week 3 Report

Day 15 - Tuesday

250 serves. I think I'm serving a few less faults though, which is good. I'm still focussing on trying to get good spin on each serve. Just for variety's sake, I'm also experimenting with different ways of trying to contact the ball when serving the normal forehand pendulum version. I'm not wholly happy with any of them yet. I'm also working on my third blister, this time on the webbing of my hand between my thumb and index finger (Sigh...).

Day 16 - Wednesday

No serving today - I'm giving my blister a chance to heal up a bit.

Day 17 - Thursday

250 serves. I'm definitely serving less faults than before - probably around 20% of the time. I'm also trying a few more of the backspin/sidespin serve variation just for fun, but I'm still at the just making contact stage, and missing a lot of them.

I don't know whether it's better to stick strictly to learning the topspin/sidespin version first, and then trying to pick up the backspin/sidespin version, or to learn both at the same time. I'll keep focussing on the topspin/sidespin serve only, and see how it goes. Maybe I'll try doing both spin versions when I try to learn the forehand pendulum version of the serve, just for comparison purposes.

Day 18 - Friday

Day off, since I was coaching several students and never quite got around to it. I also want to give my blister a bit more chance to heal up.

Day 19 - Saturday

2500 serves - nah, just kidding! 250 serves as normal. I think I'm getting better, since I feel like more serves are double bouncing when I get the contact right. At this point in time I think it is going to be small improvements only, so I just have to keep going.

Day 20 - Sunday

250 serves. Business as usual. I thought I might have been losing a bit of wrist snap, so I've been concentrating on getting a good snap through the ball. I'm also starting to watch the ball all the way through to contact, which seems to help me get better contact more often.

Day 21 - Monday

Working on blister number 4 between the joints on my middle finger (sigh...). It's getting hard to tell if I'm really improving much now - I think I'll have to do a running count of faults, double bounce serves with good spin, long serves with good spin, serves with no spin, and lets if I'm going to be able to give any definitive measure of improvement. It's hard to say if I'm really improving from day to day otherwise.

One thing is for sure, and that is that the serve is a long way from being competition ready. I've got another 7 weeks before the Australian Open, so I'm not sure whether I'm going to have this serve ready in time.

Day 22 - Tuesday

Today I decided to bite the bullet and start a log of my serving results - I think it's the only way I'm really going to see whether I'm making progress on a daily basis. Anyway, here are the results of today's 250 serves:
  • Faults - 58 - 23.2%
  • Double Bounce Serves - 29 - 11.6%
  • Long Serves - 146 - 58.4%
  • Let Serves - 15 - 6%
  • Missed Balls - 2 - 0.8%
So what does this tell me? Firstly, I was roughly correct in my estimation of faults, although it's not quite as low as I thought. Secondly, I'm not double bouncing anywhere near as many serves as I thought I was - I would have guessed that I was double bouncing around 25% or so. Anyway, this gives me a good starting point to keep track of my daily progress now - I can't argue with the statistics!

Finally, here's the video of this week's serving. I'm not impressed with the video this week, since I performed the serves late at night after a tough pennant match. I wasn't serving as well as I was in practice. Anyway, that's life I guess.

Deceptive Serve Video - Day 22 - 720x576 pixels version - 5.8MB; 640x480 pixels version - 3MB; 320x240 pixels version - 1.7MB

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