- Ben Larcombe is a writer who lives in the United Kingdom.
- 15th of May, 2015
- The Table Tennis Expert Blog
If you’re a beginner or new to table tennis, learning a few “good” serves can make a big difference in your games. A super heavy backspin serve can easily make the difference between winning and losing a game against players at your level.
This is exactly what Sam discovered after a few months of participating in The Expert in a Year Challenge. I’ll teach you everything you need to know about developing a super heavy backspin serve in this post. His matches against his flatmates changed completely once he mastered the ability to really chisel underneath the ball and generate a lot of spin.
The receiver can hit these serves and return them with a drive, counter-hit, smash, slap, or whatever name you want. Most beginners don’t put much spin on their serves. A fast flat serve or a combination of light sidespin and topspin are common beginner serves.
With these types of serves, the only way to win the point is to;
- Serve quickly enough to catch your opponent off guard (this is difficult to do because all they have to do to return the ball is stick their bat in the way).
- Play the point out and beat them in the rally (this is an acceptable way to win points, but it could be a lot easier).
You’re essentially giving them a free ball to hit while also putting pressure on yourself to return your serve quickly. If you’re a half-decent beginner who’s confident in hitting the ball hard, these types of serves can put you on the back foot.
So, what are your options?
When you master this skill, you will be in a position to stand out among your peers. Only a few beginners can serve with a lot of backspin.
When you watch professional table tennis players, you’ll notice that they mostly use backspin and short serves. This is because this is the most difficult type of serve to attack, and you don’t want to give your opponent any free balls to hit at the highest levels.
Doesn’t that sound like a good plan? Many beginners attempt to duplicate these serves by attempting to serve short backspin.
They’re left with a short float serve that their opponent can still hit, albeit with a little more difficulty. The desire to keep the ball short (bouncing twice on your opponent’s side of the table) makes it extremely difficult for a beginner to put any spin on it. Unfortunately, if you haven’t mastered serving heavy backspin, learning how to serve short backspin is extremely difficult.
You don’t have to worry about it because the person you’re playing probably won’t be able to loop a long backspin serve. To prevent their opponent from looping the backspin serve, professional players serve short. For the time being, forget about serving short and instead concentrate on getting as much backspin as possible.
What is the best way to make a super heavy backspin?
There are two fundamental principles to grasp: It’s actually quite simple to serve with a lot of backspin; all you have to do is learn to hack underneath the ball rather than hitting or tapping it on the back.
- The importance of this fine brushing contact can’t be overstated. Start and end the service motion with your bat horizontal to the table (nothing fancy required). This bat angle allows you to slice the ball when it makes contact. Your bat’s mouth must be completely open.
- You must accelerate your bat as quickly as possible towards the ball. Start with your wrist locked in place and work your way up to your wrist once you’ve mastered it with your elbow. You won’t get much spin if your service action is slow. This acceleration can be achieved using either your elbow (which is easier) or your elbow and wrist (which is better but more difficult). Super heavy backspin is caused by the racket speed.
Here’s a YouTube video of a guy demonstrating how to do it.
However, if you’re a beginner (as I assume this guy was when he shot this video), that serve will suffice. That video has a lot of thumbs down because he doesn’t break down his technique for the’ghost serve,’ and the serves aren’t that good. He’s getting a lot of backspin, which will make it difficult for an opponent to attack. The key is the speed with which the arm moves, resulting in a very fine contact with the ball’s bottom. ,,,,,,,,,,
You’ll be fine as long as you open up your bat face and hack under the ball. That type of serve can be made with your forehand or backhand, and to any point on the table.
Toss it up to your head’s height. Try throwing the ball a little higher to get even more spin. A high toss has no negative connotations! The faster it accelerates on the way down, the more spin you can impart on the ball. Many beginners don’t even let the ball leave their grip.
Try serving on carpet to see if you can get the ball to return to you after it hits the ground. Rep this process until you’re comfortable with the arm motion and ball contact. Simply grab a bat and a ball and begin practicing your contact. You don’t even need a table to do all of this.
With it, you can score points.
If your opponent hits the ball straight into the net, you can easily win points with this serve. You can bet that if they try to hit that serve, it will go straight to the bottom of the net. You’ve made a point without doing anything.
They’ll probably figure out pretty quickly that they need to push your serve, or at the very least get their bat underneath it. Serving into their forehand half could be a good strategy for players who struggle with their forehand push more than their backhand push. Even with a push (if they aren’t very good at pushing), a really heavy backspin serve can still go into the net.
You might be able to attack their push if it was weak and lacked backspin. A good strategy is to push hard and deep. Look for an angle and try to push with a lot of backspin. It’s also fine if you’re playing someone who can push all of your serves back. You’ve prevented them from attacking your serve, and you can now decide how to handle their push. You might have to push it back if they’ve played a good push.
The chances of this happening when you were serving fast 100% of the time were slim, but things have changed now that you have your super heavy backspin serve. If your opponent is expecting your super heavy backspin serve, you may be able to catch them off guard with a fast serve. The final way to score points is to throw in a quick serve now and then.
Enhancing the serve
You’d be surprised how difficult this is, and you’ll probably be able to get away with serving longer than you think. You’ll eventually come across players who can loop a long, heavy backspin serve.
This shouldn’t be too challenging. It’s time to work on getting your super heavy backspin serves short (bouncing twice on your opponent’s side of the table) once you notice them looping past you. All you have to do now is try to get even finer contact underneath the ball (if you hack it too much, it will always go long) and try to get your side’s bounce closer to the net.
It might help if you imagine the internet as a mirror. If your serve hits the net close to your side, it will also hit the net close to your opponent’s side (staying short). If your serve hits the end line on your side, it will hit the end line on your opponent’s side as well (going long).
It may take some practice to get the hang of it, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.
So there you have it: the super heavy backspin serve, which every table tennis player should learn and which can be especially brutal at the beginner level.
- Concentrate on heavy spin first, and length will come later.
- Make sure you slice all the way through the ball.
- On contact, accelerate your bat as much as possible.
- If your opponent’s forehand push is weak (which it often is), consider aiming at their forehand side.
- As much as possible, practice your fine contact.