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To Serve or Receive? That is the Question. 0

In a table tennis game, if you win the toss, which do you choose: to serve or receive?

This article starts off seemingly insignificant but concludes with the main point. You need to read the full article to understand my thought process...

If you are like most table tennis players, you play better when you are winning. Most players want to be winning because they have more confidence in their shots, stay level-headed, and aren’t as easily upset with an unlucky break or bad call from the umpire. If your serve is good, you should choose to serve because statistically speaking, you have a better chance to gain a 2-0 or 4-2 or 6-4 lead in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th games. With confidence in the first game, you have a better chance to win the first game. Winning the first game, gives you a better chance to continue the table tennis match with confidence.

If you have a good serve return, such as the ability to push with spin variation or flip with excellent placement or loop long serves really well, then you should choose to receive serve first. Many of the world’s best table tennis players have been dedicating much more time to serve receive than serve, in recent years. When I was a kid, many top players practiced their serves so much and some a lesser time practicing receiving. Now that the serves have less spin with the 40+ poly ball, much more time has been dedicated to perfecting the receive and slightly less time on serving.

So, which are you? Are you the player who should serve or receive first?

I know that many of you are thinking, “It doesn’t really matter if I get a lead. What matters is the end of the game! Can I handle pressure at 8-8 or 9-9 and win? That’s what matters!” With this mindset, you have a faulty understanding that the point at 9-9 counts as more than 0-0. Really, all the points count equally! Playing carelessly in the beginning then putting tons of pressure at yourself at the end will lead to sloppy play in the beginning and nervous play at the end. You should mentally approach each point the same BUT make tactical adjustments point by point as the match progresses.

Key Point:

Do your absolute best to win every point from the very start! Take measured risks to break out with a 5-1 or 6-0 lead in the first game! You should choose to serve first if you have a strong serve or choose to receive first if you have a strong receive! Every decision you make is important! To warm up or not warm up, to eat breakfast or not eat breakfast, to get 5 hours of sleep or 9 hours of sleep, to choose to serve or receive. Every excellent decision brings you closer to victory!

Samson Dubina

Table Tennis Tips – Short and to the Point 0

I have written hundreds of table tennis articles and blogs throughout my career as a professional table tennis player and coach.   I realize that sometimes it can seem overwhelming to try to figure out which articles to read and which tips that you should be applying to your game.  For this reason, I have written this summary article which will summarize many of the table tennis tips I discuss in my articles in just one sentence – short and to the point.

When developing a good loop, focus on spin rather than speed.

When developing a good push, contact the ping-pong ball early and keep the ball low with spin.

When developing a good block, try to bend your knees, lean forward, get your feet in position, and relax your grip on your table tennis racket.

When developing a good smash, focus on getting your feet in position first then take your backswing to the appropriate height depending on the ball placement, ball depth, ball height, and spin.

When developing a good serve, focus on serving low with spin while using the serves that best setup your game, training them in a table tennis tournament environment, varying the quality of spin, and using them in practice matches as well.

When developing a good serve return, focus on having the proper ready-position, reading the spin from your opponent’s table tennis racket, moving to the ball, reading the bounce, then adjusting and readjusting just before contact.

When developing a good table tennis strategy, focus on your opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, serve, and serve return.

When developing a good perspective on winning and losing in table tennis, read the book 7 Days in Utopia.

When developing a good level of confidence, remember that: trust is a must or your game is a bust.

When developing a good deception, focus on varying the spin, speed, placement, and type of shot while still staying within your means to maintain at least 70% consistency.

When developing a good base of physical training, focus on lower body and core strength and speed – focus on speed and flexibility, not bulky muscle.

When developing a good table tennis tournament plan, be sure to set goals – when you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

When developing good rallies in table tennis, focus on anticipating the incoming ball based on the placement of your hit, the type of your hit, the spin of your hit, watching your opponent’s racket, while watching the incoming ball.

When developing a good tournament game, try to play at least one table tennis tournament per month to test your skills and test your ability to perform well under pressure.

When developing a good strategy against loopers, try to attack first and force them to block or lob.

When developing a good strategy against blockers, be patience and work the point until you are ready to hit a winner.

When developing a good strategy against choppers, try to attack the middle often and move them in-and-out instead of side to side.

When developing a good strategy against lobbers, try to see which balls are hitting near the net (smash down) and which balls are hitting near your endline (smash forward).

When developing a good strategy against lefties, try to expose the wide forehand with explosive loops then curve wide the backhand when they are away from the ping-pong table.

When developing a good strategy against long pips, try to push deep to the pips in order to get an easy no-spin ball to loop.

When developing a good strategy against female table tennis players, try to loop with plenty of spin deep on the table, which will be difficult for them to smash or block.

When developing a good power shot, focus on using your core muscles while relaxing your arm as much as possible – at contact, focus on the acceleration.

When developing a good mental game, try to focus on the performance and strategy rather than the benefits of winning or the consequences of losing.

Table Tennis Rally Statistics – Samson Dubina 0

Statistics were taken for the length of the rallies at a professional table tennis tournament.  These statistics are fairly common across the board for all levels but differ based on game-style.

On average:

12% of serves are not returned

18% of points are won on the 2nd ball

26% of points are won on the 3rd ball

13% of points are won on the 4th ball

11% of points are won on the 5th ball

6% of points are won on the 6th ball

4% of points are won on the 7th ball

10% of points are won after the 7th ball

So as you can see, the serve, serve return, and 3rd ball attack are critically important during a table tennis match.  56% of the points do not last more than the 3rd hit.  For this reason, I would recommend practicing at least 56% of the time on the serve, serve return, and 3rd hit.

Serve

One of the best ways to improve your serve is to do it during a drill.  Instead of starting the drill with a warm-up serve, start each drill with a tournament serve such short backspin.  Ask your table tennis training partner to push long, next you loop the push, then you begin the footwork drill.

Serve Return

You probably have some serves that give you problems.  Ask your training partner to serve those problem serves again and again while thinking of new ways to return them.  Experiment by attacking slightly stronger or slightly slower, by pushing instead of looping, by adding to or stopping the sidespin, or countless types of returns.  In order to properly read the spin on a serve, you should watch the racket motion, listen to the contact, watch the bounce, and look for the logo on the ping-pong ball.

The 3rd Ball

Even if your opponent doesn’t miss your serve, he might give you an easy return in which you can attack.  If your 3rd ball attack is strong, it will put more pressure on your opponent to return more precisely.  When he tries to return shorter or lower or faster, he will begin making more mistakes.  Remember, it isn’t just about your serve in a table tennis rally. It’s also about what comes after your serve.

Samson Dubina