Typically, the biggest difference between a seasoned ping pong player and a beginner is the ability to serve a tough spin shot. If you want to learn how to spin ping pong balls to serve your opponent a shot they won’t be able to return, then you’ve come to the right place.
Key Takeaway: Consistency matters. A competitive ping pong player is able to consistently send this type of serve while beginners and intermediate players can only pull it off every once in a while. Following our techniques, we’ll teach you how you can finally challenge even the best ping pong player in the house and win. With plenty of practice, you can easily master the three types of spin serves that easily allow you to dominate any match.
If you want to learn how to use this serve consistently, keep on reading to learn the key to executing a spin serve.
Table of Contents
Why are spin serves such as big deal? Spin serves can make it incredibly difficult for an opponent to return a shot because the speed at which the ball moves can make it difficult for the opponent to determine where it’s going to land. Keep in mind that learning how to master the spin serve isn’t easy. Your first few practices will most likely be a total disaster, with the ball going everywhere but the ping pong table. The only way to master this move is to practice daily.
Because learning how to serve in ping pong using a spin serve is considered an advanced technique, it’s important that you learn the basics of ping pong before you even attempt this move.
Once you feel confident in your basic ping pong skills you’ll be ready to take your practices to the next level.
Spin Serve Types
There are a few different types of spin serves:
- Side spin
- Top spin
Basically, the physics behind each spin type is the same. The ball will rotate in the air. The only differences here is in the air pressure, which can be applied to the side, back, or top. This is what causes the ball to dip and curve. When the ball makes contact with the table, the air pressure and rotation is what will cause the ping pong ball to slow down or speed up.
One of the most essential strokes in a strategic player’s arsenal is the top spin. A player can impart an impressive amount of power to the ping pong ball. Instead of flying straight across the table this serve causes the ball to curve downward.
In order to generate a top spin you must begin your serve behind and below the ping pong ball. You must wait for the ball to bounce off the table upwards, then move your arm upwards and forward so that you’re hitting the ball at a slight right angle from a higher position. The ball will arch downwards and will pick up speed after it has bounced off the table. If your opponent doesn’t know how to counter this move, they will cause the ball to fly off the table, resulting in a point for you.
This serve is also referred to as a slice serve and it’s often used as a defensive shot when you’re trying to return a fast shot and you need more time to get all set up for the following return serve. When you’re practicing, don’t be surprised that the majority of your backspin serves will go right off the end of the table, due to the higher amount of spin that’s involved.
In order to serve a wicked backspin serve, start off by positioning the stroke above and behind the ball. When the ball is heading downward, make your paddle travel from a high to low position so you’re brushing the ball using some forward momentum on its lower surface. The amount of spin used will affect what the ping pong ball will do when it hits the table. A mildly powerful backspin serve will cause a lower bounce. Using a more powerful backspin serve can cause the ball to move backward or straight up. If your opponent incorrectly counters your serve their serve will not be able to clear the net.
The side spin serve is used to defend and attack. The ball will spin from the left to the right or the right to the left while making a low, large curve in the air. This will ultimately depend on how much spin the ball has and from the amount of speed used, in addition to the angle the ball has been hit at.
There are a couple of methods you can use for a side spin, both of which are fairly simple to master, especially when compared to more challenging spin serves such as the top spin.
For a push side spin you’ll move the paddle laterally away from you when hitting the ball. You’ll impart a different side spin depending on whether the paddle moves to the left or right.
For a pull side spin, you’ll move your paddle toward your body laterally when you hit the ball. The curve of the ball will depend on whether you’re moving the paddle to the right or left, but it will do so at a higher velocity.
To learn more other ways to easily beat an opponent, click here to read our article on table tennis tips.
Ping Pong Setup
If you have a pro-quality table, such as the JOOLA table tennis table, then you can expect a more responsive surface. The JOOLA model provides the type of surface that can equal a higher bounce. Lower priced models have a thinner playing surface which can affect how much bounce you’ll get with each serve. If you’re playing on a new table, make sure you get in plenty of practice before your next match, since a new table may have a thinner or thicker playing surface. Becoming familiar with how the table responds to certain types of serves and how much bounce you’ll get based on power and serve type will give you an edge over your opponent.
To learn more about different ping pong ball tables and how the playing surface can affect your performance, click here to check out our ping pong table buyer’s guide.