How to Keep Your Serves Low

This is Episode 019 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Mahmud and it’s all about how to keep your serves low.

Mahmud asks…

“I’ve been practicing a lot recently to get good spin on my serves. Now I get good spin but the ball doesn’t stay very low. So, how do I do a serve that has good spin but also stays low?”

Keeping your serves low is really important. It doesn’t really matter how good your spin is and how tricky your serves look, if they are high they will be very easy to attack and if youre letting your opponent attack your serve straight away you’re immediately on the back foot an haven’t really gained any advantage. So keeping your serves low is very important and not often mentioned as much. A lot of credit goes to spins and all the different types of serves but just keeping them low is really important.

So Mahmud I’ve got two really important tips for you here.

First is to think about not hacking the ball into the table when you’re doing heavy spin serves. So often what I see is that players start off doing serves with very little spin therefore being able to be gentle and soft because they aren’t really doing anything to the ball. Then when they start learning to get heavy spin on their serves then they start really hacking the ball and slicing it really hard.

What this can do is you can end up getting a lot more force on the ball than you were before and then if you’re really wacking it down and slicing across it that can lead to a really bouncy ball. Yes, it has got lots of spin but then all that force is going to cause it to then bounce straight back up and go really high.

What’s really important to learn is to keep that acceleration and the hard brushing contact but then also have the ball drift and float off your bat and gently bounce on your side of the table. This requires a lot of practice because I think naturally people just chisel the ball down into their side, so you need to practice the fast acceleration that is going to generate the spin but also keeping the ball bounce soft and gentle so it’ll not ping off too high.

Secondly would be to make your contact lower (The contact point of your serve) and this is always a really big problem that I see. You are probably making contact a lot higher than you think. People usually think that their contact point is already quite low but actually it is rather high, kind of at chest height instead of at belly button height which you should be aiming for.

It might me a good idea to film yourself doing some serves and you might be surprised about the height that you are making contact at. You really need to let the ball drop and wait and let it get close to the table. The natural instinct is to throw the ball up and rush to make contact with it while its still quite high.

You really need to wait and relax and trust that theres gonna be loads of time for you to make your serve and that there isn’t a need to rush. So throw the ball up, let it come down, and aim to make contact around your belly button instead of around your chest. Or you can try and let the ball drop as close to the table as possible before making contact. If you practice this what you will find is that you are actually able to wait a lot longer than you think you can and the serve will still be fine.

So those are my two points and I hope that helps Mahmud and that you can go and start working on that. Don’t hack the ball straight down onto the table, try and get that acceleration and kind of float it forwards. Secondly, just let the ball drop really low before you make contact. If you practice these two skills it will help you to have heavy spin on your serves while keeping the ball low.

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