This is Episode 048 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Chris and is about how to recover after your service.
“Is there any advantage to 1serving on the left-hand side of the table with your leg touching the table. I see this with Ma Long and many of the Chinese players. They serve from far left with the ball starting just behind the baseline. Why is that?”
This is a good question, Chris. If you do watch international table tennis you’re going to notice that most top table tennis players, when they are doing a forehand service, are going to serve from the backhand corner.
If you compare this to most recreational players you’ll see that they tend to serve from the middle of the table. Why is this?
There’s a good reason why they’ll do it. If you think about the ideal ready position which is going to be slightly on the backhand side of the table you’ve got a longer reach on your forehand than on your backhand. So you need to be slightly over on the backhand side if you’re right-handed.
After the serve, that’s where you want to be standing. Why not just serve standing there already? Why do they go so far onto the backhand side, even around the corner of the table a little bit?
It’s because the top players like to serve in a side-on position. Recreational players will tend to serve with their body square to the table. Just facing forwards and serve like that. But the professional players will serve side-on, kind of looking across the table.
What they need to do if they’re serving side-on is go around the corner of the table because after their serve they can then swing around and bring themselves into a square position. This rotation after the serve will take them from standing on the backhand corner around to the prime ready position.
Another reason why they want to do that is to have momentum after the serve. It’s going to keep you on your toes and moving forward while making it easy to react to the next ball.
Generally, in table tennis, you want to keep yourself moving instead of standing stationary, weight on your heels. It’s much more difficult to start a movement from scratch from a stand still than it is to keep yourself moving and bouncing around.
This is another reason why players want to serve, move into position and continue moving into the third ball.
If you look at players doing a backhand serve, that’s generally different. Players tend to stand slightly more on the backhand side because they don’t need to adjust much after the serve. So they basically can serve from their standard ready position. Forehand serves are almost always served from the wide backhand corner.
Something that is important to remember is that you can serve from anywhere on the table and it’s good to mix it up occasionally. Just to give your opponent a different angle to deal with. You don’t have to always do your forehand serve from the backhand corner.
Sometimes I go all the way to the forehand corner of the table and do a serve from there just because it’s a different direction so its giving my opponent something a little different to deal with.
I hope this clarifies things for you, Chris. Maybe you should start practicing your forehand serves from that new position around the backhand corner. I know on YouTube there are loads of Ma Long instructional service videos that you can check out.
I think it’s a great idea to study top players and mimic what they are doing. They’re probably doing these things for a reason and even if you don’t know why they are, by all means, try and find out. It’s worth copying.
Good luck learning that Chris and I hope you can improve your forehand serves!
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