After playing many different opponents in table tennis, I have heard one comment consistently after every match is done. “You’re serve is so good!” While serving is something that I really do not think too much about because it has become basically a natural part of my motions in ping pong after playing for so many years, it is undeniably a very effective tool in ping pong. Likewise, it is also perhaps one of the most difficult parts of ping pong to master and turn from a simply necessary action to a very powerful weapon. Fortunately, the serve is also the one play in table tennis that you do not need a partner to practice with. Serving practice can easily be done on your own while you focus on the different aspects of your delivery of your serve. (Practicing with an opponent who shows how difficult returning your serve is can be done a later time.) After analyzing my serve, I have listed here directions for how to improve your own table tennis serve.
1) I have found it helpful to get my whole body involved in my serve. Just like tennis, actually bending your knees and raising your upper body from a lower elevation to a higher one in one sweeping, smooth motion will give your serve a greater constancy of movement. Not only does getting your whole body involved in your serve help make this movement a more natural action, but it also can look much more intimidating from your opponent’s point of view. (Obviously all your movements should be on a much smaller scale than during a tennis serve.)
2) Toss the ping pong straight up in the air without putting any spin on it from an open palm. It is crucial that you toss up the ball from an open palm (and not a closed fist) because the rules of table tennis require the ball to be visible to your opponent at all times. During the toss up, the ball should rise at least 16 centimeters from your open palm. However, I have found that tossing up the ball even a little higher than this minimum legal requirement can be beneficial (if you can do so at a controlled height without imparting any spin on it). Not only does this toss up to the serve look more intimidating, but it also gives you more time t prepare yourself for the actual “hit” part of the serve itself.
3) Finally, when you allow your paddle to make contact with the ball, do not hit it straight on with an open face; instead, use a slicing motion to attack the ping pong ball. Because of the spin that such a hitting style will give to the ball, you will be able to use much more power and speed to hit the ball and still get it to bounce on the other side of the net (and thus be considered “in bounds”) than if you hit it straight on.
By practicing your table tennis serve, you too can turn these motions into a powerful weapon in your game!