May 20, 2014

Fast and Deep Serves

I've been teaching this a lot recently. These are rarely front-line serves as even intermediate players have little trouble attacking them if you use them too often. However, they are a great variation to spin serves, and if used a few times each game will often catch the opponent off guard. I probably use them more than most both because I'm confident I can pick just the right time (you get a sense for that with experience), and because I spent so much time practicing this in my early years that I have very good fast and deep serves.

Before we go on, isn't fast and deep serves rather redundant? If the serve is fast, it's obviously deep, right? And yet it's part of our lexicon that we call these serve fast and deep serves rather than just fast serves.

Here's a tutorial (2:51) from PingSkills on fast and deep serves (okay, they actually call them "fast and long serves," those Aussies), which covers the topic pretty well. Note the emphasis on having the first bounce hit as close to your end-line as possible, to maximize the time the ball has to drop over the table - this is extremely important. Putting a target on your own side of the table to see if you are hitting the ball near your end-line is a great way of teaching this; I also use that method. Equally important is having a low contact point. (Most players contact the ball too high on all serves. It's a common problem even at higher levels, and many don't even realize this, and so their serves aren't as low as they could be, making things easier for the receiver, whether they attack or control the serve back.)

A key to a fast serve is practicing them to the point where you can do in matches what you can do in practice, especially at a key point. There's no point in having a great fast serve in practice if you can't pull it off under pressure. So practice it until it's second-nature, and make sure to warm up the serve before tournaments so it's ready.

Most players learn to serve fast by gradually building up the speed of the serve as they learn to control it. That's fine, but I found it more valuable to do the opposite - serve very fast, even if it goes off the end, and gradually slow it down until you could keep it on the table. Then work on controlling at that pace, while gradually increasing the pace even more.

Here are three related articles I've written - but it just struck me that I've never done a Tip of the Week on how to do fast and deep serves. I'll probably do one sometime soon, an expanded version of the above.

Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros

Here's the new ebook on sports psychology for table tennis by sports psychologist and top player Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon. I haven't read it yet, but it's an expanded version of their previous version, "Get Your Game Face On," which I reviewed here. I'm busy on other things right now, but after I read it I'll do a review. Sport psychology is one of the most under-utilized aspects of the game, so I strongly urge you to get ahead of me and read it before I do!

No Money in Ping-Pong?

Here are three postings by Bruce Liu on the subject of money in table tennis.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

And here's a listing of the prize money in ITTF World Tour Events, and the calendar with 23 Tour events listed.

40mm vs. 38mm Ball

Here's PingPod #39 (2:14), where PingSkills looks back at switch from 38 to 40mm, as a preview to the upcoming switch to polyballs.

Before and After Pictures of the Stars

Here they are!

The Fellowship of the Ping

Okay, this is kind of silly, but here it is! (It's Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Mizutani Jun, and Zhang Jike in Lord of the Rings . . . sort of.

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