October 2, 2023 - Four Short Serve Scenarios

Here are six scenarios when serving short. You should incorporate these into your own serving game and learn to follow them up with strong attacks. For these scenarios, I'm assuming your forehand loop is stronger than your backhand loop, and so you'd want to favor it when possible. If you prefer to backhand loop, then make the simple adjustments. With experience, all players should build up various scenarios that match their strengths and playing style. Also note that while I'm emphasizing push returns below, receivers may also flip or push short. If I wrote up every scenario here . . . it'd be a book!!!

  1. Backspin/no-spin to backhand. Most often you'll get a push return to your backhand that you can attack. You can either backhand loop or step around and forehand loop. But since it gives the receiver such a wide angle into your backhand, you have to go way out of position to forehand loop. But on the plus side, the receiver has no angle to your forehand, so you can cheat a little bit to your backhand side if you do want to play forehand.
  2. Backspin/no-spin to wide forehand. This is an awkward receive for some players, and so can lead to weak or erratic returns. However, it gives the receiver a wide angle into your forehand. To guard against this, you have to stay centered, and so the receiver can just push down the line, taking away your forehand loop.
  3. Backspin/no-spin to middle forehand. By the simple trick of serving to the middle forehand instead of wide forehand, you take out the extreme angle to the forehand. Many players also find it awkward playing forehand against balls toward the middle of the table. However, many will simply step over and receive backhand. (Note that this also applies to serving to the middle backhand, but in general that doesn't give receivers as much trouble.)
  4. Backspin/no-spin to middle. This often gives you the best of all worlds and is often the go-to serve for most top players. It takes away both extreme angles, and so you have less table to cover. The downside is that the receiver can choose whether to receive forehand or backhand, and so can go with their strength.