August 31, 2011

Creating service spin

Someone emailed me the following question (this is just an excerpt): "I can't generate heavy spin just average spin.... Any tips that may help me." Since this is a common problem, I thought I should put my response up here.

You might need to work with a coach directly to find out why you are having trouble creating spin on your serves. However, here are some possible reasons.

  1. Do you have a relatively grippy racket surface? (I'm guessing this isn't the problem, but had to bring it up.)

  2. Grazing motion: are you really grazing the ball at contact? If so, there should be little speed on the ball as most of your serving energy should convert to spin. If your "spin" serves are going long, and with good speed, then you probably aren't grazing the ball much.

  3. Racket speed: a lot of players slow down their service motion so as to better graze the ball. This defeats purpose of grazing the ball. Serving is a violent motion - if you want the ball to spin at 100mph, you need your racket tip to move 100mph. That mean's using body, arm, and (most important) wrist on the serve.

  4. Wrist motion - a common problem is not really snapping the wrist into the ball, leading to low racket speed. First, you should be changing your grip for most serves to maximize the wrist motion. (If you aren't sure how to do that, any coach or top player can show you.) then snap the wrist into the serve like a whip!

How serves have evolved.

Check out the simple serves used in this clip of 2-time U.S. Men's Champion Marty Reisman versus 5-time World Men's Champion Viktor Barna (1:50) in 1949, or between Reisman and Bobby Gusikoff (26 sec) circa 1960. Compare these to modern serves, such as Men's Singles World Champion Zhang Jike of China versus Jun Mizutani of Japan (13:05) - quite a contrast. Now check out the serve of Japanese star Keiko Okazaki!

Celebrities Update

Yesterday I updated the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page (two days early!) with 28 pictures of 14 new celebrities. There are now 1262 pictures of 734 celebrities playing table tennis. This month's contributors: Benjamin Ott, Greg Mascialino, Jonas Sandqvist, and Chris Kane. New pictures this month:

  • Actresses Susan Sarandon, Maria Menounos, and Kristin Cavallari
  • Basketball players Kevin Barnett and Dirk Nowitzki;
  • Tennis players Bob & Mike Bryan;
  • German comedian and TV host Stefan Raab;
  • Singer Greyson Chance
  • Hockey player Jarome Iginla;
  • German football player (soccer) Lukas Podolski
  • Ukrainian boxer and politician Vitaliy Klychko
  • Former German President Richard von Weizsäcker
  • Prince Daniel of Sweden

Dirk Nowitzki forehand sequence

This German doesn't just play basketball for the Dallas Mavericks; he's got some nice forehand technique! Well, pretty good for a basketball player anyway.

  1. Forehand1
  2. Forehand2
  3. Forehand3

Justin Bieber versus Greyson Chance

Who would win in a matchup of these teenage heartthrob singers? Here a picture of Justin Bieber playing table tennis, and here are three of Greyson Chance: photo1 photo2 photo3. But now we have the video! Here's Justin on the Ellen DeGeneres Show (where they compete serving balls into a bowl, starting 55 seconds in), and here's Greyson playing at a party (short clip starts at 1:28 in). Time for them to drop all this singing silliness and focus on the Olympic Sport of Table Tennis!

In case you haven't seen this, and are very hungry...

Yes, a man ate his ping-pong paddle. But it was hardbat, so it was okay.


Send us your own coaching news!