November 22, 2011

Teaching the forehand pendulum sidespin-topspin serve

Teaching the forehand pendulum serve is easy. Most relatively new players learn to do it with backspin and sidespin-backspin without too much trouble. But serving it with sidespin-topspin? This might be the single most difficult thing to teach. It's like teaching someone to whistle - at first they try and try, and nothing seems to work, and they get frustrated. And then, suddenly, it just happens, and then they get it, and from there on it's no problem. The same is true of this serve; players often struggle and struggle with it, which is frustrating to the player and the coach. And then, it just suddenly happens. I'm not sure why this particular skill is so much trickier to teach than other skills. You'd think that teaching a loop would be harder, but I've found that's much easier in practice.

The basic idea of the serve is that the racket goes through a pendulum motion. To get backspin or sidespin-backspin, you contact the ball on the downswing. To get pure sidespin, you contact the ball between the downswing and upswing. To get topspin or sidespin-topspin, you contact the ball on the upswing. To maximize spin, bring the wrist back and smoothly snap it into the serve, like a whip. It's helpful to imagine your arm (just above the wrist) hitting a pole just before contact, so that the wrist and racket whip about like the tip of a whip, or a tetherball spinning about a pole as it runs out of rope. 

The fastest moving part of the racket is the part farthest from the wrist, which for a shakehander is not the tip of the racket, but just below that (to the left for a right-hander). This is where you contact the ball for maximum spin. However, as the racket rotates around, the left side of the blade moves more naturally up, so it's easier to get sidespin-topspin by contacting the ball even more to the left. Demonstrating this is easy; teaching it is much harder. If anyone has suggestions on better ways to teach this, I'm all ears.

Parapan Am results

Here they are!

Improving Your Game Through Post Game Analysis

Here's an article by Samson Dubina on how to improve by analyzing your matches. He takes us through his analysis at four tournaments - the Rubber City Open in Akron, OH; the Hock Open in New Albany, IN; the Millcreek Open in Erie, PA; and the Macy Block Open in Columbus, OH.

Pongcast #4

Here's another Pongcast (27:35), once again covering the table tennis news of the week, in particular the recent Men's World Cup, and other items such as a segment on serves. They put a lot of time into putting these together!

How to Topspin Down the Line

Here's a video from PingSkills that teaches this (2:20).

Chinese Team Training

Here's a video (6:11) of the Chinese team training at the World Championships in May in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Free book on how to practice

Here's a free online book (PDF format), Practice to Learn; Play to Win.

Juggling ping-pong balls with mouth

Here's someone who "juggles" four ping-pong balls by rapidly catching them in his mouth and blowing them up. He does 23 in a row, a new record. If he swallows one, well, they are low calorie, right?


Send us your own coaching news!