Serving in table tennis

We have a couple serves:

  • The forehand backspin serve
  • The disguised left- and right-spin with a little topspin serves

The key attributes in a serve are:

  • Where it goes
  • How fast it goes
  • Whether it reaches the back edge
  • The spin
  • And the perceived depth and spin

I’ve read you should always serve to the front or back third of the opponents side, never to the middle third. The reason for preferring these regions is to force the opponent into a less comfortable stroke and maybe put them a bit off balance, as hitting the middle third gives them precisely the stroke they’ve most practiced for.

Serve essentials. You must start the serve above the surface of the table. Does ETT check for this? (A: Yes, but not properly.) You don’t need to be in the left and right lines, and so it can be useful to move to the corner to start a serve. If you do this, get into position right away after serving.

The toss must be 6 inches or more. A higher toss can give you more speed and spin. The high toss means you contact the ball with high downward velocity, and greater overall momentum. Most of the momentum on the ball after the serve will come from the paddle, not the toss, so this doesn’t seem super critical, but it does add something.