Developing Return of Service in Table Tennis
The service shot is one of the most important shots in determining how the flow of the game will proceed. A strong player with developed technical skills and a keen eye for strategy can use the service shot to their advantage and completely control the flow of the game. In order to avoid that, it is vitally important to return that shot with a well thought out counter of your own. If you can return the shot with a counter of your own, you can thwart your opponent’s strategy and change the tide of the game completely in your favor.
The first step in understanding which shot to use is to have a good grasp of what you expect the opponent to use. In a game like table tennis , a keen eye for your opponent’s structure, movement and bat placement can give you a distinct advantage in predicting what their serve will be like.
In order to read your opponent’s movement, carefully look for three things – the angle your opponent’s bat is in as it strikes the ball, the trajectory the ball takes and the location of the ball itself. The angle of the racket can help you determine if the ball has any backspin, topspin or does not use any spin, while the direction of the bat as it hits the ball can indicate whether they intend to use a left or right sidespin. The logo on the ball helps you notice how much spin is on the ball. If you can see the logo clearly, it means that little to no spin was used, while if it appears blurred, then that means an excessive amount of spin was used. In order to return a sidespin serve, aim to return it in the same direction where your opponent’s racket was before they served the ball. For a backspin serve, aim to lift up the ball with your racket or try to play a push return by using an open angle racket return. If you have to counter a topspin serve, aim to use a closed racket angle to play a topspin right back at them. As long as you are careful in assessing the service shot, playing to your strengths – whether they use a long service shot or a short one, both will be easy to counter.