How to Serve in Table Tennis – Winning points more quickly

When it comes to the serve in table tennis, it is the most important aspect of the game. A great serve allows you to win quick points or be on the offense during the rally. It is important for someone to know how to serve efficiently with precision, speed and spin.

There are certain rules you need to know if you want to compete and I will explain them to you. After all, the game starts with the serve and if you can master this aspect of table tennis, you can reach your game of play to the next level.

There are certain strategies that will give you an edge depending where your opponent is placed on the other side of the table. A serve will usually dictate the outcome of a match and it is important for you to start learning about the basic serves, then learning about the advanced serves down the road.

In order to have an effective serve, you would need to start with proper footwork positioning, have the right arm angle and be able to know how to hold the ball. These tips will help you to learn how to serve in table tennis and get more result.

Using proper footwork and learning basic serves

First, before serving, it is important to learn about the proper footwork so you can have a more efficient serve. You would need to position your body at a 45 degree angle from the table. If you are right handed, make sure to place your right foot slightly more back than your left.

This simple position will allow you to generate more power on every serve and win quick points. Basically your feet should be about shoulder width apart.

Also make sure to bend your knees so you can be more flexible and balanced as it will help you to return balls when returning serves and during rallies.

One important thing you need to do is to make sure not to bend your chest but your waist. Keep your shoulder steady and make sure you are able to maintain your balance.

Now regarding your upper body, it is important to keep the arms at a certain body angle to reach maximum efficiency on your serve. Your elbow should be at about 45 degree angle and this will allow you you to use your forearm and wrist when serving. Dont keep your arm tight, make sure it is relaxed and keep your elbow loose also.

Once the ball is thrown in the air, move your arm slightly backward ready to swing to achieve a forehand backspin serve. After the ball raches a certain height, bring back your arm in front of you, in which your shoulder and body follows. With this serve, hit the ball swinging from underneath and continue on with your motion.

Another important serve that beginners might want to get into is the forehand topspin serve. with this serve, it is similar as the backspin serve as you start swiging backward but with your racket up instead of down. proceed by continuing the motion by bringing your arm in front of you and hitting the ball from the top and not the bottom.

For backhand serves, instead of bringing your arm back, bring it in front of your chest which will have additionial spin effect when releasing. Usually these backhand serves will generate different spin such as sidespin as it is generated from a different arm position.

Serve techniques and serving rules

Now that we have covered how to position ourselves to prepare to serve, there are certain ways to hold a ball. Also, there is a rule that have been put in place that requires the server to throw the ball in the air at a certain height.

First, your hand needs to be straight open and flat as the ball needs to be placed on the palm of your hand. Make sure your hand stays still for a few seconds before throwing it in the air as it is a rule and may cost you a point deduction if warned a few times.

When serving, make sure that you are behind the table and the ball needs to be above the serving lines. The hand can be below the table as long as the ball is above the table. Also, it is important to have your hand behind the serving line. However, it is okay to have some of your fingers crossing the serving line as long as the ball is behind the line, therefore it would still be considered a good serve.

Another strategy that might help you serve more efficiently is having your paddle under the table which can hide the type of serve you want to hit. As long as the ball is above and behind the table it is considered a legal serve and can be used as a deception to hit a winner or a weak return from the opponent.

For your serve to be accepted in tournaments, there is a rule in place that requires the ball to be thrown in the air at a certain height. It is necessary for you to throw the ball in the air for at least 6.3 inches and the ball needs to be thrown straight and not sideways.

Once the ball is in the air, do not hit the ball right away like a tennis serve and instead wait until it reaches close to the table and make the serve. Hitting the ball too early might result in the serve being not accepted and losing a point. Also make sure that once the ball is thrown in the air, do not hide the ball with your other hand to confuse the player as it is considered illegal.

The serve needs to hit on the server side of the table first with the first bounce, then the oppoent side. If the serve hits the oppoenent side of the table first, it will not be accepted.

The serve is most likely the hardest stroke to learn as it requires many hours of practice and patience. Focus on serving straight for the moment and leave the spin and curving serves for later once you reach a higher level of play. The serve does not need to be hit diagonally and can be hit anywhere on the table. Playing doubles is the exception as you do need to hit the ball diagonally.

Adding spins to your game

Once you have learned the basic serves and the serving rules, spin is necessary to make your serve less predicatable and harder to return. There are few ways to add spin to the ball and depending if you are using the forehand or backhand, it will produce a different spin effect.

When adding topspin to your serve, you can use either the forehand or the backhand and make sure to focus on the technique at first rather than the speed of the shot. The racket needs to hit the top of the ball, grazing it and the swinging motion should not be a compelte swing but rather a half swing close to the middle of your body.

Once the ball is hit, it will give the ball a downward effect once it reaches your opponent side of the net. Usually to accomplish this, you need to strike the ball with a closed racket which means your hand is facing towards the ground.

For backhand serves, you have to instead hit the ball with an open racket to brush the ball upward. To execute this serve, the stroke has to be under the ball which will keep the ball low. This serve can be very efficient against those who like to attack on the return of serve.

Sidespin is another very effecitve serve that can be used but requires more experience before being able to effectively use this serve. However, I would recommend sticking with the backspin and topspin serves when first learning how to play the game.


Knowing the rules of the sport of table tennis is crucial especially if you plan on competing in tournaments and leagues. It is important to have the right throwing height when serving otherwise, this could be a point deduction.

Knowing the basic serves such as the forehand backspin and topspin serve can help you to elevate your game. Eventually with experience, adding spins to those serves can be beneficial as it will allow you to win points more quickly.

Footwork and movement is the key to effectively have the maximum impact on each of your shots. Knowing how to place your body and your feet will allow you to be in great position to play defensively or offensively. Applying those small things will help you to elevate your game and have more fun.


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