Tuesday 3 June 2014

Tips for Effective Service Receiving

The next question wasn't far away, hopefully you find my last article on 'How to Deal with Heavy Topspin Opponents' useful! The next question was from Arjun Sreekumar who asked for some advice on receiving various services effectively. Serves come in many different forms and variations so it's quite a broad topic to cover but hopefully I can give you some useful advice on how best to deal with returning serves. See more from my Coaching Blog.

Tips for Effective Service Receiving

Learn to Read The Ball Contact: Reading service will ultimately provide you with the best idea of how to return the ball most effectively. Watching the moment of ball contact and the opponent's service action will give you a lot of information as to what they are serving. Also remember the first bounce on the table will give you information on the length of the serve, more often than not a bounce closer to the net is characteristic of a short serve and closer to the server, a longer serve.

Also pay special note as to how much contact the opponent makes on the ball, you can observe their brushing action on the ball, or the 'dwell time' which indicates the amount of spin on the ball. Including service receive against different service types in training is very important as it is one of the 4 key skills to master in order to become a well rounded player and to win matches.

Be Decisive: Hesitance is often your worst enemy when it comes to service receive. Table Tennis can be a very touchy game, alongside it's high speed reputation. Spin is difficult to control and often a soft or uncertain return of service will play right into the hands of your opponent. The best thing to do when receiving serve is to make an assertive stroke once you have decided how to receive serve. Even if it is not the correct shot selection, your chances are much better of making a quality receive of serve if you are making a shot with full confidence. This also includes having decisive placement, this is a crucial part of your return as a well placed and high quality receive can be devastating to your opponent.

Be Assertive: In table tennis the first attacker usually holds an advantage. Taking the initiative where opportunities lie is a crucial step in taking control of a point. When returning serve it is important not to be too passive when the chance arises to make an offensive play. Often we see players tripping up over medium long serves and pushing the ball back long (as a medium long serve can be difficult to play short), this gives their opponent the first chance to attack. In reality if a serve will only bounce once, it is important to develop the mentality to make an attacking stroke. This often requires a player to have an attacking mindset. Be assertive, recognise each and every chance to take the initiative.

Avoid Big Stroke Actions: Service receive is often well controlled with concise strokes. A large swing can be inaccurate or ineffective. Keeping shorter and more controlled strokes is often a better option for efficiently returning most serves. This minimises the level of risk involved, this is important as service receive is your first foot in the door into a point.

Hopefully these key pointers are enough for you to work with and focus on for increasing the effectiveness of your service receiving, even though it was quite a brief outline of the large topic of service receive. Thanks for your question Arjun! :)

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