How to Serve in Table Tennis Like Pro

The table tennis game is one of the most popular sports around the world. Aside from playing it for competitions, many people engage in it to relax and unwind. They know that “how to serve in table tennis like a pro” is very important.

So, what’s the table tennis serve?

Here is what I’ve found:

Table tennis serve is crucial when players throw the ball from their freehand and then strike it with their bat. The player doing this must hit the table tennis ball to hit the side first, after which it clears the net(without touching the net) and falls on half of the opponent's table.

This article will describe how to serve in table tennis for beginners, so if you want to get the hang of the table tennis services, you might want to read on.

How to serve in table tennis
Ma Long

Why do you need to master the table tennis serve?

Every point (for or against you) in the game of table tennis starts with a serve. So once you have mastered the science and art of serving the ball, you will most likely get more points since you can force errors by putting the right amount of spin, speed, and placement to the ball.

The reason for this is that the more great serves you make, the more pressure you can put on your opponent’s return of serve, thus allowing you to set up the game in the way that you want it to go. So you can effectively use the service return in table tennis to play any of the preferred patterns that could ultimately lead to more points for you.

importance of table tennis

So mastering table tennis service techniques is critical if you don’t want to lose every table tennis game you play! The first step to doing that would be to know the table tennis serve rules.

Table Tennis Serve Rules

The table tennis serves simply the player whose turn it is to help, throwing the ball with their non-occupied hand and hitting it with a paddle.

One essential legal table tennis service rule is that the tennis court would be divided into two equal parts with a white line to separate both sides.

You need to note that you can have either the singles match or the doubles match in table tennis. Different rules govern both matches.

The serving rules are almost similar when playing doubles or singles; there are just a few disparities.

Singles serve rule

When serving in a singles game, after the server throws the ball and hits it with the paddle, the ball must hit the table on the server’s side and afterward hit the table on the side of the receiver.

In a singles game, the service can either be done diagonally or in a straight line.

Also, when serving in a singles game, the player serving is expected to take two serves, after which the opponent can take his serve.

Doubles serve rule

The serving rules for playing doubles are a bit different. For instance, the ball must bounce only on the right half portion of the table when playing.

In playing doubles, the player must serve diagonally.

It is a rule that in serving doubles, both players must rotate the service of the table tennis ball. You are expected to swap sides with your partner after service has been done twice.

Whether in playing singles or doubles games, the same factor is considered when deciding who the winner is: the ball must always clear the net whenever a service is made.

So if you were wondering, “can the ball hit the net in Ping Pong,” no, it cannot during service.

If the net prevents the ball from crossing to the other side of the table, a point is registered against the player who couldn’t get the ball to the other side of the table.

The winner must be the first to get up to 11 points.

Table Tennnis Doubles

Types of Serving in Table Tennis

There are different table tennis grips, so consequently, there are several types of table tennis services in the game. You’d need to master at least one type of table tennis serve to be able to play a game of tennis. But to arrive at the type of service that works for you, you would need to know and understand them:

  • Forehand Serve
  • Backhand Serve
  • Ghost Serve
  • Pendulum Serve

What is forehand serve in table tennis?

Table tennis forehand serve is one of the more popular serves in table tennis and with good reason too. It is relatively easy and is the service of choice for newbie table tennis players. Here a player hits the ball with a swing that starts on the hand side and finishes with the swing moving across the body. With the forehand serve, a player can impart a “Topspin” on the ball by using his shoulders and hand first, then his body to play the ball. One other spin that players can carry out with the forehand serve is the “Backspin,” where the player strikes the bottom of the ball. 

Table Tennis Forehand Serve

What is backhand serve in table tennis?

Table tennis backhand serve is the opposite of the Forehand service. With this service, the player starts the swing from their body and finishes it with their hands. It requires the player to turn their arms. Owing to the nature of this service, you could also use the backhand topspin serve in table tennis games.

Table Tennis Backhand Serve

What is ghost serve in table tennis?

The ghost serve is one of the trickiest backspin serves out there because it comes with many underspin and a load of fake movements to pull it off. The Ghost serve is executed with a lot of acceleration and explosive movement. It is advanced table tennis serve that requires the acceleration and spin of the ball using wrist movement. When executed correctly, it is one of the killer serves in table tennis.

Table Tennis Ghost Serve

What is pendulum serve in table tennis?

This table tennis service is also known as the forehand pendulum serve, and it gets its name from the way the bat moves like a pendulum(back and forth) in the serve. Today, it is arguably one of the most popular table tennis serves because it is quite easy to add some spin variation. Most players like to perform this service from their backhand corner.

How to play forehand serve in table tennis?

How to do a forehand topspin serve?

The forehand topspin serve is one of the best ways to surprise your opponent. This type of play prevents the other player from making any strong attack. It gives you more control over the ball so you can use it to your advantage to win points.

  • Stance: You should keep your feed at a 45° angle and it should be facing the end line of the tennis table. This way you can make a comfortable stroke. Your knees should be bent slightly whole your legs should be set apart from each other. They should be shoulder-width w so you get enough balance and can recover quickly after making the serve. The ball should be on your free palm and you should keep the palm flat. Also, make sure that your free hand stays behind the end line of the table and raise it above the table surface. Your torso should be slightly bent facing forward and your elbow bent around 90 degrees.
  • Backswing: When the serve is starting, you should through the ball in the air and your racket be in the middle of the backswing. The ball should be thrown in a nearly vertical direction facing up according to the rules of table tennis. The height of the ball varies depending on the height of the player but it is more than 16cm. Keep your racket a bit backward and slightly facing upwards, then rotate a little using your shoulders and make a backward movement with your racket arm. Your focus should be on the ball when making your backswing.
  • Strike: After you are done with the backswing, you need to strike the ball. Keep your shoulders at 45 degrees facing the end line of the table. Keep your bat moving backwards and then it should face a slightly downward position. Your focus should be on the ball and then you can lean forward slightly from your waist. When you have tossed the ball in the vertical position, you can tip forward and make contact with the ball.
  • Finish: When you have hit the ball, the racket position should be facing forward and towards the table. However, before it hits the ball the racket faces upward and forward so that you get the topspin to serve on the ball.

How to do a forehand backspin serve

The Forehand backspin serve is quite different from the forehand topspin serve when looking at the technique. This serve helps you earn points and will prevent your opponent from making a strong attack against the serve.

  • Stance: Your feet should be keep at a 45-degree angle and like the forehand topspin, they should be facing the end line of the table. You should also keep your knees slightly bent and then your feet shoulder-width apart. You need to also place the ball on your free palm lying flat. Your free hand also goes behind the end line while maintaining a position above the table surface. Keep your torso slightly bent and facing forward for balance. Then you can hold your racket on your playing hand and set your elbow bent at 90 degrees.
  • Backswing: When you start the serve, you will need to toss the ball in the sit and get ready for your racket to hit the middle of the backswing. Like the forehand topspin, you have to toss the ball vertically and facing up. The height should also be up to 16cm or higher depending on the height of the player. Move your racket backwards and it should face up while you twist your shoulders. This will send a backward movement to your racket arm. While you toss the ball, your eyes should be on it throughout the midswing.
  • Strike: You will need to keep your shoulders slightly turned at a 45-degree angle while you make the strike. Your position should still be facing the end line of the table. The racket should still keep moving slightly backwards and also in an upwards direction. This allows you to swing the racket forward and down when you hit the ball. This will cause a backspin from the strike and your eyes should remain on the ball.
  • Finish: When you make contact with the ball, you should turn your shoulders towards the starting position. Your playing arm should go towards the table and going under the ball when you make contact.  Your free arm doesn’t need any movement during the serve.


  • Avoid hitting down on the ball.
  • Ensure that your arm does not cross your body on the follow-through.
  • serves the ball with open palm table tennis

How to do a backhand serve in table tennis?

  • Step 1#: Hold the paddle in front of your body about your waist height
  • Step 2#: Slightly close the angle of the paddle.
  • Step 3#: Move the paddle forwards and ups when the ball comes closer to you
  • Step 4#: Hit the ball just in front of your body using the middle of the paddle
  • Step 5#: Let the paddle follow and finish just to the side of your body


  • Make sure you don’t hit down on the ball
  • Avoid reaching for the ball. Always try to play a backhand drive in front of your body.

How to do ghost serve in table tennis?

  • Step1#: Hold your paddle loosely with your thumb high on the rubber. Your grip on the paddle should be on the side of the blade while holding it vertical.
  • Step 2#: Keep your elbow close to your body.
  • Step 3#: When the ball approaches you, hit it with a short, fast movement
  • Step 4#: Add some feinting motion to disguise your serve


  • Pay attention to the position of your elbow
  • Always move like you are doing a topspin serve

How to do a pendulum serve in table tennis?

  • Step 1#: Start by placing your right foot behind your left foot
  • Step 2#: Hold the tennis ball above the playing surface
  • Step 3#: Throw the ball upwards
  • Step 4#: Move the paddle according to a pendulum-like motion of your forearm, with the tip pointing towards the floor. Try hitting the ball by cocking your wrist.
  • Step 5#: Strike from left to right to execute a forehand pendulum serve
  • Step 6#: Strike from right to left to execute a reverse pendulum serve
  • Step 7#: Let your left foot rotate to your right as you bring the right side of your body across for the follow-through.


  • Make sure that you get your stance right
  • Hold the paddle firmly but freely so that it facilitates the wrist movement needed.

How to do spin serve in table tennis

We already talked briefly about forehand serve and backhand serve; there are many other ways a player can serve table tennis. The first thing you have to master is your table tennis serve grip. What goes through the mind of any player when serving is for him to beat the other party. You cannot win a match if you don’t have a good and strong serve. A lot of techniques can be used when serving. To start a legal service, you need to keep your hand open and steady for some seconds, throw up the tennis ball, and then hit it with the paddle.

Note that you cannot place the ball or your hand on the table when you are serving. When you want to serve, the position of your hand should be above the table. When you throw the tennis ball up, you must throw it very well so that the paddle can hit it well and send it over to the opponent’s side.

There are three spin techniques that you could use when serving in table tennis:

  • Sidespin
  • Topspin
  • Backspin

How to do topspin serve in table tennis?

With this topspin serve , where the ball is made to accelerate and dip when you hit it with your paddle. To get a Topspin:

Use a closed paddle to brush the top of the ball in a fast, forward motion

The secret to a great spin is your wrist movement. So regardless of the spin you opt for, all pay attention to your wrist movement.

How to do backspin serve in table tennis?

This is a kind of spin that is executed by hitting the paddle against the top of the ball such that it is in a downward and forward position. To get a Backspin:

Using your open paddle, brush the bottom of the ball in a fast, forward motion.

How to do sidespin serve in table tennis?

This sidespin serve is one of the more advanced table tennis techniques. With this service, the player grazes his paddle on the invisible side of the ball and then causes it to spin. The more contact, the more the spin. How to execute the sidespin serve in table tennis:

  • Hit the ball in a sideways motion to get it to spin in the opposite direction.
  • Hit it left to get it to rotate right(right sidespin), and right to get it to rotate left(left sidespin).
  • Cause the ball to bounce in those directions.

How to do short/long serve in table tennis?

Whether it is a forehand or backhand serve or a spin service, both a long ball and a short ball must be combined.

Fast Long Serve in Table Tennis

How to serve short in table tennis

A short serve is a kind of service designed to bounce twice on the far side of the opponent’s table. You need to serve short because there are occasions in a game where it will be handy.

Here’s how you go about it:

  • Step 1#: Brush the bottom of the ball with an open paddle
  • Step 2#: Hit the ball just above the level of the table and make sure that the serve is so short that it barely goes over the net
  • Step 3#: You could add a sidespin by brushing the sides of the ball when you serve.
  • Step 4#: To execute a topspin serve, hit the ball sideways and up simultaneously while keeping the ball low.


  • Always keep the ball low to the net.
  • Serve the ball wide from side to side

How to serve long fast in table tennis

A long serve is table tennis serve placed in the corner of the opponent’s side of the table or as close to their elbow as possible so that it bounces close to their baseline. It is often fast and as low as possible. It could be any of topspin, side-top, side-back, backspin, or no spin.

  • Step 1#: Stand as close to the table as possible
  • Step 2#: Get a good firm grip on the paddle.
  • Step 3#: Hit the ball hard and fast so that it bounces as close to your end line possible before getting to the opponent’s end line


Try as much as possible to disguise the length and direction of the serve

Use the long, fast serve sparingly

FAQs of table tennis serve

Coach Points for Improve Table Tennis Serve

Here are some tips to help you when doing a table tennis serve:

  • Keep your eyes fixed on the ball throughout the serve.
  • Make sure you keep a good stance so you get a better balance when playing.
  • The purpose of the forehand topspin serve and backspin serve is to prevent the opponent from making a strong strike.
  • You should keep your stance so you can quickly recover from the serve to make a return stroke.
  • Make sure you toss the ball higher at 16cm so you don’t violate the rules of the table tennis game.
  • Keep your eye on the ball
  • Speed up your swing
  • Hit the ball with the bottom of the racket
  • Use fakes to hit the ball

Table tennis service tactics

  • Serve long & fast side-spin shot service from the backhand corner to the opponent’s abdomen
  • Serve very wide side-spin to the opponent’s backhand and give a fast return
  • Serve long & heavy backspin & return with a strong spin
  • Serve long side-spin to the opponent’s weaker side


How many types of serves do we have in table tennis?

 The serves available in table tennis are quite a lot. In this article, we only focused on the significant serves. Some of these serves are backhand serve, forehand serves, sidespin, backspin, and so on.

How many let serves are allowed in table tennis?

According to table tennis rules, there is no limit to the number of times a player can have a re-service when the ball hits the net.

Do you have to serve diagonally in table tennis?

If you are playing singles, you do not have to serve diagonally, but if you are playing doubles, it is the rule that you must serve diagonally.


The serve is arguably one of the essential parts of a table tennis game because it is about the only time when a player has complete control of the shots you take in the game. To play a table tennis game, you need some level of mastery of a table tennis serve. This article has described a few.

Hopefully, you will try them out to find the one that works best for you.

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