Improve Your Table Tennis Serve (Part 4 of 13)
Hard or soft
If you throw a table tennis ball against a stone wall as hard as you can, it will bounce back fairly sharply – if you do the same against a pair of thick curtains, the ball will drop almost directly to the floor. This would seem to be fairly obvious to most people. However most players do not seem to appreciate that the tension of the body holding the table tennis racket, the rigidity or softness of that body, equally affect the rebound of the ball from the bat. If your muscles are tensed and you grip the racket as hard as you can and your legs are braced hard against the floor, then your body assumes all the characteristics of the stone wall! Another major disadvantage of the tensed muscle is that it loses its elasticity and flexibility and freedom of movement becomes restricted. Your fluency, your ability to ‘play shots’ and ‘feel’ the ball is very much hampered.
On the other hand if your grip is relaxed, the wrist loose, the knees flexed, the softness of your body will absorb a great deal of speed. Your ‘pick up’ of the ball is completely different, the movements supple and fluid, you play with the ball rather than against it. The knees are of particular importance in this ‘soft’ approach as they transmit the hardness of the floor through your body to the bat arm, if you let them. A serve from a rigid knee position will result in a longer, faster ball – it’s harder to play short and tight. However by relaxing the knees at the exact instant that the ball touches the racket, it’s rather easier to produce a shorter, very spiny table tennis serve, with little or no pace.
You should also use the soft body principle to give variation to your own table tennis service returns and indeed to your whole game. The ‘soft body’ block can be used to drop the ball back short and ‘dead’ over the net, thus drawing the opponent forward. Equally you can ‘force’ the ball back, increasing the pace and putting pressure on your opponent, giving him or her a limited time to react.
In case you did not read How to improve your table tennis serve. here is quick resume of it. Feel free to leave your comments