Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong - Forehand Reverse Pendulum Backspin/ Sidespin Serve

01
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Ready Position

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - Ready Position
Ready Position. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

In this tutorial, we will be looking at how to perform a forehand reverse pendulum backspin/sidespin serve in table tennis/ ping-pong. As a more advanced serve, the idea is to prevent the receiver from making a strong attack against the serve, and hopefully force a weak return instead that can be third ball attacked.

View the Forehand Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve Video - 720x576 pixels version. (8MB)

640x480 pixels version. (3.6MB)

Points to look for:

  • The serve is called a reverse pendulum serve because the movement of the bat resembles the way the weight on a pendulum (such a grandfather clock) moves back and forth, but the bat moves away from the body, in the opposite direction to the normal forehand pendulum serve.
  • This serve is typically performed from the server's backhand side. This is because the type of sidespin put on the ball will tend to make the receiver's return go towards the server's forehand. Most servers are looking to stay in position after the serve and hit a powerful forehand attack from their forehand side. The use of sidespin helps the server to control the likely placement of the return.
  • The free hand is flat, stationary, and above the playing surface and behind the endline.
  • The bottom three fingers of the racket hand have been loosened, to allow the bat to be moved more freely when serving. This makes it easier to put more varieties of spin on the ball.
  • The amount of sidespin and backspin will be varied constantly, in order to make it more difficult for the receiver to judge the correct amount of spin on the ball.
  • The use of sidespin makes it harder for the receiver to tell how much backspin is on the ball, since the ball has a combination of backspin and sidespin.
02
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Start of Ball Toss

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - Start of Ball Toss
Start of Ball Toss. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The service motion has begun, and the ball has been thrown into the air.

Points to look for:

  • The player is watching the ball as he makes the toss.
  • The bat is being taken upwards and backwards in preparation for the forward swing.
  • The ball is being thrown near vertically upwards from an open palm, as per the laws of serving in ping-pong.
  • The player has straightened up a little from his crouch as part of the service motion.
03
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Top of Ball Toss

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - Top of Ball Toss
Top of Ball Toss. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The ball is at the top of its ascent.

Points to look for:

  • The player is continuing to watch the ball closely.
  • The free arm is on its way down, and will shortly be moved to the side to conform with the rules of table tennis which state that the free arm must be moved from the space between the ball and the net as soon as the ball is projected.
  • This is a fairly high ball toss, which suits the player's own rhythm. A higher ball toss will give a little more speed and spin on the ball, but a lower ball toss is perfectly acceptable. In fact, varying the height of the ball toss is a good idea.
04
of 08

End of Backswing

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - End of Backswing
End of Backswing. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The ball is descending, the player has finished his backswing, and is about to swing forward to contact the ball for service.

Points to look for:

  • For this player, the elbow position for the reverse pendulum serve is much further away from the body and much higher than for the forehand pendulum serve. You can contrast the different position in this photograph.
  • Note the large cocking of the wrist, in the opposite direction to that of the forehand pendulum backspin/sidespin serve.
  • The thumb can be seen to have moved up the blade onto the rubber, since the bat is being held between the thumb and the index finger, with the other three fingers being fairly loose on the handle.
  • The bat face is held at an angle, since the player wishes to put backspin and sidespin on the ball.
  • The player has not kept track of the ball once it starts to descend. This is because this serve has been practiced often by the player, and once he knows where the ball is descending from, he does not need to see the ball to be able to make good contact.
  • The free arm has continued to move out of the area between the ball and the net, so that the receiver will have a clear view of the ball throughout the service motion, as required by the rules.
05
of 08

Contact With the Ball

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - Contact With the Ball
Contact With the Ball. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The ball has now been struck by the player.

Points to look for:

  • The wrist has now snapped forward, as can been seen by the change in where the tip of the bat is now pointing. This is why the serve is called a reverse pendulum serve.
  • The bat has made contact slightly underneath and to the left side of the ball, as viewed by the camera. The underneath motion will put backspin on the ball, while the right to left motion (from the camera's point of view) will put sidespin on the ball. This combination of spins is harder for an opponent to read than just pure backspin or pure sidespin.
  • Since the receiver can clearly see the contact of the ball, deception is achieved by varying the angle at which the bat is held, which will change the proportion of sidespin to backspin. Further deceptions can be made by changing the amount of wrist snap used, or the speed with which the playing arm is moved. The amount of brush can also be varied to add to the deception of the serve.
  • The ball has been brushed heavily to give good spin, with only a little bit of solid contact. This is designed to give a slow, spinny serve, that will bounce twice on the opponent's side of the table if left untouched.
06
of 08

End of Follow Through

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - End of Follow Through
End of Follow Through. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The ball has been struck and is on its way towards the table, while the player has finished his follow through.

Points to look for:

  • The player has begun to watch the ball again, since he is looking to see the result of the serve. If he sees that the serve will successfully go low over the net and bounce twice on the opponents side of the table, he will look for an aggressive third ball. If he sees that he has not served a good serve (too high or too long), he will get ready for an attack by the receiver.
  • The follow through has ended quite soon after hitting the ball, since the player wishes to make a quick recovery to a ready position.
  • As shown by the small blur trail, the ball is not moving forward all that fast, since much of the speed of the bat has been converted into spin.
  • Note also that although the player's stroke was a mixture of forward and right to left movement (as viewed by the camera), the ball is moving only a little sideways. This is because the ball has been brushed heavily, rather than hit solidly in the direction the bat was moving.
07
of 08

Start of Return to Ready Position

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - Start of Return to Ready Position
Start of Return to Ready Position. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The ball is about to bounce on the table, and the player is starting to return to his ready position.

Points to look for:

  • The bat is now being moved to the player's left to return to its ready position.
  • The player's right leg can now be seen to be moving to his right, as he starts to get squarer to the endline of the table.
  • The player is watching the bounce of the ball closely.
08
of 08

Return to Ready Position

Photo of FH Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve - Return to Ready Position
Return to Ready Position. © 2007 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The player has finished the serve.

Points to look for:

  • The ball can be seen going low over the net, indicating that the serve is likely to be successful.
  • In this photo sequence, the player has not finished recovering to his ready position, since he is about to repeat the serve. In a match the player would continue swinging his right leg to the right, and start to go into a slight crouch.

Side View Version of Forehand Reverse Pendulum Backspin/Sidespin Serve Tutorial

Return to How to Play the Basic Strokes of Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong

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Your Citation
Letts, Greg. "Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong - Forehand Reverse Pendulum Backspin/ Sidespin Serve." ThoughtCo, Feb. 29, 2016, thoughtco.com/forehand-reverse-pendulum-3173905. Letts, Greg. (2016, February 29). Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong - Forehand Reverse Pendulum Backspin/ Sidespin Serve. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/forehand-reverse-pendulum-3173905 Letts, Greg. "Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong - Forehand Reverse Pendulum Backspin/ Sidespin Serve." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/forehand-reverse-pendulum-3173905 (accessed November 23, 2017).