How to Improve Table Tennis Serves: A Guide

Practicing Table Tennis Serve

We all have heard the phrase ‘Practice makes Perfect’ and while not every table tennis player can expect to achieve perfectionism in their sport, they can expect to become better than before. Improving one’s table tennis serve is one of the easiest ways to better one’s table tennis game and below are tips and tricks to refine your serving skills.

What we would suggest is to understand all the rules of a table tennis serve from our guide here, before you look to improve upon your skills as a table tennis server.

Secondly, you can also learn about the various types of table tennis serves here, as it would go a long way in helping you get comfortable with the type of grip you prefer and include a few other tips.

Done with the aforementioned guides? You can then move to our serving drills below.

Solo Service Practice

The traditional way to enhance your abilities to serve in table tennis is going solo.

You will need to train alone for this and that’s why it may be boring but you need to remember to keep up your motivation and be willing to strive for the best.

Here are some tips and tricks for you to do the solo service practice:

Less is More

Majority of the beginners have the temptation to hold many balls at once and practice serving with that entire load in one hand, but that can compromise the quality of your serves.

And if your services during training are not satisfactory, they won’t be any good during a real game either.

This is why you need to go one-at-a-time and hold only one ball for each serve. Plus if you hold multiple balls at once, you will need to toss the ball up with the help of your fingers, which is illegal in table tennis.

Again, if you don’t practice serving properly, you are unlikely to do well during a real game.

Complete Action

Another bad habit of amateur players is to never complete all the steps of the training during service practices.

It isn’t about shooting the ball with the paddle and you’re done, you must stay in the appropriate position for the type of service you are doing, serve the ball, recover and ready your whole body’s posture again as if your imaginary opponent was to return the ball to you now.

Consistent Tempo

Perform the same way as you would in a real table tennis game. Every player has their unique style of playing, some take their time to serve, some serve rapidly to unnerve the opponent.

Keep the same mindset you would keep as if you had a real opponent in front of you.

Extra Tips to Improve Service Quality

Here are some other tips for you to be able to get the best out of your service in table tennis. Remember to mix and match these things and also understand where do your strengths lie.

  • Try to create variations in the length and location of where the ball lands during a service. This is to prepare you for all the different possibilities that might occur in a real game.
  • Try to create more spin on the ball by increasing the paddle’s speed when it brushes against it. This will cause a more powerful serve to unsettle your opponent.
  • Practice with different variations of spins on the ball.
  • Keep serving as low as you can, just above the net.
  • Stay consistent with practicing so you can achieve better results in a shorter amount of time.
  • It is better to practice each service type for a sufficient amount of time and not cram various services within a short span of time. Quality should be preferred over Quantity. 10 minutes for one type of service should be adequate.

Using Table Tennis Machine for Serving Practice

If you don’t have anyone to practice Table Tennis with you, you might want to invest in a table tennis robot.

If you aren’t aware of its purpose, a table tennis robot is supposed to shoot balls at you at a speed that you set, thus almost giving the feel of practicing with a real opponent. Let’s see how you can use one to improve as a table tennis player.

Since there are many models of the robot being manufactured, each one will be slightly different from one another, but most of them have some common features such as:

  • A loading and firing mechanism for the table tennis balls
  • A mechanism to control the firing speed and method of the balls (topspin, sidespin, etc.)
  • Net to catch the balls returned by the player

Read on for our factors to consider before buying a table tennis machine here.

You can also look at our table tennis robot reviews here for the best machines in the market currently.

Also Read:

How to use a Table Tennis Machine/Robot?

The first thing you will most likely need to do is load up the robot with an ample supply of table tennis balls (depending upon the capacity of the robot).

If there is a mechanism to control the firing of the balls, you will adjust the setting according to your preference available. This may include having the balls shoot with a specific spin such as topspin, sidespin, or any other combination of spins.

Adjust the angle of the firing mechanism towards you or whichever side of the table you would like it to shoot towards. Perhaps angle it towards your backhand corner or forehand.

When turned on, the robot will begin to shoot the balls at a consistent speed. Try to hit those balls using different strokes.

Drills for Service Practice

Here’re a few drills you can use to improve your table tennis serve.

10 in a Row

This drill requires you to serve at the exact same location on the table, as the name suggests, 10 times in a row. You may mark the location on the table as an “X” with a piece of tape.

Long Serves

Place a few plastic cups or anything similar at the end of the table and try to knock them down with your ball during service practice. This should help to improve your focus on the length of the serves.

Half-Long Serve

Put a towel on the table, leaving just a bit of space at the edge and try to serve the ball in a way that it hits the table before the towel and then also the small bit of place after the towel, i.e. near the edge.

This will improve your half-long serves and you will be able to visualize where the ball hits in a real game.

Various Targets

Use some means of marking various spots on the table like tape and use the same serving technique to all of those spots each. Try your best to hit all of them accurately in a row. This should help enhance your service placement.

Various Serves & Targets

This one is mostly the same as before where you mark various spots on the table with pieces of tape and try to serve each of them. The only difference is to use a different service technique for each target.

This should help practice switching swiftly between serves while also enhancing your service placement skills.

Stan Boone

I am the editor of Racket Sports World. I love my tennis, pickleball and most of the other racket sports played around the world and started this blog as my way to help other racquet sports fans even as I learn, explore and improve by connecting with them. Tweet at

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