How To Legally Serve In Ping Pong

How To Legally Serve In Ping Pong

Last modified: October 8, 2023

Serving in Ping Pong

When it comes to playing ping pong, one of the most important skills you need to master is the serve. The serve is the crucial shot that starts every point in a game. In this article, we will discuss the rules and techniques for legally serving in ping pong.

1. Understanding the Rules

Before we delve into the proper technique for serving, let’s familiarize ourselves with the rules surrounding the serve in ping pong. According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rules:

  • The ball must be held flat on the open palm of the server’s free hand.
  • The server must toss the ball at least 6 inches into the air.
  • The ball must be struck from behind the server’s end line.
  • The ball must be hit above the table and behind the net.
  • The ball must first touch the server’s court and then the receiver’s court.

Understanding these rules is crucial to ensure that your serve is legal and abides by the guidelines set by the ITTF.

2. The Shakehand Grip

Before we talk about the specific serve techniques, it’s important to have a good grip on the paddle. The most common grip used in ping pong is the Shakehand grip. Here’s how you can hold the paddle using the Shakehand grip:

1. Hold the paddle with your thumb pressing against the backside of the paddle.

2. Place your index finger on the backhand side of the paddle.

3. Rest the other fingers gently wrapped around the handle.

Having a solid grip on the paddle will give you better control over the ball and help you execute your serves more effectively.

3. Different Serve Techniques

There are various serve techniques in ping pong that you can use to keep your opponents guessing and gain an advantage. Here are three popular serve techniques:

a. Backspin Serve

The backspin serve involves using a downward motion to create heavy backspin on the ball. To execute this serve:

  • Hold the ball slightly higher than usual and toss it with a slight backspin motion.
  • Slice underneath the ball with an upward brushing motion of the paddle.

This type of serve will cause the ball to bounce back towards the net, making it difficult for your opponent to return with precision.

b. Topspin Serve

The topspin serve is an attacking serve that involves imparting forward spin on the ball. To execute this serve:

  • Toss the ball higher than usual and make contact with the ball at the top of the bounce.
  • Use a forward brushing motion of the paddle to generate topspin.

This type of serve will cause the ball to bounce forward and make it challenging for your opponent to handle the spin effectively.

c. Side Spin Serve

The side spin serve introduces a sideways spin on the ball, which can confuse your opponent’s return shots. To execute this serve:

  • Toss the ball slightly to the left or right of your body.
  • Brush the side of the ball with your paddle to create side spin.

This type of serve will cause the ball to curve in the air and make it difficult for your opponent to anticipate the path of the ball.


Mastering the serve in ping pong is essential for gaining an advantage in the game. By understanding the rules and practicing different serve techniques like the backspin, topspin, and side spin serve, you can keep your opponents on their toes and increase your chances of winning points. So, grab your paddle, practice your serves, and take your ping pong skills to the next level!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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