Category: Table Tennis Serve & Recieve

Table Tennis Short Game

When I began playing all I knew was serve and bomb any ball that came my way. Many said you need to develop your table tennis short game and as a teenager, those wise words had no meaning to me.

What is a short table tennis game?

It’s what many find boring; short serves, short touch, pushing and flicks. This part of the game if developed correctly can stop your opponent from attacking you and can enable you to execute both your backhand and forehand. I often tell my players, to avoid prejudgment when watching others knock up with their backhands and forehands. Think about it like a car you must start from first gear (short game) up to fifth gear (big topspin shots). If you watch someone executing both wings, you’re only seeing the car in motion. You have not felt how it handles the road, the acceleration, and its true capabilities. Therefore stay focused on your game and try to avoid pre-match jitters when seeing someone’s backhand and forehand in action.
Ma Long Forehand touch
Pic courtesy of Roger Hance
How can you develop your short game?
  1. Practice your serve
  2. Work on flicking, this involves good footwork (stepping in and out)
  3. Short touch, good timing is key
  4. Positive long push

Training ratio:

Most clubs and players focus on footwork and both wings (backhand and forehand). In truth, you may have the best backhand or forehand in the world but if a player stops you from implementing those strokes, your shots are effectively obsolete. I suggest training your short game just as much as the long game and for me personally, I like to coach my players 65% short & 45% long. The ratio changes depending on your personal game and style. So be aware and willing to adapt.

High quality

Often I see players pushing, touching and flicking but the quality is poor.
Short touch: must be low, spinny and if possible only have two bounces on the opponent’s side.
Long push: must have a variety of heavy and not so heavy spin (which look similar in action. The push should be deep, fast and well placed making it tough for your opponent to execute an aggressive attacking shot.
Flick: whatever flick you’re executing the aim is to put the opponent under pressure and not necessarily make a winning shot out of it. Often players think they must make a winner out of a flick and that’s not the case. A flick is a mini topspin taken early which means the opponent has less reaction time. Therefore a well placed or deep flick will more often than not give you a weak return of which you can capitalise on.

Make the short game fun:

The short game is often seen as boring because it feels action-less. Therefore it’s important to find ways of making this part of training fun. For example how many can you touch short (2 bounces only) when receiving 10 serves. This is great for mental stimulation, competition and a clear view of current ability and future developments.
The short game is the fuel for anyone looking to drive their supercar.

How Important is a Table Tennis Rally?

Have you ever asked yourself, how important is a table tennis rally?
 all love having a long table tennis rally and of course, winning the big rallies is like an injection of adrenaline.

Table Tennis Rallies

An average table tennis rally is between 4-5 strokes and each stroke is played from 0.2 to 0.5 of a second, in simple terms approximately 2 strokes per second.
If you take these stats into account you must ask yourself, how important is it train long rallies in the practice hall? 1 in ten points you will have a long-lasting rally (between 8-15 strokes). 

Ping Pong Championships at Ally Pally
Ping Pong Championships at Ally Pally
How should we train?

I think when building fundamentals the focus should be on building solid foundations which evolve around regular and consistent exercises. Once your stroke play has solid foundations then the key focus should be on the first 4-6 balls. Naturally, you should be giving extra attention to the serve and return then third fourth and fifth ball. Developing these key shots will enable you to deliver high-quality shots from the offset and sway most games in your favour.

Interesting table tennis stats

If you take an average Professional Table Tennis Match (best of seven) you will notice that the match lasts around 50min. In that time the actual rally play is on average 4min and 10sec. This means less than 10% of the match is actual gameplay. Every rally starts slow and speeds up (should we implement off the table training with slow to fast training sessions?) 

The first ball:

People say the most important shot in table tennis is your serve, I say I agree but I also disagree. The first shot is the most important whether it be your server or return. These two shots start a rally and one without the other won’t complete a winning game. Therefore I would practice both with similar importance, the only difference is the service can be developed solely and you are in full control of the spin, speed and placement. 

Can I be a world class player without big rally play?

If you want to be a world class player, I believe it can be achieved without having wonderful rally skills but there will be times when you’re required to rally beyond 6 balls. If you fail to develop a good rally base you will be exposed eventually. If you watch Ma Lin, he was a great example of serve and return, he was capable of playing long and good rallies but would much rather avoid long rallies due to a weaker backhand wing.

Key learning:

Develop the fundamentals to enable long rallies but ultimately develop your serve and return then 3rd and 5th. After that, you can focus on developing your rally play. if you don’t have those fundamentals you won’t reach the rally plays even though you may be good at them.

Written by Eli Baraty 

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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The Forgotten Forehand Flick in Table Tennis

The modern table tennis game seems to have forgotten about the forehand flick!

Table tennis like any sport which has a core selection of shots and skills and each element requires an increased level of value.

Backhand Flick:

The backhand flick’s value has increased greatly over the past 5-10 years. Today we see almost every top player using the backhand flick from all sections of the table. Players such as Dima and Harimoto try to flick with their backhands on every possible occasion. But is this the best option? Or is it hampering results that may be achieved with less usage of the backhand flick?

Backhand flick issues:

Having watched Harimoto and Dima very closely over the years I’ve noticed the backhand flick gives them advantages over most! The issue is it also has a downside. When playing left-handers the backhand flick becomes a lot harder to execute. This is because where left-handers serve from. They serve wide to a right-handers forehand side and can execute a fast and long serve down the line (to the backhand). Now if you commit and flick with you’re backhand to a lefty’s backhand you’ll receive a fast and short, whipping counter topspin. If you flick to his/her forehand you’ll surely receive a big booming forehand. Which is why often lefties have the upper hand against Dima and Hari.


Wang Liqin
Forehand Flick



What you train you will have, what you don’t practice you won’t have!

Harimoto and Dima both suffer from their forehand flicks and most returns with the forehand. Simply because they so very rarely use it and I imagine don’t practice the FH return often enough.
Harimoto was exposed in the Junior Olympics a few days ago against Wang a lefty from China. It’s clear the Harimoto is a world-class player but to be a true champion in today’s game you need to cover most holes. And if you do have weaknesses then they must be very small!

Flicking ratio:
Twenty or thirty years ago, most would be returning services with approximately 70% with FH. Today it’s the opposite if not even more of a higher percentage in favour of the backhand return.

My opinion:

If you want to be a major title winner you require a good forehand return alongside the backhand.
I focus on an approximate ratio of 60% backhand and 40% forehand. This gives my players strength on both wings. Of course, this ratio sways from one to the other depending on the player. Taking into account what they feel comfortable playing with, their style of play and footwork capabilities.

A short video giving a tip on the banana flick – click here

The lesson:
Balance is the secret in success, too much or too little of one thing is never good.

How to Improve your Table Tennis game in1 month

Players often ask me how can I improve my table tennis game? The simple answer I enjoy giving “hire me as your coach” lol.

eBaTT table tennis match
Table Tennis Game
Improve your table tennis game at least 10% in the next 30 days, then follow these 3 simple steps.
  1. Record your training drills and match play, you will quickly notice things you never knew you did.
  2. Break the routine, if you practice once a week make it twice or more or visa versa. Try new things; new exercises, different clubs, different sparring partners, a different coach and try to place yourself under unfamiliar territory. Try to notice how you deal with it because in tournaments or league’s you will often face an unfamiliar situation and that’s where you must find solutions. If you purposely and constantly place yourself in an unfamiliar situation you will learn to deal with tough situations.This will enabling you to develop and progress at a faster rate.
  3. Practice your serve, I’m sure you’ve heard this before (serve is the most important shot in the game) YES, we know that! So, if you know it why won’t you spend 5-10 minutes practicing it before you play? Experiment with a new service, try to keep the ball low over the net, place the service where you don’t often go or have never gone before and try to impart as much spin as possible. The more you do this, the more joy you’ll get when people miss-read or return your serve poorly and lastly fail to return your serve.

You have three tools to improve your table tennis game which will instantly help you with your game and if you require more get in touch with me or your local coach.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis Instagram: _elibaraty 
Twitter: @elibaraty
FB: Eli Baraty 
M:  0790040114

The Most Important Table Tennis Shot, Table Tennis Serve

If you want to win there’s no better way than developing your table tennis serve

I am often asked about my table tennis serve! but the most important table tennis shot in table tennis is the first shot. The answer is yes, the service is the most important shot alongside your return. Statistically speaking the most important shot is the first shot. Both serve and return are as important as each other the difference between them is when you serve you are in full control. You can dictate what spin speed or placement you require


Doubles, return of serve is easier
Return of Serve in Doubles
How do you serve like that?

There is no magic (I often reply) and with some invested time you can also have wonderful service’s. 
Like everything in life, if you desire something worthwhile having; YOU MUST WORK FOR IT! You will need to train and be willing to open your mind in order to possess high-quality service’s. I was and still am fascinated by serves, hence why I spent hundreds of hours and thousands of balls perfecting my serve.

Full control of the most important table tennis shot

When you serve you have full control over the power, speed and spin. This gives you the opportunity to potentially be given a weak or missed return. Good Serve’s apply added pressure on your opposition and gives you an upper hand throughout the match.

If you want a good serve, you have to be willing to practice over and over, again and again. In due time you will notice an increase in the amount of spin and your ball placement variation will be even more precise.
You must experiment with different hand movements, before, during and after the point of contact. By using your imagination or watching other world class TT players, you will learn many service variations.

3 key facts to improve your serve:

1. Placement – Three short and three half – long/half serves (down the line, mid-table and crosscourt)
2. Spin – Impart spin by whipping your forearm and wrist just before the point of contact. Try to have a fast movement with a light or thin or contact on the ball. try to maximise your arm speed but please remember the contact on the ball must be as thin as possible. The faster your hand movement is and the lighter the contact on the ball the more spin you will create.
3. Deception – Like magic, you must create an illusion to make your opponent think and see something different to what has actually happened. Simply put, when imparting a backspin serve – quickly move your bat in an upward motion after the point of contact. Make sure the after movement is done as quickly as possible in order to make the service look like topspin, when in fact it was backspin. There are thousands of variations which can be explored, so experiment and use your imagination. 

Watch, learn, experiment… Service tutorial, click here

Written by Eli Baraty

The Most Important Shot in Table Tennis

The most important shot in Table Tennis is the same as most sports, it’s the first shot!

Serve or Return

The first shot is the most important and is either a Serve or a Return of Serve. I’m sure many saw Hugo Calderano this weekend beating three players (Timo Boll, Lin Gaoyuan, Harimoto Tomokazu) in a very convincing manner.

Many of my players and coaching compatriots contacted me asking if I was seeing Hugo’s backhand and forehand bombs? I said, ‘yes, of course, he’s a modern-day Kalinikos Kreanga. But what impressed me more was HOW he could unleash his BH and FH rockets. Most national and international players have big shots but the difference between them and world-class players is the ability to play those shots when your opponent finds ways to stop you!

The most important shot - serve or return
Backhand Return of Serve
It’s not about the big shots

I was explaining to everyone I spoke to, what’s impressive is not his big shots but his serve and return. A few years ago, I noticed Hugo when I saw him beat Timo Boll in the Bundesliga with big ripping backhands. Back then Timo was not in great shape as he is today and seemed to allow Hugo free rein to unleash his backhand. I never really saw Calderano produce much after that (although he did have a good Olympic Games).

So what has changed with Hugo, from a past top player to a world-class player, capable of beating anyone?

Hugo Calderano has developed the most important shot in the game.

His serve is varied with little or lots of spin. Hugo has a lovely variation with his service, his high and low ball toss. He also has a great variety of different striking points on the ball and good ball placement. All with minor adjustments which are very hard to read and see. This development in Hugo’s game provides him exactly with what he requires to deliver an explosive forehand or backhand attacking shot.
Hugo has taken it one step further by developing possibly the best backhand flick on the planet. He’s not only flicking most balls but he manages to put such venom on the flick that often players watch the ball sail past them. This is due to a wonderful change of timing with the same body language. He keeps his body facing in one direction but takes the ball slightly late for down the line or earlier to execute a wide crosscourt angle.

It’s clear to see Hugo has a huge backhand and forehand but he has worked on developing ways of introducing those weapons by enhancing his first ball (serve and receive).

Hugo has a few elements he can develop further and potentially he could also crack the no.1 world spot!

What can he do better?

  1. Develop a short backhand counter-top when there’s limited time to play a big backhand topspin it would allow him to still put pressure on his opponent and reduce unforced errors or pressure put on himself via a fast oncoming ball.
  2. Forehand flick: Fan Zhendong clearly exposed that weakness and Hugo has a wonderful disguise of pretending to flick but instead does a side-spin drop shot, creating an illusion of an oncoming flick but its kind of a chop block flick, which drops short.
  3. Develop a more technically sound forehand simply for efficiency and reduction of errors. And again look at a shorter stroke over the table when counter-top spinning an on coming fast topspin ball.

A wonderful lesson learnt, you may have the biggest backhand and forehand in the world but if you’re unable to play them, they mean nothing. Find a strategy which enables you to execute your weapons.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis 
Instagram: _elibaraty
Twitter: @elibaraty
FB: Eli Baraty

M:  07900401144