Although the double bounce serve is the main service technique used by high level players, that does not mean that the long serve is never used. Intelligent use of a long serve can force a weak loop return from an opponent, allowing the ball to be counterlooped aggressively on the third ball attack.
Performing the Drill
Player A serves a long fast serve (bouncing within 6 inches of the endline), or a serve that just fails to bounce twice on Player B’s court. Player B then loops or drives the ball to Player A’s forehand court, and Player A attempts to counterloop the ball to any location. The rally is then played out.
The long fast serve is used to surprise an opponent, and hopefully catch him out of position, either cramping him or making him stretch for the ball. The serve that just goes over the endline is used to make the opponent hesitate, unsure of whether the ball will bounce twice on the table or go over the endline. This will also hopefully cause the opponent’s attack to be weaker than normal, allowing the server to make a strong counterloop.
Benefits of the Drill
Player A gets a number of benefits from this drill, including:
- Practice of long serves of various spin types, and serves that just clear the endline on purpose.
- Grooving his counterlooping of the ball as the follow up from his service. Often this pattern is neglected because players start their counterlooping practice while already standing away from the table.
- Practice of his decision making, since he must decide where to place his third ball in order to take control of the point.
- Learning and reinforcing the concept that just because his opponent has attacked the ball, this does not mean that the player must go on the defensive. Weak attacks from his opponent can and should be counterattacked.
Player B also gets worthwhile practice, such as:
- Practice of his aggressive return of serve. Player B should be attempting to make his return of serve difficult for Player A to counterloop successfully.
- The chance to decide whether to go on the defensive or continue to press his attack, depending on the strength of Player A’s counterloop. This is excellent practice for match situations, where such decisions must be made under pressure.
- Allow Player A to serve short as well on occasion, and play out the point.
- Player B returns to the backhand side of Player A.
- Player A counterloops the ball to Player B’s forehand court, and play continues diagonally.