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Pendulum serves for doubles

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Martin G
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Joined: 4 weeks ago
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Topic starter  

In doubles play what is the best technique for spinny pendulum service when you have small space to serve into but want to maximise the spin variety. Martin

Tom Lodziak
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 58

For right handers, the pendulum serve can be a little awkward to do in doubles. Bear with me, as I explain why...

In singles, if a player does a pendulum serve, he will normally stand in his backhand corner, side on to the table. The serve will normally go cross-court to either the wide backhand or the middle. It's a very natural action when serving from this position. 

But in doubles, you have to do the pendulum serve from the forehand side, and aim cross-court to your opponent's forehand corner. It feels like you are serving backwards, behind yourself. You also take up a lot of the table when serving like this, so your partner has to either stand behind you or out wide.

You can adapt the technique, by standing a little squarer to the table, so you are facing your opponents more. But with this squarer stance it is not so easy to get the same amount of spin on the serve.

So personally, I don't serve pendulum serves too much in doubles. This is my favourite serve to do in singles. But doubles, no.

I much prefer doing backhand serves in doubles. For backhand serves it is much more natural to stand square to the table and a much more natural action to serve cross-court from the forehand side. You can still do lots of variations - backspin, topspin, sidespin. 

For left-handers it is completely different. They can do pendulum serves in doubles in the same way they as singles. I always envy left-handers in doubles because of this. Thinking about it - I can actually do a decent pendulum serve with my left hand. In my next doubles match, I might try this! Serve left handed and then switch to my right hand for my next shot. What could possibly go wrong? 

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@tom-lodziak Although for a RH player you don't get as much sidespin with the pendulum serve in doubles, one can still do it well enough.  I use it quite a lot as a short serve in the Short Middle position (backspin with sidespin, or even sometimes topspin with sidespin), and also Long Middle position (fast with topspin or backspin/sidespin). Having said that, it is with Seniors and at the lower end of intermediate level. It prevents cross court returns which are difficult for my various partners who cannot move quickly to the forehand side, as the ball is returned to the middle or to the left, and if the serve is long and fast the receiver is jammed. If my partner is good with his movement and forehand, then I do all of the backhand serves that Tom has described, still going for the middle short or long as much as possible, and sometimes going wide angle short.  The overriding objective with all my doubles serves is to prevent cross court to the wide forehand which is difficult for my partners to get to.

Tom Lodziak reacted