How do you generally try to keep the ball low over the net on return of serve and other rallying strokes?

Ask the coachCategory: Tactics & match-playHow do you generally try to keep the ball low over the net on return of serve and other rallying strokes?
Bill asked 1 year ago

You did an article around 6 years ago about how to keep your serves low over the net, referring to a video about this topic from Ping Skills.

What I would like to know is where possible, do you also generally try to keep your return of serve low over the net, as well as other rallying strokes, assuming you are not going for an outright winner off a higher ball? If so, is the principle the same as trying to keep your serves low, although of course, you are more in control of the situation when you are doing the serve?

For those players who like to use topspin, I realise the ball needs to go over the net higher due to the arc on the forehand and backhand topspin strokes, but what about if you’re engaged in a backspin rally? Other than trying to push the ball to the opponent’s wide backhand, wide forehand, crossover point, backhand corner, forehand corner and so on, should you also try to be aiming the ball to go low over the net, should you decide to push the ball yourself?

Does aiming the ball low over the net also apply to forehand and backhand drive rallies as well, assuming your footwork is good enough to be in position to make these drives?

1 Answers
Tom Lodziak Staff answered 1 year ago

It really depends which shot you are playing.
Pushes – You should try and keep all your pushes low over the net, whether returning serves or using them in a rally. A high push doesn’t give you any advantage. It is much easier to attack. If you keep your push low, your opponent has to work much harder to attack the ball (or you force him to push back to you).
Drives – Generally, you should try to keep your drives low over the net too. A drive is a flatter shot. There’s a little bit of topspin, but not much. So if your drive is too high over the net, there may be a danger that the ball will go off the end of the table. But don’t obsess about this. A lot depends on the height of the incoming ball. If the ball is a little higher, your drive will probably go back a little higher over the net. As long as your drives are landing on the table, into a good position, they will be effective.
Topspins – With topspin it is different. It doesn’t matter if your ball goes a little higher over the net, as the topspin action will naturally make the ball arc over the net and dip back down. If you get plenty of speed and spin, with good ball placement, the shot will likely be effective. Some opponents may really struggle to control a higher arc topspin attack. But of course, a topspin attack which goes lower over the net, will be effective too.
There are other shots too. Blocks, chops and flicks are better low over the net. Lobs are better high over the net. So there is no strict rule here.