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Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?

Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?

I don’t know if you have noticed, but when we watch table tennis matches, we often see table tennis players constantly bouncing the ball on the table before serving. Some people who don’t play table tennis may wonder why these players have such a habit.

This action may seem like a simple routine, but it serves several purposes that can affect the outcome of the game. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why table tennis players bounce the ball before serving.

The Art of Serving

The serve in table tennis is a crucial element that can dictate the flow of the game. A well-executed serve can give the server an advantage and potentially lead to a point. Serving involves tossing the ball and striking it with the paddle, sending it over the net and onto the opponent’s side of the table.

In our previous blog posts, we have provided tutorials on serving as a pro and returning serves in table tennis. If you want to learn more about these table tennis techniques, click on the links provided.

One common practice among table tennis players is bouncing the ball on the table or their paddle before serving, which might seem curious to onlookers. This article will explore the reasons behind this habit.

Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?

Reasons for Bouncing the Ball Before Serving

Building Rhythm and Timing

Bouncing the ball before serving helps players establish a rhythm and timing, which are essential for executing an effective serve. Players can fine-tune their coordination and mentally prepare for their serves with a consistent pre-serve routine, such as bouncing the ball. Establishing this rhythm enables them to concentrate better and perform more effectively during the game.

A pre-serve routine can help players feel more relaxed during high-pressure situations. The familiarity of the routine creates a sense of stability, allowing them to maintain their composure and deliver high-quality serves. Some players also like to touch the table between the points. The reason is more or less the same.

Feeling the Ball and Grip Adjustment

Another reason for bouncing the ball is to get a better feel for it and adjust the grip on the paddle accordingly. The ball’s texture, weight, and bounce can vary slightly between different brands and even individual balls.

Bouncing the ball before serving allows players to familiarize themselves with the ball’s overall characteristics. This is essential as there can be slight variations between different balls, even those from the same brand or batch. Players have to adjust their grip and serving technique to ensure optimal performance according to the different ball feelings.

In addition to assessing the ball’s properties, bouncing it allows players to adjust their grip on the paddle. A proper grip is vital for generating the desired spin, speed, and trajectory during the serve. A well-adjusted grip can lead to more accurate and effective serves, giving the player an advantage over their opponent.

Mental Preparation and Focus

Mental preparation and focus are essential components of success in table tennis. Before serving, players need to collect their thoughts, visualize their serve, and mentally commit to their chosen serving strategy. Bouncing the ball before serving can serve as a valuable moment for this mental preparation.

During this brief pause, players can clear their minds of distractions, concentrate on their game plan, and mentally rehearse their intended serve. This process can be particularly crucial in high-pressure situations, such as during a close match or when facing a strong opponent.

By staying focused and mentally prepared, players can increase their chances of executing their serves effectively and maintaining control of the game.

Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?

Checking Ball Quality and Legal Serving

Checking ball quality and ensuring a legal serve are important aspects of table tennis that can significantly impact a player’s performance. Bouncing the ball before serving offers players an opportunity to examine the ball’s condition and confirm that their serve adheres to the rules of the game.

Ball quality can vary due to manufacturing inconsistencies or damage sustained during play. A damaged or irregularly shaped ball can affect its trajectory, bounce, and spin, potentially putting the server at a disadvantage. By bouncing the ball, players can quickly assess its quality and, if necessary, request a replacement before starting their serve.

Psychological Impact on the Opponent

The psychological impact on the opponent is a significant factor in table tennis, and bouncing the ball before serving can contribute to this effect. This seemingly simple action can influence the opponent’s mental state, potentially providing the server with an advantage during the match.

When a player bounces the ball before serving, it can disrupt the opponent’s concentration, making them impatient or anxious as they await the serve. This anticipation may cause them to lose focus, become less confident, or make hasty decisions that result in errors. The specific serving routine can create a sense of unpredictability, making it challenging for the opponent to anticipate the timing and nature of the serve.

Moreover, bouncing the ball can help the server project confidence and assert control over the game. This display of composure can be intimidating to the opponent, causing them to second-guess their abilities or become hesitant in their play.

Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?

The Importance of a Good Serve

Setting the Tone of the Game

A good serve sets the tone for the game, dictating the pace and style of play. An effective serve can catch the opponent off-guard, force them into a weak return, or even score an outright point (an “ace”). The serve can be a powerful weapon in a player’s arsenal, helping them seize control of the match.

Gaining an Advantage

A well-executed serve can provide an advantage by placing the opponent in a defensive position. This can make it difficult for them

to return the ball effectively, increasing the server’s chances of winning the point. A strong serve can also intimidate the opponent, making them more likely to make mistakes or become hesitant in their play.

Variety in Serving Techniques

Table tennis players use a variety of serving techniques to keep their opponents guessing. These techniques can include different spins, speeds, and placement on the table. By regularly changing their serving style, players can make it difficult for their opponents to predict and adapt to their serves, increasing their chances of winning points.

Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?

Tips for Effective Table Tennis Serving

Mastering the Basics

Before attempting advanced serving techniques, it is essential to master the basics. This includes understanding the rules governing legal serves, developing a consistent toss, and learning to generate spin on the ball. Once these fundamentals are in place, players can begin to experiment with more advanced serving strategies.

Experimenting with Different Serves

To keep opponents on their toes, table tennis players should experiment with various serves. This can involve trying different spins, speeds, and placements, as well as practicing deceptive serves that disguise the ball’s trajectory. The more varied and unpredictable a player’s serves are, the more difficult it will be for their opponents to mount a strong defense.

Mental Strength and Strategy

In addition to technical skill, mental strength and strategy play a crucial role in table tennis serving. Players should develop a game plan for their serves, taking into account their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their opponent. By staying focused and committed to their serving strategy, players can maximize their chances of success.

Why Do Table Tennis Players Bounce the Ball Before Serving?


In summary, table tennis players bounce the ball before serving

for several reasons, including building rhythm and timing, feeling the ball and adjusting their grip, mental preparation and focus, checking ball quality and ensuring a legal serve, and creating a psychological impact on their opponent. Serving is a critical aspect of table tennis, as it sets the tone for the game and can provide a significant advantage when executed effectively. To improve their serves, players should focus on mastering the basics, experimenting with different serving techniques, and developing a strong mental game plan.


  1. Is bouncing the ball before serving mandatory in table tennis? No, bouncing the ball before serving is not mandatory. It is a personal preference for many players and helps them with various aspects of their game, as discussed in this article.
  2. What are the basic rules for serving in table tennis? Some basic serving rules include tossing the ball vertically at least 6 inches (15 cm) without any spin, striking the ball behind the endline of the table, and ensuring the ball first bounces on the server’s side and then on the opponent’s side of the table.
  3. Can a player use the same serve repeatedly during a match? While a player can technically use the same serve repeatedly, it is not advisable, as it can make their serves predictable and easy to counter for the opponent. Players should aim to mix up their serves to keep their opponents guessing.
  4. How can I practice my table tennis serves? To practice your serves, you can use a table tennis robotor practice with a partner. Focus on consistency, placement, and varying spins, speeds, and techniques. You can also practice alone by folding up one side of the table, serving against the vertical half, and observing the ball’s bounce and trajectory.
  5. What is the most challenging serve to return in table tennis? The most challenging serve to return varies depending on the skill level and style of the receiving player. However, serves with a combination of speed, spin, and deceptive placement can be particularly difficult for opponents to read and return effectively.

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