Every ping pong player has to encounter spun attacks of varying intensities every now and then. Knowing and preparing on how to return every spin serve is important. Every serve requires specific tactics for it to be returned successfully. You should learn and understand the tactics before getting in the field.

Varying serve spins calls for specific actions for them to be returned appropriately. For you to understand how you should return them, read the following detailed article. It explains how you should return each serve spin according to how it was made.

1. Backspin serve

Returning a backspin serve may be the hardest thing in ping pong, especially for the beginners. It is a complex serve that most players, even the pros, love using. Successfully returning it is not easy and requires a quick reaction that is appropriate.

There are various ways of returning a backspin serve depending on how it comes. For short, heavy backspin serves, you can use any of the following ways.

  • Using a push/touch that causes a short return
  • Pushing harder or digging through the ball and forcing it back further (long return)
  • Attacking the ball with your wrist and making a flick/flip

All the above methods of returning a short backspin serve are applicable. You can only choose the best one when playing. Start by trying all of them and noting the one that best fails your opponent.

Long serves can best be returned with heavy attacks. It is always good for you to be the one that starts smashing. Basically, the following are the ways of effectively return a long backspin.

  • Returning the ball with force (looping)
  • Digging under the ball and causing a long, heavy delivery

Most players return long backspins with loops. They also expect the same of you. Digging under the ball, therefore, remains an unpredictable tactic for you.

2. Sidespin serves

Sidespin serve are always tricky, and returning them may be a big challenge to many. For you to be able to successfully return sidespin serves, you will need to correctly predict where the ball will head. The prediction is this simple; always expect the ping pong ball to follow the opponent’s paddle. If his paddle swings to the left, expect the ball to go to the left after bouncing, and vice versa.

The intensity of a sidespin serve determines the method of return you will use. For short sidespins, you can use any of the following methods to successfully return them.

  • Touch/push the ball lightly and cause a short return
  • Dig/push the ball heavily and cause a long return
  • Flick the ball with the help of your wrist and cause a spiced attack

For all the methods of returning a sidespin serve, your racket should slightly be adjusted to compensate the sidespin force. Both pushes do not require strong under spins. The flick allows a bit deeper spins and can be flavored with an aggressive hit.

Long sidespins may not need so much compensation. They allow you to make an aggressive attack that forces the ping pong ball back to track even if it was headed to the sides. The long serves that have sidespins can be returned using any of the following methods.

  • Looping/attacking with a topspin
  • Digging/ pushing the ball and causing a good backspin

Strong loops allow you to overcome the sidespins and may be the best option for returning such serves. Returning sidespin serves with a loop is, however, difficult and may not be the best choice for players, especially the beginners.

3. Topspin serves

Topspin serves are also called rally serves. They are normally used as a trick whereby the opponent first makes a short or long topspin for you to return the ball with a predetermined technique that will allow him to attack you with the third ball. Topspin serves basically creates predictability.


For balls served with a short topspin, you can successfully return them using any of the following methods. You should try and make an unexpected return that will favor you.

  • Flicking/attacking with the help of your wrist
  • Pushing/chop-blocking the ball’s back and causing a spinning return

Topspin serves that are short are best returned with a flick. The opponent is, however, expecting that and should, therefore, be tricked. You can make your shot trickier by making it fast but flat or slower but spinning.

Long serves that have topspin can only be returned with one method. The method is as follows.

  • Looping/attacking with a topspin

Long serves are trickier and require keenness. You should be able to gauge the long serve correctly and place your paddle accordingly. Make sure to always get the long topspin ball before it starts going back down after a bounce.


Spin serves are always tricky and require so much for them to be returned successfully. Enough practice must be done for you to improve your alertness. Learn and train on how to return each spin serve correctly. Always be ready to make a quick move for all the shots that you receive.


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