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If anything differentiates table tennis from other sports, it is spin. Most ball sports use spin in some way, but none to the extent table tennis does. At the higher levels, the spin becomes so extreme as to be unimaginable by those not experienced with it.

At the lower levels, the spin takes on lesser importance. Only two spins are used: topspin and backspin. Neither are produced to any great extent. However, without knowledge of and ability to use and deal with spin, no one (including children) can develop a full appreciation of the game.

If you hit a ball so that the top of the ball is rotating away from you (and the bottom rotating toward you), you have produced topspin. Topspin is used on nearly all attacking shots. A ball hit with topspin will sink faster than one without it. This makes the ball drop on the table even if it is hit hard. Without topspin, most hard hit shots would go off the end.

Backspin is the reverse of topspin. If you hit the ball so that the top rotates toward you (and the bottom away from you), you have produced backspin. Backspin is mostly a defensive spin, used to make the ball travel in a line and control it. It makes the ball rise - or it would, except gravity counteracts it. The two balance out, so the ball tends to travel in a straight line.

This would not be good if you hit the ball hard. The ball would go straight off the end with the backspin keeping it from dropping. However, by making the ball travel in a line, the ball can be made to stay at just above net level for a greater period of time. This makes it easier to keep the ball low throughout its flight and keeps the opponent from smashing it.

Kids don’t really need to know all the theory about spin. It’s enough if you explain to them that topspin forces the ball down and backspin slows it down. Then you only have to explain how spin is produced, which is used on what shots, and how to handle the different spins.

Topspin is produced by hitting the ball with an upward motion. The more you graze the ball, the more spin you get. Demonstrate this for the students by holding a ball in your free (non-racquet) hand and demonstrating a topspin stroke and contact with your other (racquet) hand. The kids should be able to see how the spin is produced. This will be elaborated on in the sections on the forehand and backhand drives.

Backspin is produced the same way but with a downward motion. This too can be demonstrated for kids by holding the ball and showing the stroke and contact. This will be elaborated on in the section on push.

To return a ball with spin, you have to compensate. For example, to return a backspin ball, you have to aim up to compensate for the spin or the ball will go into the net. To return a ball with topspin, you have to aim down or the ball will pop up or go off the end.

Spin is also used on the serve. For kids, it is best to stick to simple topspin and backspin serves, but later they may learn to put sidespin on the serve as well. It is up to you to decide what each child is capable of doing and then teaching him/her what he/she is willing and able to learn.

Copyright Larry Hodges

Copyright Mark Nordby, Dan Seemiller, John Oros

Copyright USA Table Tennis

Getting Started  <


>  Explaining The Rules


Last Update : 06 Kasım, 2002

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