How to Put Spin on a Table Tennis Ball

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If you want to get better at playing table tennis one skill you should learn is adding spin to the ball. Spin is used to throw off your opponent and can be very effective in scoring more points. There are three types of spin; topspin, side spin, and backspin. Mixing things up and using all three types can make your raise your chances of winning even more. Here’s how to do them.


When a player puts top spin on a ball it causes the ball to lunge forward when it hits the receiver's side. If the receiver manages to hit the ball it will push up against the paddle and bounce higher then what would happen with a ball that was hit regularly. A ball with more bounce is easier to hit for the receiver.

In order to add topspin on a table tennis ball you’ll want to brush the top of the ball with your paddle. Hold the paddle at an upward angle. Start your stroke lower than the ball and push forward and upward at the same time. This will allow your paddle to brush the top of the ball spinning it but causing it to go to your opponent at the same time.

If you are adding topspin during a serve it’s a very similar process but you’ll need to hit your side of the table first. After throwing the ball straight up, hit the ball in the same manner. It can be hard to make it across the net because there will be a smaller amount of bounce. Practice doing this before you decided to use it during a match.

Side Spin

When a player puts side spin on a ball it causes the ball to swerve slightly in the same direction you push your paddle every time it bounces off of the table surface. If the receiver manages to hit the table tennis ball it will deflect off of the paddle in the same direction. It’s very hard to make an accurate hit on a ball that has side spin.

If you want to put side spin on a ball you want to push outward and pull or push your paddle to either side of you at the same time. There is no need to hold your paddle at an angle to add side spin but it is still relatively hard to pull off correctly and requires a bit of practice to perform right.

Adding side spin to a serve require a bit of calculation. You don’t want the ball to curve after the initial hit in a way that will bounce it off the side of the table. Depending on which direction you put the spin you’ll want to start the serve off in the farther corner to avoid this from happening.


If a player uses backspin on the ball it will cause the ball to go less of a distance and bounce higher during that initial hit. Sometimes it even bounces backwards and back over the net. If the receiver manages to hit the ball then the ball will travel in a downward motion off of the paddle.

If you want to put backspin on your ball you want to do the exact opposite as topspin. Start with your paddle going at a downward angle and at a higher height than the ball. Push downward and out at the same time and hit the bottom of the table tennis ball.

Backspin is especially useful during a serve. Like I mentioned previously, sometimes when you use backspin the ball will bounce on the receiver’s side and go back over the net to your side. This is especially true during a serve because after that initial bounce on your side it loses some of that outward power and is more likely to bounce back to you after hitting the receiver’s side.

This is considered good for you. According to the official rules of table tennis a player must allow the ball to bounce once on their side of the table before hitting it back across the net. If the receiver fails to hit the ball before it bounces back onto your side then they lose the point.

A Legal Serve

When a player puts spin on a ball a lot of the times it’s during a serve. Putting spin on a table tennis ball during a serve in a recreational game can be easy because your upward toss can also put spin on the ball. However, if you’re in an official tournament the rules of the game put steps in their legal service rules to prevent the toss from including spin. Here’s how you would serve the ball legally:

  • The first thing to remember is to always keep the table tennis ball in sight as well as your paddle hand for good measure. Keep your serves above the height of the table. This will help to prevent the umpire from giving you a foul.

  • It’s considered an illegal serve if you don’t serve behind the table’s baseline.

  • When you’re tossing the ball you want to do it at least 6 inches high and with an open palm. This allows for adequate time for the receiver to get ready and the open palm prevents spin being put on the ball.

  • Hit the ball as it is coming back down. You’re not allowed to let it bounce off of the table before hitting the ball. This is referred to as a double bounce because the ball needs to bounce once on the server’s side after hitting the ball.

  • Once the ball has been hit it must bounce once on the servers side, go over the net and bounce at least once on the receiver's side.

  • If the ball hits the net and bounces back onto the server’s side this is called a fault and the point is given to the receiver. If the ball hits the net and goes to the receiver’s side then this is called a let serve and the server needs to reserve. There is an unlimited amount of let serves.

Adding spin during the toss of a serve would make adding spin a lot easier because you’d just have to hit the ball across without using any of these other techniques. Using the information from above to add spin to a hit isn’t too difficult. Whether you’re playing professionally or recreationally spin is a useful technique to know.

Related Questions:

Can a Table Tennis Ball Go Around the Net?

As long as the ball hits your opponent’s side of the table at least once the ball is allowed to go around the net. When the ball goes around the net it usually means that there was some sort of spin added to the ball. This is very hard to accomplish.

Can You Hit a Table Tennis Ball Twice?

You cannot hit a table tennis ball twice in a row. If your original hit doesn’t look like it’s going to make it over the net you’re not allowed to hit it again. When ping pong first started getting popular in the late 1900’s if you hit any part of your hand with the ball it was considered a double hit. The rules have changed now to you can hit the ball with your racket hand as long as it’s with a part of your arm that is below the wrist and it was accidental.

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