Tips and Tricks with Carl Danner: Returning Light Underspin Serves

One of the most challenging serves to return well is also the simplest — a light underspin fairly short on the table. This serve is difficult to flip hard if you can’t be sure of the spin. For this reason it is often used in world class play, not as a point winner but to force a cautious reply from the receiver.

Here are some options for dealing with this serve:

  • Push it back short and low, perhaps angled if you can manage it

  • Push it back deep and aggressively to a place from which your opponent is less comfortable attacking — then start the rally by returning his opening

  • Use a near-vertical racket face and give the ball a little push forward to create a no-spin push

  • For control, roll by making a little loop with a wrist motion instead of a flat flip


Focus also on your footwork. Moving in and out well is difficult, and footwork problems will hurt there more than you may realize.


Carl-Danner-2About Carl Danner: Carl Danner is a rare gem you find in table tennis. As a former nationally ranked and rated player, he offers a lot of insight into the game, especially when it comes to understanding the physical mechanics, movements, and techniques involved in becoming a better player. Director and Secretary US Table Tennis Association Foundation from 2004 to 2008 and current USATT High Performance Committee Chair, Danner is passionate, qualified, and committed to growing the sport of table tennis.

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