When you first start playing table tennis, it’s pretty simple – you hit the ball, and it bounces in a way that is predictable. But as you start playing more frequently, you realise there’s a lot more to the sport. Spin is a fundamental element of the sport. Learning how to spot spin, use it and counter it is what differentiates an amateur player from a professional.
To bring your game to the next level, master the spin and be able to effectively and consistently execute it. Learn now how you can execute a spin shot and become a skilled table tennis player:
The history of the spin
When table tennis was first invented in the 1880s, racquets looked more like badminton racquets – handles were long and thin, and the surfaces were made of parchment paper, instead of rubber or wood. People then started to experiment with animal hides, sandpaper and cork. Then, in 1902, E.C. Goode had the idea of including a sheet of rubber to table tennis paddles – and so, spin was born.
The addition of rubber revolutionised how people approached the game, their style of play and the types of shots they could deliver. Wooden bats, covered with rubber sheets, evolved into wooden bats with pimpled rubber surfaces. What took the game of table tennis further was when Japanese player Hiroji Satoh won the singles championship in 1952 with a sponge bat; it marked the beginning of the sponge era in table tennis. The sponge, which sits below the rubber topsheet, allows the ball to sink in before catapulting out with explosive energy – also creating spin.
What is spin and how do you achieve it?
Spin makes the ball move in unpredictably spectacular ways, adding an interesting new dimension and an element of complexity to the game. So how do you create spin exactly? Spin is created when the ball is tangentially brushed against your racket, meaning it’s not hit at a 90-degree angle. Experiment with the angle of your racket when striking, tilting it slightly upwards or slightly downwards. When force is applied in such a way to the ball, it causes it to rotate – making it spin. When the ball rotates in midair, differences in air pressure is created between the top, back and sides of the ball. This causes it to curve or dip.
Spins are precise and intentional; your opponent must recognise a spin shot to know how to counter it. Because of the speed of the ball, it can be difficult for the opponent to know exactly how to return a shot, making it challenging when spins are introduced to a game.
Types of spin in table tennis
There are three different types of spin: topspin, backspin and sidespin.
The topspin is an important offensive shot that a table tennis player with an attacking style of play should start mastering first. Topspin is generated when you start your stroke below the ball and strike it in an upward and forward motion. This will cause the ball to curve downwards, and for it to pick up considerable speed after it bounces off the table.
Backspin, known as the slice, is a good defensive shot that you can use to counter offensive topspin or sidespin shots. Carry out this shot by placing your racket behind and above the ball and brushing the ball in a downward and forward motion. Backspin decreases the downward pressure on the ball, causing it to rise upwards and not go forwards. When making contact with your opponent’s racket, it will rebound in a downwards direction. If not countered correctly, the ball will fail to go over the net.
Sidespins can be both an attacking or defending shot. There are two types of sidespins: the left sidespin and the right sidespin. For the left sidespin, brush the left side of the ball, which makes it go more to the right. For the right sidespin, brush the right side of the ball, so it goes more to the left.
Choose the right rubber to create powerful spin
There are several types of table tennis rubbers on the market. Choose between hard and soft rubbers, tacky and non-tacky rubbers and short-, medium- or long-pipped rubbers. Two types of rubbers can specifically help to generate more spin: soft-sponged rubbers and tacky rubbers.
Soft sponged rubbers help to absorb the energy of an incoming ball and deliver incredible levels of spin. The ball rotates rapidly, and a greater ball arc is created. Sin Ten’s Stiga DNA Platinum M Table Tennis Rubber is an excellent choice for those looking to increase their spin power. This grippy rubber offers superior grip and spin that allow for strikes at challenging angles and is also made with Power Sponge Cells that create a catapult effect.
The Donic Bluegrip C2 Table Tennis Rubber offers attacking players strong spin and high speeds. This slightly tacky rubber is made with a dynamic, fine-pored tension sponge that lends the ball a tremendous catapult effect. It is especially suited to players that have a dominant forehand topspin serve.
For those who want to carry out hard loop drives and tight counterloops and yet achieve a controlled level of play, can try the XIOM Omega VII Asia Table Tennis Rubber. A grippy rubber with a hard carbo sponge, it offers offensive players a strong advantage.