Club History 1996

Scott Gordon formed a table tennis club in Santa Rosa (California) in 1996, with one table in a small room in a church. He was the only member. For the first month, the meetings had between 1 and 4 attendees, but he didn’t give up. Within 3 years, he had expanded to 12 tables and was drawing 50-70 players each meeting, two days a week with round robins one day each week and open play on the other day. This was in a medium-sized city that did not previously have a table tennis club. Over half of the players were novices (less than 1000 USATT rating), and they came week after week.

17 years later and still going strong.

David Kent our USATT Certified Coach and Club Facilitator continues the history by welcoming local enthusiasts as well as visitors as far away as San Francisco and even other countries during college time from Sonoma State University.

Directions to SRTTCLUB

Club Location

We are located at 1455 Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park Ca.

The Facility is on Golf Course Drive on the right side of the street. You will see a parking lot after Gavin Way on the right side of the street. In the back is the facility.

It is directly across the street from the Park. Click the Map below for a larger Image if needed.

Gold-Ridge

inside

table tennis front with drive

map

Contact David Kent dwkent@sonic.net for more information.

map

Edit

Rules of the Game

01. The Table

1.1 The table shall be in surface rectangular, 274 cm. (9 ft.) in length, 152.5 cm. (5 ft.) in width. It shall be supported so that its upper surface, termed the playing surface, shall lie in a horizontal plane 76 cm. (2 ft. 6 in.) above the floor.
1.2 It shall be made of any material and shall yield a uniform bounce of about 23 cm. (8 3/4 in.) when a standard ball is dropped from a height of 30 cm. (12 in.) above the surface.
1.3 The playing surface shall be dark colored and matt, with a white line 2 cm. (3/4 inch) wide along each edge.
1.3.1 The lines along the 152.5 cm. (5 ft.) edges or ends shall be termed end lines, and they shall be regarded as extending indefinitely in both directions.
1.3.2 The lines along the 274 cm. (9 ft.) edges or sides shall be termed side lines.
1.4 For doubles, the playing surface shall be divided into halves by a white line 3 mm. (1/8 in.) wide, running parallel with the side lines, termed the center line. Permanent marking of the center line shall not invalidate the table for singles play. The center line shall be regarded as part of each right hand court.
1.5 The playing surface shall be considered to include the top edges of the table, but not the sides of the table top below the edge.

02. The Net Assembly

2.1 The playing surface shall be divided into two “courts” of equal size by a vertical net running parallel to the end lines.
2.2 The net assembly shall consist of the net, its suspension, and the supporting posts, including the clamps attaching them to the table.
2.3 The net shall be suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 15.25 cm. (6 in.) high, the outside limits of the post being 15.25 cm. outside the side lines.
2.4 The net, with its suspension, along its whole length, shall be 15.25 cm. (6 in.) above the playing surface. The bottom of the net, along its whole length, shall be as close as possible to the playing surface and the ends of the net shall be as close as possible to the supporting posts.

03. The Ball

3.1 The ball shall be spherical, with a diameter of 40 mm. The ball shall weigh 2.7 gm.
3.2 The ball shall be made of celluloid or similar plastic material and shall be white or orange and matte.

04. The Racket

4.1 The racquet may be of any size, shape, or weight but the blade shall be flat and rigid.
4.2 At least 85% of the blade by thickness shall be of natural wood. An adhesive layer within the blade may be reinforced with fibrous material such as carbon fiber, glass fiber, or compressed paper but shall not be thicker than 7.5% of the total thickness or 0.35 mm, whichever is the smaller.
4.3 A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber with pimples outward having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2 mm. or sandwich rubber with pimples inwards or outward having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4 mm.
4.3.1 Ordinary pimpled rubber is a single layer of non-cellular rubber, natural or synthetic, with pimples evenly distributed over its surface at a density of not less than 10 per sq. cm. and not more than 50 per sq. cm.
4.3.2 Sandwich rubber is a single layer of cellular rubber covered with a single outer layer of ordinary pimpled rubber, the thickness of the pimpled rubber not being more than 2 mm.
4.4 The covering material shall extend up to but not beyond the limits of the blade, except that the part nearest the handle and gripped by the fingers may be left uncovered or covered with any material and may be considered part of the handle.
4.5 The blade, any layer within the blade, and any layer of covering material or adhesive shall be continuous and of even thickness.
4.6 The surface of the covering material on a side of a blade or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, bright red on one side and black on the other.
4.7 Slight deviations from uniformity of color or continuity of covering due to fading, wear, or accidental damage may be ignored provided they do not significantly change the characteristics of the surface.
4.8 At the start of a match and if he changes his racquet during a match, a player shall show his opponent and the umpire the racquet he is about to use and shall allow them to examine it.
4.9 If a player breaks his racquet during a game, he shall replace it immediately with another racquet which he has brought with him to the playing area or one which is handed to him in the playing area. A racket shall not be changed in an individual match unless it is accidentally damaged so badly that it cannot be used. If a player changes a racket during an individual match without notification, the umpire shall suspend play and report to the referee.
4.10 The covering material on a side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be of a brand and type currently approved by the USATT and shall be attached to the blade so that the trademark and ITTF logo (if applicable) are clearly visible near the edge of the striking surface.
4.11 If a player strikes the ball in play with a side of the blade whose surface does not comply with the requirements of the Rules, his opponent will be awarded a point.

05.Definitions

5.1 A rally is the period during which the ball is in play.
5.2 The ball is in play from the last moment at which it is stationary on the palm of the free hand before being intentionally projected in service until it touches anything other than the playing surface, the net assembly, the racquet held in the racquet hand or the racquet hand below the wrist, or until the rally is otherwise decided a let or a point.
5.3 A let is a rally of which the result is not scored.
5.4 A point is a rally of which the result is scored.
5.5 The racquet hand is the hand carrying the racquet.
5.6 The free hand is the hand not carrying the racquet.
5.7 A player strikes the ball if he touches it in play with his racquet, held in the racquet hand, or with his racquet hand below the wrist.
5.8 A player obstructs the ball if he or anything he wears or carries, touches it in play when it is traveling toward the playing surface and has not passed beyond the end line, not having touched his court since last being struck by his opponent.
5.9 The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally.
5.10 The receiver is the player due to strike the ball second in a rally.
5.11 The umpire is the person appointed to decide the results of each rally.
5.12 The assistant umpire is the person appointed to assist the umpire. The stroke counter is the person appointed to count strokes under the expedite system.
5.13 Anything that a player wears or carries includes anything that he was wearing or carrying at the start of the rally.
5.14 The ball shall be regarded as passing over or around the net assembly if it passes under or outside the projection of the net assembly outside the table.

06. Service

6.1 Service shall start with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the server’s stationary free hand.
6.2 The server shall then project the ball near vertically upwards, without imparting spin, so that it rises as least 16 cm after leaving the palm of the free hand and then falls without touching anything before being struck.
6.3 As the ball is falling, the server shall strike it so that it touches first his court and then, passing directly over or around the net assembly touches the receiver’s court. In doubles the ball shall touch successively the right half court of the server and receiver.
6.4 From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server’s end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver by any part of the body or clothing of the server or his doubles partner.
6.5 It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can see that he complies with the requirements for a good service.
6.5.1 If there is no Assistant Umpire, and the umpire is doubtful of the legality of a service he may, on the first occasion in a match, warn the server without awarding a point.
6.5.2 If subsequently in the match a service by that player or his doubles partner is of dubious legality, for same reason or for any other reason, the receiver shall score a point.
6.5.3 Whenever there is a clear failure to comply with the requirements for a good service, no warning shall be given and the receiver shall score a point.
6.5.4 Exceptionally, the umpire may relax the requirements for a good service where he is satisfied that compliance is prevented by physical disability.
6.6 If, in attempting to serve, a player fails to strike the ball while it is in play, his opponent will be awarded a point.

07. A Good Return

7.1 The ball, having been served or returned in play, shall be struck so that it passes directly over or around the net assembly and touches the opponent’s court, either directly or after touching the net assembly.
7.1.1 If the ball, having been served or returned in play, returns with its own impetus over the net, it may be struck so that it touches directly the opponent’s court.

08. The Order Of Play

8.1 In singles, the server shall first make a good service, the receiver shall then make a good return, and thereafter, server and receiver alternately shall each make a good return.
8.2 In doubles, the server shall first make a good service, the receiver shall then make a good return, the partner of the server shall then make a good return, the partner of the receiver shall then make a good return, and thereafter, each player alternately in that sequence shall make a good return.

09. A Let

A rally is a let:
9.1 If in service the ball, in passing over or around the net assembly, touches it, provided the serve is otherwise good or is obstructed by the receiver or his partner.
9.2 If the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his partner attempts to strike the ball.
9.3 If, the failure to make a good service or a good return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player.
9.4 If play is interrupted by the umpire or assistant umpire.
9.4.1 To correct an error in the order of serving or receiving or ends.
9.4.2 To introduce the expedite system.
9.4.3 To warn or penalize a player.
9.4.4 Because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally.

10. A Point

Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score the point:
10.1 If his opponent fails to make a good service.
10.2 If his opponent fails to make a good return.
10.3 If, after he has made a good service or a good return, the ball touches anything other than the net assembly before being struck by his opponent.
10.4 If the ball passes beyond his end line without touching his court, after being struck by his opponent.
10.5 If his opponent obstructs the ball, except as provided in Rule 9.1.
10.6 If his opponent strikes the ball twice successively.
10.7 If his opponent strikes the ball with a side of the racquet blade having an illegal surface.
10.8 If his opponent, or anything he wears or carries, moves the playing surface.
10.9 If his opponent, or anything he wears or carries, touches the net assembly.
10.10 If his opponent’s free hand touches the playing surface.
10.11 If, in doubles, his opponent strikes the ball out of sequence established by the first server and first receiver.
10.12 As provided under the expedite system.
10.13 If the umpire assesses a penalty point against his opponent.

11. A Game

11.1 A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 11 points unless both players or pairs score 10 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points.

12. A Match

12.1 A match shall consist of the best of any odd number of games.
12.2 Play shall be continuous throughout, except for authorized intervals.

13.Intervals

Play shall be continuous throughout a match except that any player is entitled to:
13.1 An interval of up to 1 minute between successive games of a match.
13.2 Brief intervals for toweling after every 6 points from the start of each game and at the change of ends in the last possible game of a match.
13.3 A player or pair may claim one time-out period of up to 1 minute during a match.
13.3.1 In an individual event the request may be made by the player or pair or by the designated advisor. In a team event it may be made by the player or pair or by the team captain.
13.3.2 The request for a time-out, which shall be made only when the ball is out of play, shall be made by making a “T” sign with the hands.
13.3.3 On receiving a valid request for a time-out the umpire shall suspend play. Play will be resumed when the player or pair who called it is ready to continue or at the end of one minute, whichever is sooner.
13.4 The referee may allow a suspension of play of the shortest practical duration, and in no circumstances more than 10 minutes, if a player is temporarily incapacitated by an accident, provided that in the opinion of the referee the suspension is not likely to be unduly disadvantageous to the opposing player or pair.
13.5 A suspension shall not be allowed for a disability which was present or was reasonably to be expected at the beginning of the match, or where it is due to the normal stress of play. Disability such as cramp or exhaustion, caused by the player’s current state of fitness or by the manner in which play has proceeded, does not justify such an emergency suspension, which may be allowed only for incapacity resulting from an accident, such as injury caused by a fall.
13.6 If anyone in the playing area is bleeding, play shall be suspended immediately and shall not resume until that person has received medical treatment and all traces of blood have been removed from the playing area.
13.7 Players shall remain in or near the playing area throughout a match except with the permission of the referee. During intervals between games they shall remain within 3 meters of the playing area under the supervision of the umpire.

14. The Choice of Ends and Serves

14.1 The choice of ends and the right to serve or receive first in a match shall be decided by lot and the winner may choose to serve or receive first or to start at a particular end.
14.2 When one player or pair has chosen to serve or receive first or to start at a particular end, the other player or pair shall have the other choice.
14.3 After each 2 points have been scored the receiving player or pair shall become the serving player or pair and so on until the end of the game, unless both players or pairs score 10 points or the expedite system is in operation, when the sequence of serving and receiving shall be the same but each player shall serve for only 1 point in turn.
14.4 In the first game of a match the pair who has the right to serve first shall decide which of them shall do so and in the first game of a match, the opposing pair shall then decide which partner will receive first. In subsequent games of a match, the first server having been chosen, the first receiver shall be the player who served to him in the preceding game.
14.5 In doubles, at each change of service the previous receiver shall become the server and the partner of the previous server shall become the receiver.
14.6 The player or pair serving first in a game shall receive first in the next game of the match, and in the last possible game of a doubles match the pair due to receive next shall change their order of receiving when first one pair scores 5 points.
14.7 The player or pair starting at one end in a game shall start at the other end in the next game of the match and in the last possible game of a match the players or pairs shall change ends when first one player or pair scores.

15. The Expedite System

15.1 Except where both players or pairs have scored at least 9 points, the expedite system shall come into operation if a game is unfinished after 10 minutes play or at any earlier time at the request of both players or pairs.
15.1.1 If the ball is in play when the game is interrupted, play shall restart with service by the player who served in the rally that was interrupted.
15.1.2 If the ball was not in play when the game was interrupted, play shall restart with service by the player who received service in the immediately preceding rally.
15.2 Thereafter, each player shall serve 1 point in turn. If the receiving player or pair makes thirteen successive good returns, the receiver shall score a point.
15.3 If the expedite system is introduced, or if a game lasts longer than 10 minutes, all subsequent games of the match shall be played under the expedite system.

16. Equipment

16.1 Players shall not choose balls in the playing area.
16.1.1 Whenever possible players shall be given the opportunity to choose one or more balls before coming to the playing area. The match shall be played with one of these balls, taken at random by the umpire.
16.1.2 If a ball has not been chosen before players come to the playing area, the match shall be played with a ball taken at random by the umpire from a box of those specified for the competition.
16.1.3 If a ball has to be replaced during a match, the replacement shall be provided according to the procedures of Rules 17.1.1 and 17.1.2.
16.2 Unless otherwise authorized by the umpire, players shall leave their racquets on the table during intervals.

17. Practice
17.1 Players are entitled to practice on the match table for up to 2 minutes immediately before the start of a match but not during normal intervals. The specified practice period may be extended only with the permission of the referee.
17.2 During an emergency suspension of play, the referee may allow players to practice on any table, including the match table.
17.3 Players shall be given reasonable opportunity to check and familiarize themselves with any equipment, which they are to use. However, this shall not automatically entitle them to more than a few practice rallies before resuming play after the replacement of a damaged ball or racquet.

18.Discipline (Advice)

18.1 Advice.
18.1.1 In a team event, players may receive advice from anyone.
18.1.2 In an individual event, a player or pair may receive advice only from one person, designated beforehand to the umpire. If the players of a doubles pair are from different associations, each may designate an adviser. If an unauthorized person gives advice, the umpire shall hold up a red card and send him away from the playing area.
18.1.3 Players may receive advice only during the intervals between games, during a time-out or during other authorized suspension of play. If any authorized person gives advice at other times, the umpire shall hold up a yellow card to warn him that any further such offense will result in his dismissal from the playing area.
18.1.4 After a warning has been given, if in the same team match or the same match of an individual event anyone again gives advice illegally, the umpire shall hold up a red card and send him away from the playing area, whether or not he was the person warned.
18.1.5 In a team match, the dismissed adviser shall not be allowed to return, except when required to play, until the team match has ended. In an individual event, he shall not be allowed to return until the individual match has ended.
18.1.6 If the dismissed adviser refuses to leave or returns before the end of the match, the umpire shall suspend play and report to the referee.
18.1.7 These regulations shall apply only to advice on play and shall not prevent a player or captain, as appropriate, from making a legitimate appeal nor hinder a consultation with an interpreter or association representative on the explanation of a juridical decision.
18.2 Misbehavior.
18.2.1 Players and coaches shall refrain from conduct that may unfairly affect an opponent, offend spectators or bring the game into disrepute. Examples are: abusive language, deliberately breaking the ball or hitting it out of the playing area, kicking the table or surrounds or disrespect to match officials.
18.2.2 If at any time a player or coach commits a serious offence the umpire shall suspend play and report immediately to the referee. For less serious offences the umpire may, on the first occasion, hold up a yellow card and warn the offender that any further offence is liable to incur penalties.
18.2.3 If a player who has been warned commits a second offence in the same individual or team match, the umpire shall award one point to the player’s opponent and after a further offence he shall award two points to his opponent, each time holding up a yellow and a red card together.
18.2.4 If a player against whom 3 penalty points have been awarded in the same individual or team match continues to misbehave the umpire shall suspend play and report immediately to the referee.
19.2.5 A warning or penalty incurred by either player of a doubles pair shall apply to the pair, but not to the non-offending player in a subsequent individual match of the same team match. At the start of a doubles match the pair shall be regarded as having incurred the higher of any warnings or penalties incurred by either player in the same team match.
18.2.6 If a coach who has been warned commits a further offence in the same individual or team match the umpire shall hold up a red card and send him away from the playing area until the end of the team match, or in an individual event, the end of the individual match.
18.2.7 The referee shall have power to disqualify a player from a match, an event, or a competition for seriously unfair or offensive behavior whether reported by the umpire or not. As he does so he shall hold up a red card.
18.2.8 A player who is disqualified from 2 individual matches of a team or individual event shall automatically be disqualified from that team event or individual competition.
18.2.9 The referee may disqualify for the remainder of a competition anyone who has twice been sent away from the playing area during that competition.
18.2.10 Cases of serious misbehavior shall be reported by the referee to the USATT disciplinary committee.

19. Clothing (Dress Code)

19.1 Playing clothing shall normally consist of a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or skirt, socks, and playing shoes; other garments, such as part or all of a track suit, shall not be worn during play except with the permission of the referee.
19.2 Clothing may be of any color or colors except that:
19.2.1 The main color of a shirt, skirts, or shorts, other than sleeves or collar of a shirt and trimming along side seams or near the edges, shall be clearly different from that of the ball in use.
19.3 A playing garment may carry:
19.3.1 The maker’s normal trademark, symbol, or name contained within a total area of 24 sq. cm.
19.3.2 Not more than 3 clearly-separated advertisements contained within a combined total area of 200 sq. cm. on the front or side of a shirt and one advertisement, contained within a total area of 200 sq. cm. on the back of a shirt.
19.3.3 Not more than two advertisements contained within a combined total area of 80 sq. cm. on shorts or a skirt.
19.4 Any markings or trimming on the front or side of a playing garment and any objects such as jewelry worn by a player shall not be so conspicuous or brightly reflecting as to unsight an opponent.
19.5 Players must wear socks and soft-soled shoes.
19.6 Clothing shall not carry designs or lettering which might cause offense or bring the game into disrepute. Absolutely no playing without a shirt, no cutoffs, no jeans, and no tank shirts. Women may wear sleeveless blouses.
19.7 Opposing players and pairs shall wear clothing that is sufficiently different to enable them to be easily distinguished by spectators. If the players or pairs cannot agree on who will change if necessary, the umpire will decide by toss.
19.8 Any question of the legality or acceptability of playing clothing shall be decided by the referee.
19.9 Warm-up suits should not be worn during play unless with special permission of the referee. It is his discretion of conformity to the above requirements.

20. Disabled Competition

20.1 Disabled table tennis players are divided into ten divisions or classes using a functional classification system.
20.2 Classes one to five compete in wheelchairs and classes six to ten play standing.
20.3 Separate events may be held for each class and sex or various combinations may be used.
20.4 For more information on classification of disabled athletes, contact the USATT Disabled Players Committee.
20.5 Standing disabled players follow all standard rules; there are a few modifications for wheelchair play.
Wheelchair Rules
20.6 The table shall allow access to wheelchairs without obstructing player’s legs and shall allow access to two wheelchairs for doubles matches (no cross bars between end legs).
20.7 The court length may be reduced, but should not be less than 8 meters long and must be enclosed by surrounds.
20.8 A service in singles shall be as in Paragraph 6 except that a let shall be called if in service the ball:
20.8.1 Leaves the table by either of the receiver’s side lines (on one or more bounces) or
20.8.2 On bouncing on the receiver’s side returns in the direction of the net or
20.8.3 Comes to rest on the receiver’s side of the playing surface.
20.9 However, if the receiver strikes the ball before it crosses a side line or takes a second bounce on his side of the playing surface, the service shall be considered good and no let shall be called.
20.10 Class 1 and 2 players are not required to project the ball upward from the palm of the free hand. Players in these classes may hold the ball and project it upward in any manner. Regardless of the method, no spin may be imparted to the ball and the ball still must rise at least 6 inches from the hand.
20.11 Responsibility still rests with the server to serve so that the umpire or assistant umpire can check the legality of the serve.
20.12 During play, a player may touch the playing surface with the free hand, only to restore balance after striking the ball (provided the playing surface is not moved).
20.13 The playing surface shall not be used as a support with the free hand while playing the ball.
20.14 A player or pair shall score a point if the footrest or a foot of their opponent touch the floor during play.
20.15 In team and class singles events, no part of the body above the knees may be attached to the chair, as this could improve balance. Below knees, strapping is allowed.
20.16 Should a player require some strapping or binding for medical reasons, this should be noted on their classification card and will be taken into account when assessing the player’s class.
20.17 In open events, strapping and other aids are allowed.
20.18 No player shall compete in a wheelchair event unless he has been given an appropriate disabled classification.
Wheelchair Doubles
20.19 Service shall be as above for singles play, but the ball may leave the table by the side line of the receiver’s right half-court.
20.20 The server shall first make a good service and the receiver shall make a good return, and thereafter either player of a pair may return the ball.
20.21 During play, no part of a player’s wheelchair shall cross the vertical plane of an imaginary extension of the table’s center line. If it does, the opposing pair shall score a point.

21. Playing Conditions

21.1 Space. The normal playing space for each table should be 14 m. (46 ft.) long, 7 m. (23 ft.) wide and 5 m. (16 ft.) high.
21.2 For further information on Playing Conditions, please refer to the USATT Tournament Guide.

22. Match Officials

22.1 For every competition as a whole as referee shall be appointed. The referee shall be responsible for:
22.1.1 Interpretation of laws and regulations for competition.
22.1.2 Assignment and, if necessary, replacement of match officials.
22.2 An umpire shall be appointed for each match or at the request of any player or pair in that match. Where practical an assistant umpire will also be appointed.
22.2.1 The umpire shall sit or stand in line with the net and the assistant umpire shall sit directly facing him, at the other side of the table.
22.2.2 The umpire shall be responsible for:
22.2.2.1 Checking the acceptability of equipment and playing conditions and reporting any deficiency to the referee.
22.2.2.2 Taking a ball at random in accordance with the rules.
22.2.2.3 Conducting the draw for choice of serving, receiving and ends.
22.2.2.4 Controlling the order of serving, receiving and ends and correcting any errors therein.
22.2.2.5 Deciding each rally as a point or a let.
22.2.2.6 Calling the score in accordance with specified procedure.
22.2.2.7 Introducing the expedite system at the appropriate time.
22.2.2.8 Maintaining the continuity of play.
22.2.2.9 Taking action for breaches of the advice or behavior regulations.
22.3 The assistant umpire shall decide whether the ball in play touches the edge of the playing surface at the side of the table top nearest to him.
22.4 Either the umpire or the assistant umpire may decide:
22.4.1 That a player’s service action is illegal.
22.4.2 That, in an otherwise good service, the ball touches the net assembly while passing over or around it.
22.4.3 That a player obstructs the ball.
22.4.4 That the conditions of play are disturbed in a way that may affect the outcome of the rally.
22.4.5 Time the duration of the practice period, of play, and of any intervals.
22.5 Either the assistant umpire or a separate official may act as stroke counter to count the strokes of the receiving player or pair when the expedite system is in operation.
22.6 The umpire may not overrule the assistant umpire or stroke counter on a decision of fact made within their area of responsibility.

23. Doping

23.1 There shall be no doping before or during play in any competition. For the purpose of these regulations, doping is the introduction into the body in any way of any of a list of prohibited substances as provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and/or the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). A player who fails a doping test shall be subject to disciplinary action per the USATT Bylaws and Standing Rules. It is the athlete’s responsibility to remain informed of lists of banned substances through the USADA Drug Reference Line. As of this printing, the Drug Reference Line is 800-233-0393.

 

It’s Just a Song…..

Operator Please are an Australian pop band, originating on the Gold Coast of Queensland, in 2005. Their current lineup consists of vocalist and guitarist Amandah Wilkinson, drummer Tim Commandeur, keyboardist Chris Holland, Ashley McConnell on bass guitar, and violinist Taylor Henderson.

The original members met and formed Operator Please as students of Elanora State High School in order to compete in the school’s “Battle of the Bands” competition. In 2007, Operator Please released the singles “Get What You Want”, “Leave It Alone”, “Just a Song About Ping Pong” and their debut studio album, Yes Yes Vindictive. “Just a Song About Ping Pong”, their most successful single to date, was nominated for two ARIA Awards in 2007, winning one for Breakthrough Artist – Single.

Non Video Link:

Coach’s Corner By David Kent

 These Tips are from the Archives of 2006/2007, they are just as notable today as they were back then.

One of the most common questions table tennis players have is what am I doing wrong? We all know David can’t be coaching 100 plus different members as much as he would like too.

So this area will be a polite spot for David to offer a few tips on what he sees happening at the club on a wide member view.

 

coachdave

By David Kent

 

April 2006

What do I see when I watch you play? What can I give you that is useful?

The first thing that I see is a general impression of the level of athleticism.
American players have a bad reputation around the rest of the world of being
lazy or non-athletic — the relative lack of movement. Why is this bad?

Essentially, table tennis rewards good form and consistency. If you don’t move,
and are reaching for shots much of the time, then you have to learn many
DIFFERENT shots, and have to practice many DIFFERENT shots to develop
consistency. It is more efficient to learn only a few different shots and use
your feet to get into position for that shot, for that good form. This way, your
play and practice becomes more concentrated on those few shots. What do I mean
by different shots? Well, if we just look at a forehand-topspin-drive, we can
reach for it a little, or less, or more, or much more — all different body
movements, and all requiring much practice to get good at each one. If we hit
the ball at about the same distance from our body (the same reach) each time,
then we have only one shot to practice — four or five times more efficient in
our learning phase. Presumably we all already know how to use our feet.

Also, the practice of any kind of shot (good form or bad form) will enable you
to become relatively consistent with that shot. But the form that you use may
limit your effectiveness with that shot. So-called proper form (lots of
variations) tends not to limit your effectiveness. With proper form you can
approach international levels of play. With bad form, you can not achieve those
levels. Do you really want to achieve international levels of competence?
Probably not. But improper form will limit your effectiveness, even at the club
level.

Next month I’ll start commenting on specific problems with form.

 

David Kent April 12th 2006

 

may 2006: Is it you?

What is the single most fixable problem I see at the Club? Probably hitting the smash or "kill" shot. This is a shot that should almost never be missed. Think back... how many of these do you miss? And when you miss this, you tend to think that it was just a mistake. But you don't try to figure out how to fix it.

Why is this shot missed so often? Simply because it seems so easy. It seems that you can’t miss, no matter how bad your form, just swing away, but ….  Two common problems. First if you hit with 100% effort, your accuracy or consistency goes way down. Most of us coaches recommend that you never hit a shot with more than about 85% power. This way, you keep your accuracy and consistency at a high level. Even if you don’t win the point on this shot, you get a chance at the next shot, and the next, instead of throwing away the point right now.

Second, a little bit of top-spin helps control the ball to come down on to the table after it clears the net. Even with a “flat” hit, if you hit over the top of the ball, you will get some top-spin.What I often see is you “slapping” down at the ball. This puts back-spin on the ball, and makes the ball go long, often past the end of the table — oops, missed another one. If you keep good form, you will hit over the top of the ball, putting some top spin on the ball and helping control it onto the table. And if you swing sideways at the ball, you put on side-spin which also doesn’t help bring the ball down, still missing long.

If you usually make this shot, keep up the good work. If you frequently miss this shot, there is a reason. Don’t just get mad at yourself over the mistake, try to figure out why the shot was missed, then it is possible to fix it. Remember, this shot should seldom be missed. Keeping “proper” form will help raise your consistency.

David Kent May 8 2006

 

David Kent Club Tip for June 2006

First, a reminder that we will be closed for the month of July. We are
open on Mondays and Fridays (when possible). The reason for this
reminder is to talk about how to improve, and what it takes.

To improve, it is necessary to practice. How often? Once a week will
not lead to fast improvement. Twice a week will help a lot. Three
times a week for amateurs is excellent. But three times a week is
hard. Practicing any bad form will help you improve those shots, but
will ultimately limit your improvement. It is interesting that
“shadow” practice, or even mental practice, is almost as good as
practice at the table. So, to make use of this July “vacation” you can
either take a real vacation and let your inner self or subconscious
integrate what you have already learned (sometimes very useful in
getting past a “plateau”), or stay focused with mirror or shadow
practice, or even mental practice.

So, what is shadow practice? … practicing the basic strokes, or
footwork, without the table or ball, or even without the racquet.
Sometimes in front of a mirror so you can actually see whether you are
practicing the “correct”, or at least acceptable, form. Even for a few
minutes at a time anywhere (in the bus line or …) will help to
develop “muscle memory”.

Suggestions for useful practice — turning the whole body for each
forehand stroke, perhaps the elbow-bending motion for creating topspin
on the forehand stroke (elbow mostly, not shoulder or wrist). Perhaps
footwork drills, alternating forehand and backhand strokes.

So, let’s look at the topspin-forehand-drive. Three components are
important. First, the whole body should be turned to face, or see, the
point of the racquet contacting the ball. This is basically
accomplished by footwork. Turning to about 30 to 60 degrees from the
table enables most of the stroke to move forward even if you swing
across the body. Second, the first 20 to 30 percent of the power of
the shot comes from rotating the whole body into the ball, towards the
table. The remainder of the power comes from the shoulder moving the
hand/arm forward in the same direction. Boosting the power ever
further comes from the acceleration of the whole stroke in the last
foot of the swing before the ball is contacted, but still maintaining
the same form (but more speed) as with a slower stroke. Keeping the
same form for fast and slow shots will greatly improve consistency.
And third, the topspin motion should come almost entirely from flexing
the elbow, starting with the arm more straight and finishing with the
arm more bent (at the elbow). So look at your arm at the end of this
stroke. If your arm is straight, you got very little if any topspin on
the ball. If your elbow is strongly bent, then you had to have put
good topspin on the ball. A good final position at the end of the
stroke might look like a military salute, with the (right/left) hand
above the (right/left) eyebrow.

Watch very strong players and see this in action. Watch weaker players
and try to develop your eye to recognize what they are doing wrong.
This recognition can help you recognize what you are doing wrong as well.

Why topspin? We’ll talk about this later, but basically to help
control the ball to curve down onto the table, even if the ball is hit
very hard. Enough topspin and the ball will curve down onto the
opponent’s side as long as it gets over the net.
Coach’s Corner for September 2006

This month’s topics are the related ideas of “default mode” and passivity.

What do I mean by “default mode”?  Basically, “default mode” is the “choice” we make when we can’t or don’t have time to make a rational decision or choice.  For most amateur table tennis players this tends to be either a defensive choice, or an even further retreat into passivity… just get the ball back … somehow. When this happens, you are totally at the mercy of your opponent. Perhaps this is good enough if your opponent cannot take advantage of the situation anyway… sometimes (frequently enough) you even “win” the point when the opponent messes up in response. Maybe this is why you don’t try to fix the problem. Maybe you even see it as a (dubious) strength (being unpredictable). Going on the defensive can be an OK choice, depending on your opponent, but passivity is almost always a poor choice.

 

So, what to do? In advanced table tennis, the attacking player most frequently wins the point (at least with the modern “sponge” racquets). There are only a few defensive players in the top 50 international players. The attacker (aggressor) controls the point. So the top players have a “default mode” which emphasizes attacking (power, spin, placement), or setting up the attack. The top defensive players have a “default mode” which emphasizes defending (deep chop, lob, block, push), but not passivity. They are always trying to accomplish something, even if it is just trying to keep the rally going for one more exchange. Defending should be active defense, not total passivity. Active defense means reading the opponent’s spin, power, and placement, and then choosing the most appropriate defense. Passivity usually means just getting your paddle in front of the ball with the face tipped upward so the ball will go over the net, but who knows where? … usually a very weak pop-up, just asking for an aggressive return.

 

What do I recommend? Unless you want to be a defensive player (an OK choice), I recommend always looking to be aggressive (but smart, not just blindly attacking everything). If you are ready to attack and find the situation to be not right, there is time to fall back on a defensive or temporizing shot. If you are already set for a defensive shot, there is often not time to switch to an attacking shot after the ball is already on the way. So, I use the short-cut idea of “Think Forward”. Plan to lean forward, move forward, swing forward.

 

The next “default mode” idea I recommend is to plan on putting at least some top-spin on the ball with every shot, unless you have some real purpose in mind for doing something else (drop shot, chop, push, side-spin, flat-hit, etc.). Top-spin helps control the ball down onto the table, substantially improving your consistency.

Have fun!

David W Kent

Club Coach

 

 

Coaches Corner    October  2006
I have been noticing for the past few months that a lot of intermediate and weaker
players seem to be having nearly the same problem. And the stronger players
practically never have this problem. So … the problem looks like this —
The stroke starts (maybe OK) but just before the paddle meets the ball you slap
at the ball, so the first part of the stroke is almost completely disconnected from
the actual hit. This means that the first part of the stroke is doing nothing. You might
as well hold the paddle out in front of you and just slap at the ball anyway.
The appearance is very jerky just before the paddle gets to the ball. Very wasteful
of energy and very hard to achieve any consistency. The stroke should appear
to flow rather smoothly. If you can’t feel this, ask someone to watch for you,
or use a video camera. Sometimes it helps to swing slowly so you have time
to watch yourself.

You should adjust the angle of the paddle surface (compared to the table top,
or floor, or sometimes the incoming path of the ball) correctly to handle the spin
that your opponent put on the ball. This you should do as soon as your opponent
starts to swing at the ball. If you see topspin coming, close the racquet angle
(tip the top forward — how much, you will have to learn with each opponent).
Then keep that angle throughout your smooth-flowing shot.  If you see back-spin
coming, open the racquet angle (tip the top back toward you — again, the angle
will depend on how much back-spin is coming toward you), and make your shot
keeping the angle of the paddle nearly the same throughout the stroke.
This plan helps you learn to make decisions as early as possible, instead of
waiting until the ball is almost to you. And, at least as important, your
“window of opportunity” is pretty large. If you swing a little early, the paddle
angle is OK. If you swing just on time, the paddle angle is OK. And if you swing
a little late, the paddle angle is still OK. This greatly improves your consistency.
And the next idea, to improve your consistency, is to swing forward along
the flight of the ball (unless you are trying to hit heavy backspin-chop, or
heavy topspin-loop). This also gives you a large “window of opportunity”,
since you will be OK whether you swing  on time, or early, or late — again,
greatly improving your consistency.

If you are consistent, improvement comes relatively easily. If your shots are
inconsistent (all over the place), it is very hard to know how to adjust your
strokes. If you are consistently long, this is easy to fix. Either hit softer,
or tilt your paddle more closed, or swing less up. If you are consistently
hitting into the net, either hit harder (if you were hitting too softly), or tilt
your paddle more open, or swing up a little more with your stroke (a little
lift). You don’t have to memorize this, it is simple logic. But you have to think
about it a little. If you can be consistent, your strokes can be analyzed,
and improved.

 

 

 

Coach’s Corner   —   November 2006
“How can I win points, or games, or matches?”, is an obvious question that we all ask at one time or another. And the question is an important one, but the answers are far from simple, and involve elements of both strategy and tactics.
First, if we are far stronger than our opponent (partner), then we can do just about anything and still win. This is obvious, but how do we want to win? Are we teaching or are we competing? If we are just passing time then we do not expect to learn anything or teach anything. But there are aspects of our game that we can practice against weaker players. You should be learning, or practicing, how to control a point, how to control the play of the point. This is hard to learn while playing stronger players, because against them you cannot control the point, they will. Against the weaker player you can also try out and improve new skills that might otherwise be too risky, such as tricky or deceptive serves.
And, if we are weaker than our opponent, we will frequently be on the defensive, scrambling to stay in the point. So, what can we learn here, besides practicing our defensive skills? Certainly we can see how our opponent finds and takes advantage of our weaknesses. What does he do that you can learn to do to others with the same weaknesses? What works well for him, and how can you learn to do the same? And you can see certain shots or strokes in action — something for you to strive for. What can you learn to use against others? And obviously, what weakness do you have that you need to improve.
Finally, if we are nearly the same strength as our opponent, we can be learning to win points by finding and using our opponent’s weaknesses, and minimizing our own weaknesses. If you like to hit, don’t start a pushing duel, unless you are better at that than your opponent is. The important point is to be aware of yours and your opponent’s styles of play.
And then we have to decide whether to rely on tricks or to rely on fundamentals. If your game is built around tricks, when your opponent learns how to handle your tricks, then he will seem to get stronger very quickly against you. If your game is built around fundamentals and consistency, then your game will nearly always be solid. The very strong players always seem to be able to rely on their fundamentals, their basic strong shots. Tricks are OK, but probably more useful in the long run after your fundamentals are reliable.
Have fun, and remember to always be aware of what you can learn from each opponent, each match.
David Kent  —  club coach

 

 

 

Coach’s Corner,  April 2007

Continuing our discussion (my talk) about the loop and loop-drive, we need some practical guidelines. It is very important to realize that the loop is just another tool in our arsenal. Sometimes the loop will win points outright, especially against unprepared opponents, but we cannot count on that. A good rule-of-thumb, as always, is to expect your opponent to return your shot — always. This way you will be preparing for your next shot (strategically and/or tactically), and will never be surprised to see the ball returning.

Since the loop requires a great deal of effort, you will have to commit yourself to a high level of athleticism. Most of the energy of the shot is going into generating spin rather than speed, so to get any power/speed you need to work harder with this style, getting into position and generating very high racquet-speed. If you watch a good looper you will see that the energy comes from the feet, ankles, knees, back/upper-body, shoulders, elbow, and wrist — quite a workout. All of the motions are additive (discounting Einstein’s special relativity calculations), so if you are neglecting some of these parts the sum total ends up smaller/weaker than you need for this stroke. Also important to, usually, be transferring your weight forward during the stroke to help generate more ball speed. This also helps us to not completely miss the ball with this stroke, which is mostly across the flight of the ball, since this makes a little more of our stroke go forward along the flight of the ball. So, racquet speed is the name of the game. Older style loops relied on a pretty long backswing, starting with the racquet head down somewhere near the ankle, but the more modern loop has a much shorter backswing since the game is now even faster and defenders can usually handle this stroke, so we need to be able to quickly get back to our “ready position” for the next shot.

Defending the loop from close to the table pretty much depends on the block shot with a closed (tilted forward) racquet and with little added power, since the looper supplies the defender with all the power s/he need. Back from the table many different defenses are possible, but from close to the table it is very difficult to get consistency with any other shot than the block. Since this return is so quick, the looper has only a little time to prepare for his next loop.

The forehand loop requires effort from lots of parts of the body, but the elbow motion is crucial. You start with a relatively straight elbow, and finish with a relatively bent elbow. This generates maximally efficient and consistent topspin with all the forehand shots, including the loop.

So… to learn this shot requires lots of practice and feedback to correct parts of the stroke. Without a coach, or other reliable source of feedback, you need to judge your own stroke. Did it generate a lot of topspin?… watch the flight of the ball and its bounce or continued forward motion, even if it goes into the net or onto the floor and see if it is still spinning. Did most of your motion go into generating spin instead of speed?… listen to the sound of  ball contact with the rubber, with a loud “thock” sound implying a too solid hit, and a “whoosh” sound indicating only a grazing hit (what we want). With a good loop, as long as the ball goes over the net it will tend to dive down onto the opponent’s side of the table, and then kick deep.

When learning this shot, it helps to try to hit the loop as often as possible to learn the feel of it, but during a game or match this may not be the best shot selection for every situation. A high return may be better handled with a “kill” shot or top-spin drive, or perhaps a placement shot, or even a drop shot, instead of a loop.

So the standard joke about a “looper” not having to be too smart, just “see ball, hit loop”, refers to the fact that a loop will overpower whatever spin your opponent puts on the ball so you don’t have to read the opponent’s spin too carefully. You do have to differentiate between a loop against top-spin and a loop against chop (back-spin), since you need to generate more lift against the chop, while the top-spin from your opponent gives you the lift for free.

The backhand loop seems to be harder to learn and does require a lot of wrist motion from the shake-hands grip player, but the ideas are all the same.

Try it out, get feedback, and have fun.

David Kent

Club Coach

 

 

Coach’s Corner    March 2007

The modern sponge-oriented game of table tennis is mostly oriented around the “loop”. “What is it? How do I do it? How do I defend against it? How do I set up for it?” These questions are all at the center of the modern game.

What is a loop? … basically a shot that emphasizes very heavy top-spin over almost everything else, including speed or power. The original loop shot was developed as an antidote to the successes of the defensive players, and depends on relatively modern sponge-backed inverted-pips rubbers. Since spin is foremost, we need a large surface area contact between the ball and the racquet surface so that the ball can be grabbed by the rubber — pretty much impossible with a hard-bat racquet. With sponge, the ball can sink into the racquet face, cupped by the rubber surface. Modern rubbers are also pretty grabby or even sticky. Then, the swing has to be across the path of the ball to generate the spin. Historically, the loop was what we now call a slow-loop, very spiny and relatively slow speed, arcing pretty high over the net like a rainbow’s arc or “loop”. With the heavy top-spin, the ball dives down into the table and kicks very low and deep/fast off the bounce, still with LOTS of spin. This presented new problems for the defenders, and now the attacking style is dominant in modern table tennis.

The slow loop used to be the only loop weapon, and it is still important against a chop style of defense. The slow loop has little forward momentum, but LOTS of spin. Against a chop/backspin defensive shot, the “looper” has to generate some lift on the ball in order to overcome the backspin and clear the net, so the swing is pretty vertical in reference to the floor or table surface, which results in dragging the ball upward. The next very important point is that the racquet face has to be VERY “closed” (tilted top forward) compared to the path of the approaching ball. This results in barely brushing the front of the incoming ball, generating spin without much forward speed.

But there are other, newer, loop strokes. The loop-drive is the modern choice against an incoming top-spin shot. Since your opponent is giving you the “lift” with his top-spin, your stroke can be much more forward and powerful. This is really a cross between an old loop and a topspin drive. Since there are very few chop-style defenders at the international level, the loop-drive has become the predominant type of loop. The next type of loop is the sidespin loop. This, obviously, replaces some of the topspin with varying amounts of side spin.

All of the loops have you swinging across the flight of the ball with a very closed racquet face. This means that, if you are doing it right, you will sometimes completely miss the ball with your stroke, or even hit the ball with the leading edge of the paddle. While you are learning, if you don’t make both of these mistakes frequently, you aren’t doing it right. The most common error is to not have the racquet face closed (top tipped forward) enough. This error means you “hit” the ball instead of just brushing it or grazing it with your paddle. This may be better noticed by listening to the sound of the hit. If loud, you have hit it firmly (not a loop). If soft, you just grazed the ball (great).  Most otherwise pretty strong attacking players have a hard time learning this shot because their body won’t let them come so close to totally missing the ball — it feels wrong. But it does work, although it initially feels impossible. The modern rubbers are what make it even possible. And a very fast racquet speed is indispensable, since most of the swing energy is used to generate spin, not speed.

It seems easier to learn your first loop against a topspin or flat hit shot, but if you learn the feel of the shot against chop (a slow loop), you will really better understand the feel of a real loop.

There is a lot more to the loop, but you do have to learn by doing. More next month….

David Kent

Club Coach

 

Coach’s Corner,  February
The most recent questions have been about equipment, especially paddles. So we’ll cover some basic information.
First, lets talk about balls. Balls come in 1-star (*), 2-star (**), 3-star (***), and 3-star-Premium (Nittaku). All of these typically meet the ITTF Standards, but the higher number of stars indicates better quality control, so the company charges more for them. In other words, some 1-star balls are as good as the 3-star balls, but only some. And the 3-star Premium balls have the best quality control – the stronger players seem to prefer these. Pretty good players won’t notice much difference from the 3-star balls, as they all meet the basic requirement of bounce height and weight range, while perhaps differing in perfection of roundness, or durability.
Next, lets cover paddles, and then rubber. A common misconception is that a thicker paddle is better — not necessarily true. Thickness will naturally have an effect on weight and stiffness, but the materials used (woods, etc.) and manufacturing process are much more important. The important characteristics are weight, liveliness, stiffness, size of “sweet-spot”, and size and shape of the face. Weight is an individual factor in that you’ll find a weight or weight range that feels good for your physique and playing style. A heavier paddle is like a heavier baseball-bat, in American baseball. A paddle’s liveliness is indicated by “Offensive” (fast, or “Off+”, “Off”, and “Off-“, meaning more to less fast), “All-Around” (medium fast, or “AR+”, “AR”, and “AR-“, meaning faster to slower), and “Defensive” (slow, or “Def+”, “Def”, and “Def-“, meaning slow to slower). The faster, livelier, paddles enable speedier shots, but also less control. Many international level players use medium fast paddles, because consistency is more important to them than raw power.  Stiffness has an effect on how long the ball stays in contact with the rubber, and thereby the “feel” of the shot. Stiffness also has an effect on the size of the “sweet-spot”, that area of the face that is the liveliest. A “sweet-spot” extending nearly to the edge of the paddle will give you more consistency. A larger hitting surface (size and/or geometry of the face) will mean fewer miss-hits, but slower racquet speed (due to increased wind resistance), so most attacking players are happy with normal sized racquet faces, while defensive players may tend toward the larger faces of the defensive-speed racquets.
Finally, let’s look at the rubbers. Thickness (of the sponge layer) is given in millimeters. The over-all thickness of the rubber cannot exceed 4 mm, including the sponge and the pimpled-rubber covering (which can be smooth side out, or pimpled side out). Thickness and firmness of the sponge layer determines the surface area contact with the ball during your hit. The more the ball sinks in, the greater the area of contact, therefore more grip or friction on the ball, enabling more spin on the ball. Obviously, no sponge (or hard-bat) will give minimal grip, while thicker sponge will give more grip. Smooth surface enables the most grip, while pimples-out gives less. Also, the type of rubber surface (degree of “stickiness”) will affect the friction between the ball and the racquet. So rubbers are described by their “speed” (or bounce), and “spin”. The modern rubber/sponge combinations can give these qualities independently. More speed coupled with more spin generally gives you less control. So, again, most international-level players highly value control and consistency, so, many avoid the fastest/spiniest rubbers.
Many developing players think fast and spiny means better. A faster and spinier rubber will tend to make your good shots better, but will definitely make your bad shots worse. Most developing players lose many more points by bad shots (bad form, or bad shot-selection) than by lack of power or spin. Faster improvement will happen with improved strokes, not with “monster” racquets.
However, inferior racquets can hold you back due to inability to generate either spin or power. Many very cheap recreational paddles are quickly outgrown as your skills develop, but the other extreme can hold you back as well. I generally suggest trying out new rubber/sponge/paddle combinations before purchasing, if you can. I generally have a wide range of loaner paddles available for use at the club for you to try out. A “coach”, after observing your game, can recommend specific paddle/rubber combinations for you dependent on your playing level. Without a personal coach, I would tend to recommend an all-round plus, or offensive minus, paddle coupled with medium fast (around 90 out of a hundred) and medium spiny (around 90 out of a hundred) rubber, with from 1.5mm to 2.0mm sponge, as a good starting point. More specific recommendations would depend on your style and skill level.
David Kent — Club Coach

 

 

Coach’s Corner for January 2007
“How to serve?” and “how to return serves?” are very common questions, or at least problems.
Writing out the complete rules for a legal serve is not as useful as showing you how to do it. The ideas involved in useful serves include both tactics and strategy. You have to ask yourself what is the goal of this serve (during a particular match).
If you are a very strong player playing against another very strong player, your goal is to not give your opponent a serve that is easily attacked… so a very short and  low serve (that will bounce twice on the opponent’s end) with backspin or no-spin usually is hard to attack, since the table itself is in the way of an aggressive swing. The idea is to get the point flowing in a way that fits your style of play. You should plan ahead. The mental question is “what do I expect to get back from my chosen serve?” If you are an intermediate player that likes to hit drives and counter-drives, then it is useful to serve deep and fast, expecting a deep and fast return which is ideal for counter-hitting.
If you are a little bit better than a beginner, then you have to focus on not hitting terrible serves. The common beginners’ problem is making the ball bounce too high on the serve (and throughout the point as well). If you hit the serve when the ball is still high above the table, you have to hit down to make a legal serve, and then the ball will bounce high over the net, leaving your opponent with an easy set-up (although s/he may mess it up anyway). The fix for this is when you throw the ball up for the serve you have to wait for the ball to drop to only an inch or two higher than the table surface before you hit it.
And “how to return serves?”, involves the same ideas. You want the point to develop in a way that fits your style or strengths. If you are bad at handling short push shots, then don’t “push” (short underspin or back-spin) yourself, because your opponent will frequently return a push with a push, and so on. Try to take advantage of your opponent’s weaknesses, and try to utilize your strengths. If your opponent uses tricky spins, it is most effective to angle the face of your paddle to counteract that spin. This means tipping the paddle forward against top-spin, and tipping the paddle back against back-spin. Handling side-spin seems harder to do, but it is no more difficult than handling back-spin. Again tip the face of the paddle to one side or the other depending on which kind of side-spin you are responding to. A simple idea is to aim sideways in the direction that the server’s paddle started from. Try it. If this still doesn’t make sense to you, ask me to help with some practice. Remember, don’t try to handle side-spin by swinging the paddle sideways (although this will work if you are able to judge it perfectly). Instead learn to handle your opponent’s spins by angling the paddle in the appropriate direction. This will greatly improve your consistency.
Watch and learn from lots of different players’ serves. This is one facet of the game where you can profitably get quite creative. And it is always useful to have and use a number of different serves to keep your opponent guessing.
Have fun.            —     David Kent, club coach