How to Spin a Ping Pong Ball

If you are an aspiring ping pong player, learning to confuse your opponent with trick shots can help you take the step from beginner to advanced player. Understanding and mastering the intricacies of spin shots is one way to achieve your goal. However, be prepared to spend hours upon hours practicing the different spin techniques. Like all sports, dedication and practice are essential ingredients for ultimate success.

What is a spin shot in ping pong?

Spin shots are those struck in one of the various ways to cause the ping pong ball to spin as it travels to the opponent’s side of the table. The goal is to let the ball behave unexpectedly, making it impossible or difficult for the opponent to hit a return shot. Hitting spin shots is how advanced ping pong players overextend, confuse and dominate their opponents.

How do you spin a ping pong ball?

Instead of striking the ping pong ball, the player brushes it with the racket and making it spin. Various aspects of how the ball is brushed determine the axis around which the ball spins, the speed, direction and behavior upon landing on the table. The player could even plan how the ball will react when it touches the opponent’s paddle. There are three basic spin techniques, topspin, backspin and sidespin. Once you’ve mastered those, you can move on to more tricky variants of them.

How to execute a topspin

You can considerably improve your attack once you master the topspin. Perfectly executed, the topspin produces considerable power. However, it will not soar off the table as expected. Instead, the ping pong ball will follow a downward curve to your opponent. If your opponent fails to read the spin, an incorrect counter hit will send the ball flying off the table, adding a point to your score.

How to execute a backspin

Some players call this a slice. Regardless of whether you use a backspin or a slice to trick your opponent, you will learn to use it as a defensive spinshot. Ideal circumstances for using it are when you have to scramble not to miss a fast shot. Using the backspin then will also allow you to be prepared for the subsequent return. If your opponent makes a mistake returning it, the ball will not likely clear the net, and that right there will add another point to your score. This technique puts a lot of spin on the ball, and be prepared to see many of your practice balls fly off in unanticipated directions. Don’t give up; practice makes perfect.

How to execute the sidespin

This one is a dual-purpose spin shot, valuable for attack or defense. You can use it to cause spin from left to right, or vice versa, simultaneously making a significant curve but remaining low. You can use different techniques with the amount of spin, the angle of your bat when you brushed the ball and the speed you got out of it, all of which play roles in the outcome.

Backhand variants and cork spins

These are some of the difficult versions, best to attempt after mastering the three basic spin techniques. For example, even the most advanced players use the cork spin when they serve because it is too challenging to execute in the heat of a fast-paced game.

A final but crucial note

Do not lose sight of the importance of learning to read the spin shots coming your way!

You can watch some fantastic spin shots on this video.

Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.