Articles, Blog

Table Tennis Serve Tutorial: Ma Lin “Ghost” Serve

August 29, 2019

Welcome back to the channel of coach EmRatThich. Today I will show you
3 key points to do the “ghost serve” like Ma Lin. This serve is the most amazing
“trick serve” in table tennis. I also show you the best way to return this
tricky serve. WHAT IS “GHOST SERVE” ? “Ghost serve” is considered as a “tricky serve”,
with heavy underspin. This serve is
the trademark of Ma Lin. There are 2 types of serve in table tennis:
tricky ace serve and set-up serve. Chinese players focus more on set-up serve
because at the high level, you can’t win the game by just using
ace serve. “Ghost serve” is the trademark serve of Ma
Lin because he has the greatest touch in the China National Team. Penholder has also the advantages over
a shakehand player because of more freedom in the wrist movement. The
way that penholder holds his racket allows him to freely use the wrist. With Liu Guoliang, Ma Lin is the best server
in China Team. He used a lot of
fake motion after the serve, that’s why his serve is so tricky. So when people talk about Ma Lin, they think
of his serve. If we talk about Wang Hao, we think of his
beautiful reverse backhand. For Zhang Jike, it’s his solid physical strength
and the “explosiveness”. For Ma Long, it’s his super consistent and
powerful forehand. So every player has his own specialty. It’s because of their “micro-adjustment”. If you don’t know what “micro-adjustment”
is, look above for my explication. Practicing “Ghost serve” is the best way to
improve your feeling, and learn how to impact the spin into your serve. This serve is not very effective in the real
match. For your match, focus on “set-up” serve. Add sidespin to control the placement. Watch my video “How to serve short with sidespin”
for the reason behind. Since then, Ma Lin just won few points with
his “Ghost serve”. The most famous
one is this point with Zhang Jike. Now, I will give you 3 tips to do this “ghost
serve”. Using these 3 tips, you will know how
and when to accelerate the ball. First, to do this “ghost serve” effectively,
or another serves in general, you should hold your racket loosely. Look how Joao Monteiro holds his racket. Put your thumb higher
on the rubber, hold at the side of the blade and vertical (like the penhold). Holding the racket like this will increase
the freedom of the wrist. This is crucial because you want to accelerate
and spin the ball with your wrist. Second point. This point is very important. Put your elbow close to your body. To serve
effectively, you need a quick acceleration, and short movement (explosiveness). Unlike
another stroke (like forehand loop) which require a long and full movement, a good serve requires a short but quick movement. So you don’t need to use forearm
here. Put the elbow close to body to stabilize the
shot. Amateur players don’t know this
important point, so they can’t accelerate into the ball correctly. Where to contact the ball? The contact point is very close to your body. The closer you
contact the ball, the easier you control it. New players tend to contact the ball too far
from the body, and then there is not enough spin in their serve. The two rotation axis are: first your body. You must rotate your body to add spin, and
power to the ball. Rotation from the body also controls the trajectory
of the serve. If you want your serve short, rotate your
body a little. If you want your serve longer, rotate more. If you want to serve to the right side of
the opponent, rotate your body a semi-circle. If you want to send the ball to the left side,
rotate a full circle. Please
remember: Don’t use the forearm. Fix the elbow and the forearm. It’s your body rotation that controls the
length and the direction of your serve. This is
the keypoint of a good server. Because with a little change (rotate more
or less), you can suddenly change the direction of your
serve. Surprise factor, and quality factor. Body rotation is the first rotation axis. The second is your wrist. Wrist is where you
accelerate and make the ball spin. Wrist movement is very fast. Without wrist, you can’t
make a spinny serve. Again, don’t snap with your forarm around
the elbow but use your wrist. “Explosiveness” all comes from the wrist and
the body rotation. We don’t
need your forarm and elbow in your serve. And my 3rd tip is: To make this serve tricky,
add “fake motion”. That means after you
contact the serve, move your hand up like you are making a topspin serve. Ma Lin always add fake motion after the contact
point. You should also do a “psychology” game. Before doing this “ghost serve”, serve some
topspin serves with a clear “up motion”. And then at the crucial points (9-9) or (9-7),
use this tricky serve with the same “up motion”. This way, you can easily trick your opponent. How to return “GHOST SERVE” ? “Ghost serve” is a pure underspin serve. This serve is also slow. So a simple “drop shot”
can easily return this serve short. That’s why, you should learn how to add “sidespin”
to your serve, which will make your serve more
dangerous. I’ve shown you 3 tips to do this serve: Hold
your racket loosely, Put the elbow close your body, rotate your body, accelerate with your
wrist, and add fake “motion” after the contact point. Now, you can see Ma Lin’s serve in slow motion. Now you can see that everybody can do this
serve. The key point is knowing how to
accelerate with your wrist. And this is the “XXL version” of Ma Lin ghost
serve. 😀 Look he has the same “national coach” as Ma
Lin. I really prefer this “XXL” version than the
“original” version. That’s it for today. Hope enjoy this tutorial. See you, EmRatThich. SPECIAL THANKS TO (SHARING AMAZING FOOTAGES)
ldb579932 & ttTricks


  • Reply CB July 21, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    love ur videos

  • Reply EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach July 21, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Sorry, I'm sick right now. That's why I've voiced over with the "nose-sound". Sorry for that. Just want to deliver a good video on the weekend. Special thanks to TTTricks and ldb579932 for their amazing footages.

  • Reply Rapid Spectre July 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    hey emratich for this type of a serve u need a very gripy rubber tight???

  • Reply Dieter Verhofstadt July 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Haha, how you keep this videos both funny and loaded with useful information. Wonderful!

  • Reply CORPSE REANIMATED July 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    xxl version>ma lin version.

  • Reply linda kim July 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    sicology? no saicology is correct pronounciation

  • Reply Anton Praja July 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Hi coach, for more spin on serve, you suggest tacky and hard rubber, one question for DHS rubber like hurricane or neo, is it need to apply booster on ?

  • Reply Æsir July 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    LOL 9:09 (๏д๏) WTF 9:23 ✧*。٩(ˊᗜˋ*)و✧*。

  • Reply Dawid Garboliński July 21, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    i dont think this serve is useless in a match. i think this serve is core. mostly used to prevent opponent from flicking. even ma long uses it, short along the line to the opponent's fh.

  • Reply shubhang mittal July 21, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Haha, making your videos funny makes them more interesting and fun to watch. By the way, xxl version was great 😂
    keep making such videos, coach

  • Reply mateuszq July 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    gj coach

  • Reply Jonathan RC July 21, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Lin gain some weight at the end lol

  • Reply TheOneWhoKnows Nothing July 21, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Hahahahaha xxl ghost serve

  • Reply waterboyd July 21, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    xxl lol

  • Reply Joël Martin July 21, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    lmao xxl version of ma lin

  • Reply Airport Operations Specialist July 22, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Coach, what is the end credits theme song that you play every video, please? I love it!

  • Reply Sentea Keimah July 22, 2017 at 3:20 am

    i love the xxl version😁

  • Reply shreyas chandar July 22, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Thank you coach! Please make a video on sidespin service and how to do service practice

  • Reply Kinshuk Joshi July 22, 2017 at 4:15 am

    Emratthich explination is an incorrect word. The correct one is explanation. Spell as x-pla-nation.
    Video is awesome and amazing. Loved every bit of it.

  • Reply Jonathan Yung July 22, 2017 at 4:49 am

    jun mizutani's ghost serve is more compact, putting it in a short toss.

  • Reply You Tube July 22, 2017 at 5:07 am

    why is he shirtless 😂

  • Reply aaa aaa July 22, 2017 at 8:05 am

    In the demonstrations, when they serve their shoulders hide the contact. Their serves are great, but they are (slightly) illegal IMO.

    Nice video; lots of good information.

  • Reply nuri demir July 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

    we want more match analysis video coach emratthic we love you thanks a lot for everything ( like this video : Table Tennis: Amazing 10 years old kid in China   )

  • Reply Tareq Shahriar July 22, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Tip 4 (that u missed): take off your shirt before practicing underspin serve

  • Reply michaelangelu July 23, 2017 at 4:47 am

    The rotation explanation confuses me, they both look like same amount of rotation, neither semi or full circle. Can you explain again or do another vidfeo?

  • Reply Ege Candan July 23, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    xxl version 😀 <3

  • Reply Joe July 23, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    So even when doing other serves like side underspin or side topspin, we should still keep our elbow fixed and stop using forearm?Only wrist and body rotation on all serves?

  • Reply Leeman Harrington July 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Super helpful!

  • Reply efr89 July 24, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    LEL, the XXL version hits the ball so well it hardly passes 10cm on the other side and then returns to back to his own side. Thats amazing!

  • Reply Woods V July 24, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    The XXL version is better than the original ma Lin version!

  • Reply Kevin Ng July 26, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    The XXL version of Ma Lin! xD

  • Reply Furthy Thirtyfour August 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

    You did not explain the bat angle when you contact the ball and would also like to see the contact point in slow motion please.

  • Reply Eric August 14, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I believe pen holder has severe disadvantage for playing backhand shots. I have seen Ma Lin always defending while playing backhand shots.

  • Reply Lightzy August 26, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    To return this (short) serve most easily just hold your racket out like a plate, completely horizontal close to the net and let the ball drop on it.
    Without any effort from you, the backspin on the ball will carry it so the other side of the net, very close to the net and difficult to answer.

  • Reply Donke August 28, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Where are you from?

  • Reply TECHNICAL KNIGHT August 30, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Upload a video based on how to keep eyes on ball

  • Reply John Carlo Ruiz September 14, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Why am I watching this at midnight. I don't even play table tennis.

  • Reply Hai September 18, 2017 at 3:17 am

    Hi coach ERT. My coach always uses a variety of trick serve – sometimes side spin, sometimes under spin and sometimes topspin. How did he serve top spin but his hand position is like serve under spin.. He won't tell me, he ask me to figure it out myself.. Can u help me? ^^

  • Reply TryToDoRight September 19, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Someone please tell me what the noise is Everytime someone serves? Is it a foot stomping, or the paddle hitting the table?

  • Reply JAYDEV ASHRA September 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Is it necessary to keep the T-shirt off, while practicing this serve…???!!!☺☺☺

  • Reply Angry Incubus October 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    with ur wist

  • Reply Jacky Zheng October 22, 2017 at 2:25 am

    7:00 ????!!!!!?!?!!?

  • Reply TzUp October 28, 2017 at 5:16 am

    1080p my ass

  • Reply IVAN ŠANTEK October 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm


  • Reply EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach November 4, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Read more at:

  • Reply Last Comment November 8, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    for those who never had a pro racket before , the rubber these guys use is so sticky that you can lift it up with your palm , that is why they can spin the ball that much

  • Reply Arek Wydmuch November 18, 2017 at 9:52 pm


  • Reply YunSheng Huang November 19, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    It really helps, thx for sharing!

  • Reply Syahrul Gufran November 21, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Thanks for the video…. i really like the XXL version of Ma Lin….

  • Reply devsingh gariya December 1, 2017 at 2:37 am


  • Reply Gemein Hardd December 11, 2017 at 12:33 am

    how about what is SPEAK ENGLISH

  • Reply Death3003 December 16, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    Wow i was messing around when doing table tennis with friends and i actually started serving like that without knowing it is a real move

  • Reply Moon Bilguun December 27, 2017 at 8:05 am

    i like XXL Ma Lin more

  • Reply ralexlu December 28, 2017 at 3:23 am

    The end of this video had me crying!😂😂😂

  • Reply Elmo Blatch December 28, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    I am high on meth, cocaine, heroine, oxycontin, LSD, and marijuana, and this is still not entertaining.

  • Reply Ashish Kalra January 7, 2018 at 10:12 am


  • Reply Lightzy January 9, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Question: Why is Ma Lin's serve so fast, while everyone else who do it do it so slow?
    His serve looks like a very fast serve but still the ball shoots back, also fast.
    How to do it like that?

  • Reply Yiu Tun February 3, 2018 at 1:25 am

    duuummmaa so strooonngg

  • Reply Loumy AsItcomes February 28, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Thanks for the video…well explained

  • Reply Dipti Jain February 28, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Do we have to do the same in all serves to add more spin

  • Reply АГЕНТ ВАНОМАСА March 16, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    все понятно

  • Reply Fredtality March 19, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Unlike many of your other videos, this tutorial isn't that good. There are no technical aspects as to how to perform it, which is the main part, as without learning the technical steps, it is simply impossible to learn this serve (or any other difficult serve for that matter). I've finally learned this serve and here are my technical key points one must use when performing this serve:

    1. The start of your serve: Your toss is very important and should land slightly behind the center of your body, enabling you to create more spin (because of the momentum and follow through of your bat and body).
    2. During the serve: Your bat angle must go from horizontal to a backward lean, i.e. imagine a curve sloping upwards – that is your racquet movement.
    3. After the serve: Your follow through with your racquet is crucial for a good spin. Use your wrist AND forearm after impact and try to almost hit your stomach with your bat.

    If done correctly and smoothly (key word is smoothly, you really do not have to force the ball when attempting spinny serves), add a bit of lean angle to really make this serve difficult to return.

    Hope this helped 🙂

  • Reply Mac Miller March 29, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Why do you stomp your foot after every contact on serve?

  • Reply Rain Sky March 30, 2018 at 11:46 am

    What The F*
    1 min long advertisement before watching actual video – no option to skip after few second!!!

  • Reply Igor Nemo April 4, 2018 at 3:46 am

    Dear ERT
    Please let me Link to original video with the Jumbo guy training.

    Thanks to you a lot.

  • Reply Alligator Uno May 3, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    That XXL version tho 😂

  • Reply Table Tennis Central May 7, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Nice! ive recently made a video showcasing the Dictator Ma Long. Would really appreciate it, if you check it out!

  • Reply Chandrabali Mazumdar May 8, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Legend has it Joao is still serving on that table.

  • Reply Francis Raval May 14, 2018 at 3:02 am

    the XXL version is definitely better! haha

  • Reply Bayu Bajra June 5, 2018 at 9:50 am


  • Reply Alejo Gonzalez June 12, 2018 at 12:32 am

    Hey coach, that guy doing the Demos… is hidding the ball… that's like an illegal serve…

  • Reply 박승호 June 15, 2018 at 5:22 am

    thanks for the lesson

  • Reply fanttasmon August 7, 2018 at 12:03 am

    gracias bro lo practicare 😉 saludos desde colombia

  • Reply Tsel project October 19, 2018 at 10:53 am

    9:23…. damnnnn 🙂

  • Reply Tarihi geçmiş bayram çikolatası November 14, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    it was a kind of like xxxxl version

  • Reply C Vremes November 28, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    there's 5 levels of table tennis: Easy Medium Hard Hell China

  • Reply Sunita Niure December 4, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Serves plz next vedio very easy returnibg serves

  • Reply Руслан Гурьев December 25, 2018 at 7:24 am


  • Reply Nefilim January 18, 2019 at 5:25 am

    Thank you for your videos. Tips inside are amazing.
    I made my serve more spinny, but I must train wrist for good acceleration. thx again.
    – Can I ask you a question about training legs and FH topspin?
    When I play FH topspin I often make angle in my elbow, I think main reason is the slow legs, or wrong steps, can you provide some tips how to train legs and topspin technique solo(right now it try to play 95% with FH I get this tip from one of your video), because I have not much time for training with advanced players. But I have access to table to train solo.
    Thank you very much again.

  • Reply Mario H January 24, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    The XXL version coach's thoughts: "I'm not getting paid enough for this shit"

  • Reply Tomboiii February 24, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Been playing table tennis for 3 years now. Still don't have a racket. Wtf

  • Reply saikesava satyam April 3, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Excellent, keep seeing it

  • Reply Tinh Teo May 10, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    xin chào, bạn có thể thêm sub bằng tiếng Việt được không ? cho người nước mình xem với chứ.

  • Reply suffolk6311 May 18, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    lol. For some reason only the fat guy shows you how to do it because he's in super slow motion.

  • Reply Mr. Y May 30, 2019 at 3:50 am

    You called it ghost serve.
    I called it a devil serve.

  • Reply Michael Sta. Maria June 9, 2019 at 3:31 am

    XXL version is GREAT!!!

  • Reply Mohd Azizee Sukor July 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    xxl version lol

  • Reply Captain Flirt July 5, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Ohh XXL version ❤❤❤😂

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