Adam Bobrow, a commentator for the International Table Tennis Federation, loves snakes. Here are some of his favorite snakes. They tend to startle people:
Basically, Bobrow’s messing with the opponent’s expectations by hitting the ball and adding a dummy follow-through. When he ducks low to retrieve the ball, the table is obscuring the opponent’s view. Bobrow is swinging one way to put a certain direction of spin on the ball, but the opponent can’t see that. All they see is him dramatically flailing his arm in the opposite direction right after, which makes them anticipate the wrong direction of spin, which leaves them shit out of luck once the ball bounces and springs either a) several feet away from them or b) right into their own face, depending on which way he feinted.
Here’s Bobrow back in 2016 explaining how this works, admitting that it’s a nice way to steal a cheap point from a defensive situation:
It’s not purely a rec room gimmick, either. Here’s former world No. 1 Ma Long hitting a successful snake shot against Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the middle of a professional match at the 2016 Qatar Open:
Cool stuff! Now try this at home and see if you can make your foe look even dumber than you inevitably will.
H/t to John