Table Tennis Rules and Regulations (2023)

A post entitled Table Tennis Rules and Regulations might sound boring, but it isn’t! At least, I hope it won’t be.

In this post, I will clearly explain the most important rules of table tennis and in doing so, put an end to the countless arguments occur each day across the globe.

If you are a casual player or a beginner, this post will attempt to expose any and all of the mythical, made-up table tennis rules that crop up on tables the world over. I will also provide a brief bullet point summary of the basic rules of table tennis.

If you’re an experienced player I hope that you’ll find this article useful as well. I recently attempted an umpiring exam paper and despite having been playing table tennis for over 10 years… I failed. There are a few odd and hard to understand rules and regulations in table tennis and I’ll be highlighted them and asking for your opinion.

So let’s begin…

Table Tennis Rules: Myth-busters

During the time I’ve been playing and coaching table tennis, I think I’ve heard every made-up rule there is! Here are a few you might hear and why they are nonsense.

(Video) Basic Rules of Table Tennis | PingSkills

“Don’t you have to serve diagonally in table tennis?”

  • Nope! In tennis, squash and badminton you must serve diagonally but in table tennis singles you can serve wherever you like. Yes, that includes off the sides of the table, if you can get enough sidespin. In table tennis doubles, you do have to serve diagonally and always from your right-hand half to your opponents right-hand half.

“The ball hit you, so that’s my point!”

  • A common one with the kids in school. Sorry, but if you’ve whacked the ball at me and it didn’t hit the table, then that’s a miss. We’re not playingdodge ball!

“I thought you were meant to play up to 21? I don’t like playing to 11.”

  • In this case, many of the older players would probably agree with you but the ITTF changed the scoring system from 21-points to 11-points back in 2001. If you play competitively the game will be up to 11, so you might as well get used to it!

“You can’t hit it around the net!”

  • Actually, you can. And it can be a pretty hard shot to get back. If you put a ball out really wide, your opponent is well within the rules to return it around the net. This even means that in some cases the ball can just roll on your side of the table and not even bounce! It’s very rare but it does happen. There are numerous videos on YouTube.

“The ball has to cross the net four times before you start ‘play for serve'”

  • I hear arguments about this a lot. ‘Play for serve’ is made-up. In a competitive game, the server is usually decided by a coin toss or picking which hand you think the ball is in. If you really want to ‘play for serve’, then just agree before you start at which point you are allowed to start attacking the rally. However, it’s probably easier just to put the ball under the table and guess which hand it’s in!

Basic Table Tennis Rules

I’ve summarised the official (and very long) rules of the ITTF in these basic table tennis rules. These should be all you need to start playing a game.

(Video) The Rules of Table Tennis (Ping Pong) - EXPLAINED!

Service Rules

  1. The service must start with the ball in an open palm.This stops you from throwing it up with spin.
  2. The ball must be thrown vertically, at least 16 cm.This stops you from serving straight out of your hand and surprising your opponent.
  3. The ball must be above and behind the table throughout the serve.This stops you getting any silly angles and gives your opponent a fair chance at returning.
  4. After throwing the ball, the server must get their free arm and hand out of the way.This is to allow the receiver to see the ball.

The following video, taken from Table Tennis University’s Service Mastery training course, is another great summary of the basic table tennis service rules…

Doubles Rules

  1. The service must go diagonally, from the server’s right-hand side to the receivers right-hand side.This stops you from getting the opposing pair tangled up before they’ve even hit a ball.
  2. A doubles pair must strike the ball alternately.This makes doubles challenging. None of that front court/back court tennis nonsense.
  3. At the change of service, the previous receiver becomes the new server and the partner of the previous server becomes the receiver.This makes sure everybody does everything. After eight points you’re back to the start of the cycle.

Generalmatch play

  1. You have two serves before it is your opponent’s turn to serve twice. This used to be five serves each but since changing to 11 it’s now just two.
  2. At 10-10 it’s deuce. You get one serve each and must win by two clear points.This is sudden death or table tennis’ equivalent of a tie break.
  3. If you are playing a best of 3, 5 or 7 (as opposed to just one set) you have to change ends after each game.This makes sure both players experience conditions on both sides of the table. You also change ends when the first player reaches five points in the final game of a match.

A let is called if…

  1. An otherwise good serve touches the net.This ensures your opponent has a chance at making a return.
  2. The receiver isn’t ready (and doesn’t try to hit the ball).This is just common sense really!
  3. If play is disturbed by something outside of the players’ control.This allows you to replay the point if your cat jumps onto the table, etc.

A point is lost if…

  1. The service is missed.
  2. The service is not returned.
  3. A shot goes into the net.
  4. A shot goes off the table without touching the court.
  5. A player moves the table, touches the net or touches the table with their free hand during play.

Odd Table Tennis Rules

Here are a few table tennis rules and regulations that surprised me.

You are allowed to accidentally ‘double hit’ the ball!

  • The rules state that you lose a point if you deliberately strike the ball twice in succession.
  • Did you know this? I think it’s a new rule. What do you think of it?

You are allowed a maximum of two advertisements on the back of your shirt, in international competitions.

  • I wonder if they ever check to see if players have three?
  • I’ve certainly never heard of a player having to change a shirt because they have too many adverts on their back!
  • Let me know if you ever see a video with someone wearing three in an international competition.

The playing surface of the table can be made of any material.

(Video) Service Rules | PingSkills | Table Tennis

  • All it has to do is give a uniform bounce of about 23cm when a ball is dropped from 30cm.
  • I’m pretty sure they are always made of wood though but I may be wrong.

The racket can be any size, shape or weight.

  • I’ve seen a few funny home-made bats recently from local league players. One was made of balsa wood and about an inch thick!
  • At the time I thought, “It’s fine here but they wouldn’t get away with that in an actual tournament”.
  • Well, apparently they would!

If a wheelchair player is playing in an able-bodied tournament their opponents must play ‘wheelchair rules’ against them.

  • I came into contact with this rule coaching at Junior British League Qualifiers last summer. I was ensured by the tournament umpires and referees that this was the case and I myself had no idea, so I had to go with it.
  • I since discovered that the rules state that wheelchair service/receive rules apply simply, “if the receiver is in a wheelchair”, regardless of who the server is.

Whether you’re new to the sport or have been playing for years I hope you found that interesting.

If you would like to have at look at the official table tennis rules and regulations, in depth, then you can do so on the ITTF regulations page. You can even download a PDF document full of all the table tennis rules you can possibly consume. Did I miss anything important? Either serious or funny. If so, please let me know and I’ll update the post.

So, now you know the rules… What next?

I’m a table tennis coach, not an umpire. Therefore… I’m passionate about helping players improve their game!

(Video) Ping Pong Rules | Table Tennis Rules

If you’re serious about learning how to play table tennis you should check out some of the FREE online training courses offered by TableTennisUniversity.com. Coach Tao Li’s 12-part Basics Mastery course is a brilliant place to start. It used to be sold for $97 but it is now available completely for FREE!

Table Tennis Rules and Regulations (1)

The course is hosted on Table Tennis University’s fantastic new online platform and covers areas such as;

  • The shakehands and penhold grip
  • The basic topspin serve (forehand and backhand)
  • The forehand and backhand drive
  • The forehand and backhand block
  • The forehand smash
  • And the side shuffle footwork

You’ll find a handy discussion area below each video where you can ask questions and interact with TTU coaches and other course members.

There’s also the added feature of downloadable training schedules for each of the twelve lessons, to help you plan and structure your subsequent practice effectively.

Get Immediate, Lifetime Access – For FREE!

(Video) New service rules explained

It really is a fantastic introduction to mastering the sport of table tennis, featuring approximately two hours of footage. Enroll TODAY!

FAQs

Why are table tennis games played to 11 points? ›

Up until 2001 a table tennis game was played up to 21 points. But in order to make the game more exciting, have more "crucial" points, and to make it more appealing to television viewers, the rules of table tennis were changed. A game of table tennis is now played up to 11 points.

What are the importance of the rules and regulations in a sports event like table tennis? ›

Rules provide an agreement of understanding to competition. In sports, rules define what is allowed or not allowed to occur during situations on and off the court. Rules govern anything from wearing proper uniforms to how to keep score during games of different levels of competition.

Why must rule be followed in playing table tennis? ›

The players are expected to conduct themselves on the court in a sportsman-like way and respect their opponents and Umpires. Following this etiquette will ensure your matches go over smoothly without conflict.

How many sets are there in table tennis? ›

A match is played best 3 of 5 games. For each game, the first player to reach 11 points wins that game, however a game must be won by at least a two point margin. A point is scored after each ball is put into play.

How many points is a table tennis game? ›

A game is won by being the first player to win 11 points, and be at least 2 points ahead of his or her opponent. If both players have won 10 points, then the first player to get a 2 point lead wins the game. A match is the best of 5 games. The score begins at 0-0, and the server will serve first.

When did table tennis rules change? ›

The amended versions of the laws and regulations affected by the AGM decision to adopt the 11 point scoring system are shown below, with the changes underlined. These laws and regulations came into effect on 1 September 2001.

What is table tennis racket called? ›

Officially called a "racket" by the International Table Tennis Federation, "paddle" (generally used in the United States) and "bat" (in Britain) are also common terms. Rubber may be applied to one or both sides, depending on the player's grip.

What is the highest score in table tennis? ›

According to the laws of table tennis, a player can win a game of table tennis by scoring 11 points - with one point awarded for every infringement. Every player gets to serve twice in a row. The first to 11 points is declared the winner.

How many points is a tie break? ›

As of the 2022 U.S. Open, when a match reaches 6-6 in the deciding set, a 10-point tiebreaker will be played to determine the match. The first person to reach 10 points while holding a margin of two or more points wins the match.

What are the rules and regulations of badminton? ›

The Laws of Badminton
  • A match consists of the best of 3 games of 21 points.
  • Every time there is a serve – there is a point scored.
  • The side winning a rally adds a point to its score.
  • At 20 all, the side which gains a 2 point lead first, wins that game.
  • At 29 all, the side scoring the 30th point, wins that game.

How many let serves are allowed in table tennis? ›

The simple answer is that there's no limit on the number of times you can replay the service when it has hit the net. Rule 2.09 states that it shall be a let "if in service the ball touches the net assembly, provided the service is otherwise correct or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his or her partner".

How do you play the game table tennis? ›

How To Play Table Tennis - Service Basics - YouTube

What is the importance of the rules and regulations in playing? ›

Rules provide an agreement of understanding to competition. In sports, rules define what is allowed or not allowed to occur during situations on and off the court. Rules govern anything from wearing proper uniforms to how to keep score during games of different levels of competition.

Why does Rules and regulations plays an important role in every game? ›

Rules ensure that a game is played fair and in proper terms. It also helps ensure the safety of the players preventing serious injuries. Without rules, the game could be chaos.

Why are rules and regulations important in life? ›

Rules and laws ensure the general safety of a person. Rules bring consistency in us. Physical and emotional safety is brought by rules and laws. Our day become more productive is rules are followed.

What is the importance of using the right and proper facilities and equipment in playing table tennis? ›

Poor quality rubbers and blades will hinder your ability to execute intricate shots, and stunt your development as a player. Table tennis is sport where precision means everything.

What precautionary measures you are going to do while doing the table tennis? ›

Take Precautions while Playing Table Tennis
  • Wash your hands properly with hand sanitizer or a soap before entering table tennis arena or club.
  • Bring your own equipment's such as racket, towel, water bottles and use it exclusively for yourself.
  • Do not touch your face often while playing table tennis.
13 Mar 2020

How long are table tennis matches? ›

It also depends on how many points are played per game. If 16 points per game are played (a game that ends 11-5), the game will last between 3 and 7 minutes. If 24 points per game are played (a game that ends 13-11), the game will last between 5 and 9 minutes. That means the average game lasts around 5 or 6 minutes.

How long is a table tennis set? ›

A table tennis game lasts until the first team reaches 11 points and leads by at least two points. This typically takes around six minutes to complete. If a game reaches the 10-minute mark and the combined score of both teams is fewer than 18 points, the expedite rule will be initiated to speed up the competition.

How do you win a set? ›

How to Win a Set. In order to win a set, a player/team must win six games, but must be ahead by at least two games. If the player/team that was ahead beforehand, wins again and is ahead seven games to five games, then they win the set.

What is the free hand in table tennis? ›

The hand with which a player does not hold the paddle, but nevertheless still very important when serving the ball. It must stay behind the end line, or an extension of it, until the receiver has hit the ball back over the net.

Who serves in table tennis? ›

Each player gets 2 serves, and it alternates until one of the players scores 11 points, unless there is a deuce (10:10). In that case, each player gets only one serve and it alternates until one of the players gets a two point lead.

What's another name for table tennis? ›

table tennis, also called (trademark) Ping-Pong, ball game similar in principle to lawn tennis and played on a flat table divided into two equal courts by a net fixed across its width at the middle.

What is table tennis in your own opinion? ›

Table tennis is a game played inside by two or four people. The players stand at each end of a table which has a low net across the middle and hit a small light ball over the net, using small bats.

How many players are in tennis? ›

Tennis is a game played on a rectangular-shaped court, which can be one of many surfaces. It is either played with two players (singles match), or four players (doubles match).

Are there faults in table tennis? ›

Fault: A fault in table tennis is the failure of the server to make a good service according to the Laws of Table Tennis. Block: A defensive play in the game that is used to combat loops and smashes in order to keep the ping-pong ball on the table.

Who invented table tennis? ›

The earliest surviving action game of Tennis on a table is a set made by David Foster, patented in England in 1890 (No. 11037): Parlour Table Games, which included table versions of Lawn Tennis, Cricket and Football.

What is the first ball in table tennis? ›

The 38mm celluloid ball

This was the first official Table Tennis ball. Before this one, Table Tennis balls were made of cork or other materials. This ball was used from the year 1900 until its 100th anniversary in the year 2000 when it was replaced by the 40mm ball.

Why is TT bat red and black? ›

To help a player distinguish between different types of rubber used by his opponent, regulations specify that one side of a paddle must be red, blue, violet, pink, or green while the other must be black, allowing a player to see what side of a paddle hits the ball mid-play.

What is the first point in a tennis score? ›

For the unfamiliar, tennis starts with both players at zero, called love: “Love-all.” One person scores: 15 to love. The server's score is said first, the receiver's second. The other now scores, and they're tied at “15-all.” The next point is 30, then 40, and the following point wins that game.

What is the longest ping pong shot? ›

Neither player had any interest in attacking first, which turned the point into a game of basement ping pong, except these are professionals. The result was a stunning 766 shot rally that lasted over 10 minutes and only got stopped because a second ball was accidentally dropped into the play area — halting the point.

Do you say love in table tennis? ›

In French, an egg is “L'Œuf”, which is pronounced very close to “Love”. That's why “Love” is the score 0 in table tennis. 0 = “Egg” = “L'Œuf” (French) Pronounced as “Love”.

Why is tennis scored 15 30 and 40? ›

Tennis scores were shown in the middle ages on two clock faces which went from 0 to 60. On each score the pointer moved round a quarter from 0 to 15, 30, 45 and a win on 60. Somehow the forty five got truncated to forty when the clock faces dropped out of use.

Why is it 40 not 45 in tennis? ›

When the hand moved to 60, the game was over. However, in order to ensure that the game could not be won by a one-point difference in players' scores, the idea of "deuce" was introduced. To make the score stay within the "60" ticks on the clock face, the 45 was changed to 40.

What does AD mean in tennis? ›

AD – Short for Advantage. It is the point scored after Deuce. If the serving side scores, it is Ad-in. If the receiving side scores, it is Ad-out. ALL – An even score.

What are basic rules regulations? ›

Regulations imply the directives which a body or authority creates and maintains. These are lawfully enforced. As against, rules are the basic guidelines of instructions that states the way of doing something correctly.

Why is it important to learn the rules and regulations of badminton? ›

By learning the badminton rules and regulations, you will increase your understanding and enjoyment of the game. The rules will vary, depending upon what type of game you play, whether single or doubles or tournament or casual match.

What are the rules and regulations in basketball? ›

What Are the Rules of Basketball?
  • Only five players per team on the court. ...
  • Score more than your opponent to win. ...
  • Score within the shot clock. ...
  • Dribbling advances the ball. ...
  • The offense has five seconds to inbound the ball. ...
  • The offense must advance the ball. ...
  • Ball and ballhandler must remain inbounds.
7 Jun 2021

Can you return a let serve? ›

No. A service let suggests the ball hit the net and successfully landed in the correct service box. The server should repeat their serve. However, if the ball hits the net and lands outside of the correct service box, it is considered a fault.

How many faults do you get in tennis? ›

After a fault, play stops immediately. If there has been only one fault on this point, the server is then allowed another attempt. If there have been two faults on this point, the point is awarded to the receiver: this is known as a double fault.

Do you serve 5 times in ping-pong? ›

There is no limit on how many lets the server can serve in a row. The receiver will then attempt to return the ball over or around the net so that it bounces first on the server's side of the table.

What are the rules and regulations of table tennis? ›

Official Rules of Table Tennis
  • GAMES ARE PLAYED TO 11 POINTS. ...
  • ALTERNATE SERVES EVERY TWO POINTS. ...
  • TOSS THE BALL STRAIGHT UP WHEN SERVING. ...
  • THE SERVE CAN LAND ANYWHERE IN SINGLES. ...
  • DOUBLES SERVES MUST GO RIGHT COURT TO RIGHT COURT. ...
  • A SERVE THAT TOUCHES THE NET ON THE WAY OVER IS A “LET” ...
  • ALTERNATE HITTING IN A DOUBLES RALLY.

What are the basic rules of tennis? ›

General Rules of Tennis

Players/teams cannot touch the net or posts or cross onto the opponent's side. Players/teams cannot carry the ball or catch it with the racquet. Players cannot hit the ball twice. Players must wait until the ball passes the net before they can return it.

What are 3 rules of serving in table tennis? ›

There are 3 steps you need to follow to serve correctly:

1) Hold the ball on your palm, above the table, and behind the end line. 2) Throw it up vertically at least 16cm. 3) Hit the ball so that it bounces once on your side, clears the net, then bounces on your opponent's side.

What are the rules and regulations of badminton? ›

The Laws of Badminton
  • A match consists of the best of 3 games of 21 points.
  • Every time there is a serve – there is a point scored.
  • The side winning a rally adds a point to its score.
  • At 20 all, the side which gains a 2 point lead first, wins that game.
  • At 29 all, the side scoring the 30th point, wins that game.

What is a regulation ping pong paddle? ›

Ping-Pong Paddles (Table Tennis Rackets) have an average blade length of 6.7” (17 cm), blade width of 5.9” (15 cm), an overall length between 9.45”-10.25” (240-260 mm). The weight of a Ping-Pong Paddle is between of 2.47-3.53 oz (70-100 g).

What are the rules of beer pong? ›

It involves four people, teams of two, where a ping pong ball is propelled across a table aiming at one of the opponents cups. When a ball is sunk in a cup the players from the team scored upon have to drink its contents. Once all the other side's cups are empty that team has won.

What is the rules for badminton? ›

The first side to 21 points wins a game. A point is scored on every serve and awarded to whichever side wins the rally. The winning side gets the next serve. If the score is 20-20, a side must win by two clear points to win the game.

What are basic rules regulations? ›

Regulations imply the directives which a body or authority creates and maintains. These are lawfully enforced. As against, rules are the basic guidelines of instructions that states the way of doing something correctly.

Why is it important to learn the rules and regulations of badminton? ›

By learning the badminton rules and regulations, you will increase your understanding and enjoyment of the game. The rules will vary, depending upon what type of game you play, whether single or doubles or tournament or casual match.

Why do we need to implement rules and regulations? ›

Benefits of Rules and Regulations

Following rules and regulations help employees understand what is expected of them and what will happen if they violate the rules. It makes for a stable office environment where people feel safe to come to work, to be themselves and to go about their business.

What are table tennis players called? ›

Why are table tennis players called paddlers?

Can you use two bats in table tennis? ›

Many table tennis bat cases, such as the one to your right, are “double wallets” meaning they have space to accommodate two bats.

What size is a table tennis bat? ›

The official rules of table tennis state that a racket can be of any size, shape or weight, but the blade must be flat and rigid and made of at least 85% natural wood. However you'll find that most rackets are all very similar in size - about 15cm (6 inches) across and 25cm (10 inches) long including the handle.

How many cups are in Pong? ›

At each end of your beer pong table, arrange ten cups in a pyramid-like formation. Fill each cup with your desired amount of beverage.

How long is a Pong table? ›

The standard ping pong table (aka full size table) size measures 9' long by 5' wide and 2.5' high. There are also smaller 7' by 3.5' tables and larger 10' by 6' tables but if you want to play on an official International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) size table then choose the 9' by 5' model.

How many cups is island in Pong? ›

What Does The Island Beer Pong Rule Mean? If you've created a tiny “red solo cup island,” you may declare “island.” You can only declare “island” as long as the other side still has at least two touching cups. There must be at least 3 cups in play.

How many players are in tennis? ›

Tennis is a game played on a rectangular-shaped court, which can be one of many surfaces. It is either played with two players (singles match), or four players (doubles match).

What are the 10 rules of playing badminton? ›

Here are the top 10 rules to remember as a beginner playing badminton!
  • Coin toss initiates a game. ...
  • A player should never touch the net with his racquet or body while playing.
  • It is not permitted to carry or rest the shuttlecock on the racquet.
  • The shuttlecock should not be hit over the net.
10 Mar 2022

What is the number one rule in playing the game? ›

1. Respect Your Opponent. Undoubtedly, the most important rule in all sports is that you must always show respect towards your opponents when playing in any type of sporting event. The people that you are playing against are not your enemies, and should be treated like any other person.

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