Table tennis is a wonderful sport with the well detailed rules & regulations, practiced and played by all across the world.
For an avid table tennis fan, the following table tennis players guide with an additional focus on table tennis (ping pong) rules, for singles, doubles, serving rules, faults & Penalties, is going to be quite helpful and an interesting read.
Table tennis, also known colloquially as Ping-Pong, is a diminutive form of lawn tennis, having identical principles. Table Tennis is comparatively an oldest, historical & most popular game all across the world.
How Table Tennis is Played?
It is played on a flat tabled court (9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 2.5 feet high), with small and handheld paddles and a light hollow ball. The court, similar to that of tennis, is partitioned into two similar sized courts by a middle fixed tiny net (15.25 cm).
The Ping-Pong has acquired gigantic popularity as an organized, challenging, exciting and competitive game all over the globe, particularly in Asian countries (China, Japan and South Korea), European (England, Hungry, Sweden and Belarus) and American countries (the USA), under the supervision of International Table Tennis Federation
The Object of Playing
The basic object of the game is to make the lightweight hollow ball dance back and forth over the miniature net, with the help of small paddles held by individuals playing the game. While the particular object is, unquestionably, to win the match by scoring more points and winning more than half number of games, being played between either 1 vs 1 (singles) or 2 vs 2 (doubles).
For obtaining points, one has to play the ball, in a way, so that the ball clears the net and lands on the other half (opponent’s side) by beating opponent and making them unable to control it or return it in due time with lawful hit.
Related Post: 14 Best Recommended Table Tennis Rackets in 2020
Table Tennis Rules & Regulations
The table tennis sport has the following set of interesting rules & regulations for a beginners to advanced level playing.
1. Scoring Rules
The score, as usual, begins at 0-0, and it’s the server that serves the ball first. Ping-pong sport comprises following three integral components of score:
a). A Point:
A player or team wins a point when the opponent side fails to return the ball after you have hit it to your opponent’s side. In simple words, when your opponent, by any means, fails to return the ball to you, you earn a point.
Note: In case both the players have scored 10 points, the first player getting a lead of 2 points gains victory in the game.
b). A Game:
A player or team wins the game by scoring 11 points before opponent/opponents and leading opponent side at least by 2 points.
c). A Match:
A match consists of 5 to 7 games or usually an odd number of games. A player or team has to win more than half number of games to claim victory.
For example: In a match of 5 games, one has to win at least 3 games, similarly 4 games have to be won out of 7 games.
2. Serving Rules
- Initially, the ball should rest on a straight and motionless palm of server’s hand. Later, it should be tossed up in the air, at least 6 inches high, and hit, while ball being in the air, so that the ball, must, first of all bounce on the side of server and on the opponent’s side afterwards.
- The serve is declared to be quite fair, except it touches the tiny net fixed in the middle of court.
- If the serve comes in physical contact with the net, it becomes a let serve.
- A let serve is scoreless and retain able.
a). Serving Rules For Singles
- Initially, the ball should rest on a straight and motionless palm of server’s hand. This will prevent server from throwing the ball up with spin.
- The ball should be thrown in vertical direction, as high as 16 cm. This will prevent the server from striking the ball straight to the other side of the court and thus deceiving the opponent.
- The ball has to be both; above and behind the table while serving.
- This will stop the server from gaining an awkward angle and thereby giving equal opportunity to opponent while replying the serve.
- After the ball is thrown, the server should take his free arm and hand aside. Thus allowing the opponent to have a look at the ball coming his way.
b). Serving Rules For Doubles
- The serve should be made diagonally. It means the ball should go from server’s right-hand side to the receiver’s right-hand side.
- This will not confuse opponent pair, and they won’t collide with each other while hitting the ball back.
- In doubles, the pair has to strike the ball on alternate turns. Thus, it becomes quite challenging and exciting for both teammates.
3. Rotation Rule for Doubles
This rule makes it rather certain that both teammates have the opportunity to perform as the server and the receiver. This cycle is repeated after every eight points. The rule states;
- When the change of service takes place, the previous receiver has to take the position of new server
- Whereas the partner of the previous server has to take the position of the receiver.
A1 (first server) serves the ball to B1 (first receiver), the B1 then, returns the ball his opponent.
A2 (second server) hits the ball to B2 (second receiver) who again returns this.
Afterwards, A1 serves and B2 receives and returns, similarly A2 strikes and B1 responds…so on and so forth.
Must Obeyed Service Rules
These Service Rules explain that;
- You should, first, make the ball land and bounce on your side of the court, and in your opponent’s court later.
- On the other end, your opponents, before trying to return the ball, should permit it to land and bounce once on their side.
- You should hit the ball in a way that it clears the net comfortably.
- In case, it goes over the net after clipping it, it is considered a ‘let’.
- A let is usually retained by the server.
- Conversely, if the ball hits directly to the net and doesn’t cross the net, your opponents get a point.
Note: In this case, there is no other serve.
- When you miss a serve.
- When you’re unable to return the serve.
- When your shot collides with the net and falls on your side.
- When your forceful smash make the ball go out of the table without touching the court.
- When you willfully or unintentionally touch the table, move it or even touch the net.
Note: This rule of 21 points was modified by the ITTF in 2001
1. What are Table Tennis Rules 21 Points?
A game is declared to have been won by the player who scores 11 points before his opponent and also leads by at least 2 points. In case, both the players have scored (10-10) points respectively, the game would jump from 11 points to 21 points as winning target. However, first player to score 2 more points wins the game.
2. Who Serves first in Table Tennis?
It’s usually decided by the toss.
3. How does Table Tennis Serve work?
Initially, the ball should rest on a straight and motionless palm of server’s hand. Later, it should be tossed up in the air, at least 6 inches high, and hit, while ball being in the air, so that the ball, must, first of all bounce on the side of server and on the opponent’s side afterwards.
The serve is declared to be quite fair, except it touches the tiny net fixed in the middle of court. If the serve comes in physical contact with the net, it becomes a let serve. A let serve is scoreless and retain-able.
3. What is a Cross Service?
In singles, apparently, there is no limit for serving. One can serve on his own discretion. While in doubles, this privilege is not observed and the change of service takes place.
This cross service goes as; the previous receiver has to take the position of new server whereas the partner of the previous server has to take the position of the receiver. This makes it rather certain that both teammates have the opportunity to perform as the server and the receiver. This cycle is repeated after every eight points.
For instance: A1 (first server) serves the ball to B1 (first receiver), the B1 then, returns the ball his opponent. A2 (second server) hits the ball to B2 (second receiver) who again returns this. Afterwards, A1 serves and B2 receives and returns, similarly A2 strikes and B1 responds…so on and so forth.
4. Can you lose on a Serve?
Yes, definitely. You can lose on a serve, if your serve is unable, by any means, to clear the net easily and reach the receiver.
5. Swing and Miss a Serve Rules?
If the server swings his bat in order to make contact with the ball but unlikely misses the serve, the point goes to his opponent. As per rule, the play starts once the server tosses the ball in the air.
6. Serve faults Rules
There are a number of service faults in ping-pong such as:
- The ball, after being served wrongly, can go either off the table or from the sides of the table on the receiver side.
- The recipient must return the serve after one bounce, otherwise he loses the point.
- You can avail a let as long as you don’t fall prey to a major fault.
- In case of a major fault, you can’t avail another serve.
7. What is an Illegal Serve?
It is considered an illegal serve, when the server tries to hide the ball from the receiver during the serve. It means the server must not hide the ball from his opponent with his free hand, free arm, racquet, tosro etc.
8. How does Scoring Work ?
In table tennis scoring works uniquely. Here, a game consists points, while a match consists of games. A game is declared to have been won by the player who scores 11 points before his opponent and also leads by at least 2 points.
In case, both the players have scored 10 points respectively, the first player to score 2 more points wins the game. Whereas a match consists of odd number of games either 5 or 7 and is won by winning more than half of the games.
9. Does the Ball have to Bounce?
Yes, it has to bounce. You should, first, make the ball land and bounce on your side of the court, and in your opponent’s court later. On the other end, your opponents, before trying to return the ball, should permit it to land and bounce once on their side.
10. Can the Ball Bounce twice?
The simple answer to this question is NO! The serve can only bounce once on either side of the court. Firstly, it has to bounce once on the server’s side.
Secondly, it should bounce once on the opponent’s side. If it bounces twice on receiver’s side, the server gets a point as a result of double bounce on opponent’s side.
11. Can you hit the Ball twice?
No, you can’t hit the ball twice. If the ball hits your hand, thumb or finger first and then your bat, it’s considered a double hit and you are supposed to lose the point. If the ball hits your hand and the bat simultaneously, this is not considered a double hit, and thus no point is lost and the rally would continue.
12. If a Ball hits you whose point is it?
What happens if the ball hits your finger in Ping-pong The point usually goes to the other player whose hit has been touched by his opponent. In simple words, if your opponent touches your hit, you get a point and in case you touch a hit that comes from your opponent, your opponent gets a point.
13. What are the Rules for hitting the Net?
There two simple rules for that:
(1) If the ball, after being served, touches the net and falls on other side of the net, it’s a let. A let is usually retaken by the server.
(2). If the ball, after being served, collides with the net and falls on the server’s side or falls off the table, the server loses a point.
14. What are Rules for Edge of the Table?
This rule solely depends on the nature of a good return. It means the ball, after hitting the edge of the table, must bounce vertically so that the receiver have a fair opportunity to return the ball. After all, it seems rather impossible for the ball to bounce that way.
15. Side of Table Table Tennis Rules
For singles, there is no side of the table but for doubles, each player has to serve diagonally as it’s done in many racquet sports such as; tennis, squash and badminton.
16. What are rules for touching the Table?
Touching table during the play in not permissible in table tennis. If you are playing with one hand and getting support of the table with other hand, you are supposed to lose a point. However, you can touch the table when the ball is not in the play.
17. Why do a Players touch the Table?
Ping-pong players touch the least used area (somewhere near the net) of the table to wipe their sweat from there perspiring hands.
18. Does the Ball have to touch the Table before you hit it?
Yes, it has to touch the surface once. You are supposed to let the ball bounce on the table once before you hit to the opponent. In case you don’t show patience and volley it, you certainly lose the rally. Volleys are not permissible in ping-pong.
19. Rules for Playing Surface
In ping-pong, the surface is settled on a table. As per standards of the game, it has to be 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 2.5 feet high. The size may vary for kids or individuals blessed with low heights.
20. Can You Volley in Ping Pong?
No, not at all! Volley (when the ball, after being served, is in the air and hasn’t landed or touched the ground) is not permissible in ping-pong. If you try to volley, you are violating the laws of the game.
21. Can You hit the Net while Playing?
No, not at all. If your hit collides with the net and falls on your side, your opponent will get a point.
22. What are rules for hitting with Hand?
The player uses his one hand for holding the racquet/bat and striking the ball. He can’t use his hand that is free. In case his hitting tool drops, his both hands become free and thus you can’t use either of the hands.
23. What are Rules for tie Break?
Both the players get one serve each and have to win the game by scoring 11 points and lead by 2 points. In case both the players/teams have scored 10-10, it’s deuce. As a result of deuce, players get one serve each and should win it by availing two definite points.
24. What is a let ?
A Let is declared on strokes and points that do not count. When the serve by the server comes in physical contact with the net and drops on other side of the court (on opponent’s side), it becomes a let serve. A let serve is scoreless and retain able.
25. What are Rules out of Bounds?
In: When the ball hits or lands on a white line marked on the surface or even an edge of the surface it is considered “in”. Out: When the ball hits or lands on a vertical side it is declared as “out”.
Let’s now wrap up on this, ping-pong is the game of alacrity, fantastic footwork, quick hands and eyes coordination and scintillating skills. It’s played on tiny tennis court that is fixed on a table, a bat and a lightweight and hollow ball.
This game can be played singles and doubles. Singles have slightly different rules for doubles. For surpassing your opponent in a game, you have to score 11 points before him but taking lead by 2 points, and in a match by winning half of the games.
In case the score is equal (10-10), it’s considered a deuce and thus game must go on till 21 points.