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Rules of Ping Pong

Rules of Ping Pong

Welcome to the Rules of Ping Pong Page. Here you will find the ping pong basic rules, ping pong rules for serving, ping pong scoring rules, ping pong game rules, as well as the source links for official ping pong rules documents from both the International Table Tennis Federation and USA Table Tennis.

Table of Contents

1. Ping Pong Basic Rules

The aim of the ping pong game is simple. All you need to do is hit the ball over the net onto your opponent’s side, and if he or she does not manage to return it onto your side. Read more details about scoring down in the article Ping Pong Rules Scoring section.

1.1 Requirements to play Ping Pong Game

To play a ping pong game, you need a ping pong table, two or for ping pong paddles depending if you are playing singles or doubles, ping pong ball, and one or 3 friends to play with. If you meet all the requirements, the fun is about to start.

1.2 Game is won by scoring 11 points

The winner of the ping pong game is the first one that reaches 11 points. An additional condition to this rule is that there must be a difference of at least two points between you and your opponent. When the score ties at 10-10 game are extended to an extra play until one of the players achieve a lead of two points.

1.3 Match is won by winning 3 games

Match is won by winning 3 games of 5. But You can play it for more or fewer games won depends on your prior agreement.

2. Ping Pong Rules For Serving

2.1 When serving, toss the ball straight-up before hitting

Hold the ball in your non-paddle hand, toss it straight up at least 6”, and hit it with the paddle on the way down. The ball must bounce off your tableside, pass over the net and bounce off the opponent’s tableside. Now opponent has to hit it back before the ball touches the table surface again or falls on the ground.
Important Notice: As soon as the ball leaves the server’s non-paddle hand, it is in play, and if the server misses it and the ball hits the ground, it counts as the receiver’s point.

2.2 Serves are alternate every two points

Players on each side of the table take turns serving every two points. If a tied score of 10-10 (“deuce”), then players take turns in serving after every point.

2.3 In singles - the serve can land anywhere

When serving in singles, there is no restriction on where the ball will bounce off (land on) your side or your opponent’s side of the table. It is important not to miss the table or hit the net.

2.4 In doubles - each serve must go from right court to right court

In doubles, the server is always standing on the right side of the table. When the serving ball must bounce off the server’s right court and receiver’s right court (NOTE: It’s still good if the ball lands on the centerline), Doubles partners must switch places after their team serves twice.

2.5 A Serve that touches the net and lands on the opponent's side is a “LET”

When serving, if the ball hits the net and lands on the opponent’s side, it’s considered a disadvantage for the receiver as the ball will change its previous flight patch (direction) and drastically shorten the receiver’s time for the reaction to return the ball to the server successfully. Because of that, in this situation server will repeat the serve as many times as this occurs. The professional term for this type of situation is LET serve.

3. Ping Pong Rules Scoring

You win a point if your opponent is unable to return the ball to your side of the table (e.g., they miss the ball, they hit the ball, but it misses your side of the table, or the ball hits the net), or if they hit the ball before it bounces on their side of the table.

3.1 You Win a Point if your hit bounces back over the net by itself

During the serve or in a rally, when you hit the ball, and it bounces of your court, fly over the net, bounces off the opponent’s court, and returns over the net to your side of the table (due to extreme spin), without your opponent touching it, you win the point.

3.2 You Win a Point if your hit bounces off the tabletop surface edge

After the serve or any time during the play after the ball pass the net to your opponent’s side, hit the edge of the tabletop surface and bounces sideways or in any other way confuses the opponent as it changed direction it is a completely legal point for you.

3.3 Opponent wins a Point If your hit bounces off the table side or frame

During the gameplay, if you hit the ball and miss the opponent’s court and hit the side of the tabletop or frame of the table, it is an illegal move, and you lose the point.

4. Ping Pong Game Rules

4.1 No volleys in a ping pong game

Players are not allowed to hit the ball before it bounces off their court. If you hit the ball before that, it’s considered a volley, and you lose a point.

4.2 Alternate hitting in a doubles game

Regardless of the place on the table where the ball legally lands in a rally, partners in double must take turns hitting it.

4.3 Touching the ball with your paddle hand

In a situation when the ball touches your paddle hand and results in a legal hit, there is no violation of ping pong rules, and the game shall continue as normal. Everything below the hand’s wrist that holds the paddle (including hand area and fingers) is considered your paddle hand.

4.4 Touching the table with your non-paddle hand

In a situation, for example, if you lean on the table to return a short serve and touch the table with your non-paddle hand or your body, it is ok as long as you don’t move the table. If you move the table because you touched it during the gameplay, it’s automatically your opponent’s point.

4.5 Disagreements are solved by "HONOR SYSTEM"

If there is no referee present during the match and players disagree on a certain situation, the “honor system” comes into play, and players should find a solution or repeat the point. Ping pong carries a long tradition of competitive but fair gameplay. Please always try to keep it that way.

5. Ping Pong Rules Official - Sources

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