You wanna play Ping pong/Table tennis?
Don’t know the Table tennis rules?
Don’t worry, in this post I’ll explain just that one-by-one.
Here is the set of few basic Table tennis rules to get you started playing table tennis.
The table tennis rules are set in accordance with the International Table Tennis Federation( ITTF) for professional play.
However, if you are a beginner you just need to know the basic rules.( which i’ll cover in this post ). And these are same all over the world.
So table tennis rules in India are the same as the rules in any other place.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that these are just some of the basic table tennis rules which I feel is sufficient for a beginner to get started. To know about more, you can always visit the ITTF official website for in-depth Rules, Regulations, and Conduct.
If you don’t want to read the whole post,
You can watch the below video. ( Tip: Turn on the subtitles for better understanding.)
BASIC TABLE TENNIS RULES
Before moving to the rules we first need to know the different equipments and tools used in Table tennis game. Here they are:-
#1. The Table
The upper surface of the table is the playing area. All the play happens here.
The table surface is rectangular in shape, 2.74 m long and 1.525 m wide, occupying a height of 76 cm above the ground. The table consists of four quadrants.
The centre line ( in white) divides the width into two equal halves.
The playing surface is divided into two courts by means of a Vertical Net running parallel with the end lines.
For doubles, each court shall be divided into 2 equal half-courts by a white centre line, 3mm wide, running parallel with the sidelines; the centre line shall be regarded as part of each right half-court.
#2. The Net Assembly
The Net divides the playing area into two courts. The top of the net along its whole length shall be 15.25 cms in height.
The bottom of the shall be as close to the playing area possible.
#3. The Ball
The ball is spherical in shape with a diameter of 40mm.
It weighs around 270 gms.
The ball is generally made of celluloid.
It comes in a variety of colours mainly White, Orange and Red.
#4. The Racket Or Paddle
The racket or paddle is made of wood.
It is covered with rubber on one or both sides depending on a person’s grip.
At least 85% of the paddle is natural wood.
The TT rackets come in all shapes and sizes.
#5. Starting a Game
Before you start a game, you need to decide who will serve first. Officially by the rules of ITTF, it is done by a toss ( either tossing a coin or disc having distinct sides)
But, if you are playing casually with your friends or family, you can choose any method.
A common method which is used is umpire takes the ball in his hand, hides it under the table and ask one of the players to guess which hand is the ball hidden.
Often times the winner chooses to serve first. But, here are the other options.
You can either
- choose to serve first
- make your opponent serve first; or
- Decide which side of the table to play from
If the winner chooses the side, the opponent can decide whether to serve or make his opponent serve.
If the winner chooses to serve, the opponent can select the side of the table to play from
For beginner level and casual play, you can opt to play a game of 11 or 21 points.
However, Starting 2001 the official game is played to 11 points.
#6. Service and Serving
The entire table is under the playing area, including the edges.
- The server must stand behind the end of the table to serve.
- Serving the ball, you have to rest it in your non-playing hand’s palm. The server then projects (throws) the ball vertically upwards.
- While the ball is approaching down, you have to hit it with your racket such that it bounces once on your side and at least once on your opponent’s side of the table.
If your opponent allows the ball to bounce off their side more than once, they will lose the point.
Similarly, during your serve it bounces two times in your court, you lose the point.
The ball can bounce anywhere on the table, you are not under any obligation to serve on one part of the table. ( Unless you are playing doubles).
After the service, you have to always hit it on your opponent’s side of the table. ( No two bounces allowed after service)
If, while serving, the ball bounces off the table, touches the top of the net and bounces on your opponent’s side: you have to re-play the serve ( Re-serve)
But, if it bounces, hits the net and bounces on your side of the table again: the server loses the points.
#7. How Many Serves Per Player
If you are playing 21 points game: Each player has Five consecutive serves.
If you are playing 11 points game: Each player has Two consecutive serves.
In case both the players reach 10-10 or 20-20 scores, each player gets one serve henceforth and serves are alternated..
If both players reach 10-10 or 20-20, it is called DEUCE.
You have to score two consecutive points after Deuce to win the match.
If you score one point after deuce, it becomes “ADVANTAGE” for you and you just need one more point to win ( i.e Match Point ). But, if you don’t score that point, the game resumes to DEUCE. It continues unless one scores two consecutive points.
In some cases, when the match continuously resumes to a DEUCE, you can mutually communicate with your opponent for a SUDDEN DEATH, where the one who scores immediately will win. ( Note that it can be only done after 5-6 deuces in a row)
#8. How Are Points Scored
Points can be scored if you keep the ball on the table longer than your opponent.
Here are other ways you can score:
- If there is an error in serve ( i.e bouncing twice on your table or throwing the ball in the air and not hitting it on the table).
- Error in return ( i.e You fail to return the ball back to your opponent’s table or while returning you hit the net and it bounces on your side)
- Not hitting ball after having bounced off the table.
- Hitting the ball before bouncing on your side.
- Hitting the ball twice ( double hits)
- Placing non-playing hand on the table, moving table or net while in play.
- Obstructing ball with any body part. ( unless it doesn’t bounce off your table first)
#9. How Do You Win A Match
In a 21 Matchpoint game, one who scores 21 points the fastest wins.
Similarly in 11 points game, the one who scores 11 points first wins.
Matches need to be in Odd number series.
You can have 1, 3, 5 or 7 Match series.
#10. Table Tennis Doubles Rules
In doubles, each player has two serves. The service alternates every two points.
The serve alternates between players of the same team.
At end of two points, the server becomes receiver and partner of receiver becomes the server.
Player 1 and 2 VS Player 3 and 4
Player 1 serves to Player 3, Player 3 returns.
Now, the ball must be hit by Player 1 partner i.e Player 2. If Player 1 hits, its foul and Opponents get the point.
After Player 2 returns back the ball on the table, player 4 must hit the ball. Thereafter Player 1 must hit and so on.
Service In Doubles
Assume, player 1 serves to player 3
The game continues for 2 points. i.e Player 1(server) serves 2 times to player 3(receiver)
After 2 points, Player 2(new receiver) becomes the receiver and Player 3(server) serves for 2 times and so on.
What happens is, after every two serves, the server exchanges the position with their partner.
Other Things to note
The server has to serve the ball in diagonally opposite opponents quadrant, failing to do so will lose them a point.
These are some of the basic laws of table tennis which needs to be kept in mind for a beginner.
As you advance, you will get to know more rules.
If you want to read all the laws and rules, You can do it by visiting the official website of ITTF.