Complete Table Tennis rules- know how to play ping pong in peace.

So, today we are going to explain the complete table tennis rules and regulation that are set by International table tennis federation (ITTF) in a really simple way.

There will be no more arguing while playing table tennis in the backyard or in a club. So let’s kick off.

Table Tennis Rules

Like any other sports, table tennis has certain rules approved by the International Table Tennis Federation(ITTF). According to these rules, all official competitions and table tennis tournaments are held.

These rules provide all the explanations, all kinds of game situations that can happen at the table in individual, pair, and team competitions.

There are a lot of rules and they are easy to confuse. Often during the local club matches, there are many disputes and misunderstandings:

Table tennis rules in brief

To properly play table tennis with your friends in a club, just read the short rules of table tennis. If you are a professional player, these rules may not be enough for you.

The requirement for ping-pong equipment

So, let’s start with the most important thing – the equipment, without it playing table tennis is impossible.

The minimum requirements for the equipment:

  • Only a racket with a red overlay on one side and a black overlay on the other is allowed to hit the ball. Here is why. If a friend brought a green racket from a sports master and he is the strongest player, you can safely tell him that you will not play, because the tennis racket does not meet the requirements.
  • Only a white ball or orange ball is allowed to play, and always with ITTF marking. If your friends suddenly started to win you with a ball from the supermarket, you have a reinforced concrete excuse – the ball of the wrong system.
  • The height of the net in table tennis is 15.25 cm. There is even a special device that measures the height of the net, and most importantly its tension! Ask your friends to grab it before you go camping, it will be difficult to play without it.
  • The ball should be 40mm in diameter and weigh 2.7g.
  • The racket can be of any weight, shape, and size.

Size of the table: height above the floor – 76 cm; width – 152.5 cm; length – 274 cm.

Points: The question of how long the set lasts in table tennis is probably the most discussed. The thing is that before September 1, 2001, the game was played up to 21 points. Many people still remember that they used to play in 21 points. Now, in table tennis, the game lasts up to 11 points.

  • The game is played up to 11 points.
  • If the score is 10-10 in a table tennis match, the game is played to the advantage of 2 points by one of the players.
  • After each game, the players change sides.
  • Are you a woman? You need to win 3 rounds. Each round 11 points
  • Are you a man? You need to win 4 rounds. Each round 11 points

The service

  • The ball must first rest motionless on the palm of the hand, then be thrown vertically and without effect at a height of at least 16cm.
  • The ball needs to touch or bounce on each half of the table. If the ball hits the net, it is counted as a ” let ” and the service is returned. In doubles, diagonal service is mandatory. In singles, you can serve anywhere on the other side of the table.
  • If the serve goes to the net and enters the opponent’s court, it is called a let. It’s time to redivide the services again. Failure to enter the opponent’s court will result in a loss of points.
  • Both players got 2 continuous services. At 10 points each, both players have only one service left.
  • During the service, the ball must always be behind the baseline and above the level of the playing surface. In addition, no part of the body must be between the ball and the net.
  • Service is to be postponed if the ball hits the net.
  • If the above rules are not followed, the point goes directly to the receiver.
  • The sever must then return the ball directly to his opponent’s court.
  • The throw must be open, flat, face-up, and the ball have to be tossed 16 cm high at least. It should be a vertical throw. The ball should be seen all the time.
  • The toss must be at least 16cm high, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s 50cm or 2m, as long as it’s at least 16cm. However, if you raise it too high, you should not hit the ceiling.
  • If the tossed ball strikes the ceiling or lights, it is considered a missed serve, and a point is lost.
  • The rule is to hit the ball when it falls. It is a rule violation to hit the ball before it has gone all the way up.
  • The position of the ball when serving is above the ping-pong table. However, the position of the racket is not fixed. It is OK to have a racket underneath the stand (previously it was banned, but with the revision of the rules it is now OK).

If one of these rules is violated, the point is lost.

In a single match, the ball can be struck diagonally and also in a straight line. In the following cases, the service must be repeated: 

1. The ball touches the net or a post, before touching the opposing court. The ball touches the net and will then be sent back on the fly by the opponent, without the ball having touched the court. 
2. The player receiving the service was not ready at the time of the service.


After service, the receiving player has to let the ping pong ball bounce at least once on his half.

He need to directly return the ball to the opponent’s court, avoiding the net.

Do not panic, if the ball touches the net, this will not change the course of the game as long as the ball bounces in the opponent’s court!

Touching a table edge doesn’t change the game either; as in the case of a net, the ball should be played by the receiving player.

These rules will be maintained as long as the rally continues.

Doubles service rules

3 rules are added to the rules explained above:

  • the service is always done diagonally, from the right square of the server to the right square of the receiver
  • the ball must be played in turn by the 2 members of a team,
  • All the 4 players have to serve twice, in turn. Player x1 serves 2 times over player y1. Player x1 serves 2 times over player y2. Player x2 serves two times on player y2. Player y2 serves to player x1 twice, and so on.

After the service, everyone obviously plays one after the other. In addition to the cases applying in singles, double players earn a point when the opposing team commits one of the following faults: 
– During service, the player bounces the ball in the left half of the table on either side.

The point will be lost by a player in these cases below:

  • – if the ball bounces more than one time in a player’s own court, 
  • – his racket and the ball touches several times in the same stroke 
  • – the ball does not touch the opponent’s court, 
  • – the table moved by the player while playing
  • – any player touches the table with the non-racket holding hand
  • – the player plays a ball on the fly(volley)
  • – the player hits the ball such a way that it touches to the side of the table (the edge)
  • – He touches the net or a pole. 
  • – He makes a null service

These are the hard and fast rules for someone who doesn’t want to go deep. Below we are going to discuss all the rules in-depth in order to clear all your doubts. Stick with us.

Table Tennis: How to Count Points (Rule Summary)

Here’s a summary of the basics of how to count table tennis points. If you don’t know how to count, please check it out.

Call at the start of the match.
At the start of the match, we will call “Love All”. It means “0-0”. The game begins with a referee’s call.

In small tournaments, there are not many referees who omit the love all. If the referees are unlikely to say love all, they may start the match as is.

The “0” is love.
The “0” in table tennis is the “love”. This has a lot in common with tennis, doesn’t it? If it’s “0-0,” it’s “Love All. If it was “1-0”, it was “One Love”.

Some referees pronounce it as “zero,” but “love” seems to be more correct in the rules. It used to be okay to use “zero”, but they unified it into “love all” at the start of the match and it became “love”.

How to Read the scores of the players who serve?

Table tennis scores are read from the score of the person making the serve. With Love All (0-0), One Love (1-0) if the server scores one point. Conversely, if the server loses a point, it reads Love One (0-1).

When the server changes, the order in which the points are read out also changes. For example, if the server is ahead by two points and is “2-0” and switches serves and becomes a receiver, the score will read “love two”.

■0-0 (Love All).
1-0 (one love).
The server scores.

serve change
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

■2-0 (love two).

It’s a little hard to understand when you put it into one word. Anyway, it’s definitely worth remembering that the scores are read from the server-side.

Table tennis is a sport in which the servers change several times in the middle of the game. Because of this, it may be easy to get a little confused about how to count points.

“10-10” is a deuce.
Table tennis is an 11 points game; by getting 11 points ahead of your opponent, you win the set.

The “10-10” state is called a deuce (juice). When deuce, the rules change a bit.

Rules for Points in Deuce

  • The first person to score two points first wins the game.
  • One serve shift (usually two)

From the time of the “10-10” deuce, the first person to take the first two points wins the game. The game cannot be settled at 11-10, and only at 12-10 can the game be settled.

If the deuce state continues, the points may keep piling up, even after 11 points, such as “12-12”, “13-13″…

Also, one serve will be replaced. Table tennis is a serve-dominant sport. The server will have an advantage if it takes two turns, which is the same as the normal time. As a result, one serve will be replaced at the deuce.

In table tennis rules, “10-10” is read as “ten-all”. However, since deuces are easier to understand, we often call them deuces in general matches as well.

As I wrote above, it’s OK if the point count is a little wrong. However, don’t count in a way that feels too different. It’s probably safe to say that it’s a good idea to learn how to count formally.

Counting Points Summary
I’ve summarized the counting of points in a table. Just remember that everything is in English, except for the “0” which becomes “love”, and you’ll be fine.

pointHow to count

How to use the scoreboard

Number of games and points
Look at the table tennis score table (scoreboard). When you working as a referee, you stand in the middle of the table tennis table with this scoreboard in your hand.

There are four numbers in the score table (scoreboard). Big numbers are the point. In the picture, it’s “0-0”,

The little number in the middle is the game point. Suppose, In the image, it’s “2-1”. A table tennis match is basically a three-game head start. In other words, the person who is two games ahead can win the game by winning one more game.

When the set is over, the points are back to “0-0
When the set is over, put the score table (scoreboard) back to 0-0. It’s important to remember the number of sets. Or else, it will be embarrassing for you to ask the players.

How to determine the right to serve

Serve rights are usually decided by kind of rock paper scissors game in most cases. The Japanese say “janken”. In some big tournaments, the right to serve is decided by a coin toss.

The winner of the (coin toss) can choose either “serve” or “court” (in small tournaments, the court is not given much importance, so there are often only serve/receive choices).

The flow of starting a game in a big match is as follows: Greetings, rally, exchange of rackets, rock-paper-scissors (coin toss), and start the game.

In general, the match is more advantageous if you win the right to serve. In ping-pong, the one to hit the first serve gets a great advantage.

Serve rights are transferred every two runs.
The transfer of serve rights in table tennis is changed between the players; if you hit two serves, the serve rights are transferred to your opponent. This change of serve rights will continue until the end of the game.

However, once the point is 10-10 deuce (also known as juice), the transfer of serve rights changes from one serve to the next.

In the deuce state, the game continues until a two-point deficit is reached. The basic rule is 11 points first, but in deuce conditions, the points may stack up, such as “12-12”, “13-13” or “14-14”.

A two-point deficit, such as “14-16,” is the end of the game.

In this situation, if the right to serve remains two changes, the player with the right to serve will have an advantage. Therefore, the rule of the deuce state is the right to serve moves after every single play.

The transfer of serve rights is the same in singles and doubles.
The right to serve changes between two, whether it’s singles or doubles. This rule remains the same. However, the transfer of serve rights is more complicated than in singles.

In doubles, there will be four players participating in the match. Between these four players, the right to serve will be transferred one by one.

The order of who serves and who receives is fixed, so if you are not careful, you might make a mistake.

Why it’s Advantageous for the Serve Hitter
As I wrote above, the right to serve is a very important factor in table tennis. To take it to the extreme, if the two players are evenly matched, the one who gets the right to serve first wins the match.

Because of this, when you win the toss, you are overwhelmingly the one who wins the right to serve. Why is the right to serve advantageous in table tennis?

This is because you can predict your opponent’s behavior to some extent depending on the type of ball you choose.

For example, if you play a short under-rotation serve, your opponent’s response will be “Tsutsuki” or “Flick”. Either way, you can have them return the ball on the table.

It makes it easier to attack the third ball because you can narrow down your opponent’s options. To put it more simply, it makes it easier to implement your offensive plan.

As mentioned above, in table tennis, serving is closely linked to scoring points, so it is more advantageous to have the right to serve.

In table tennis, the side that hits the serve has the advantage. Therefore, the rule is made that when deucing, the right to serve moves with every single point.

Hiding the ball Rule

In table tennis, it is a foul act to hide your serve. Specifically, the following two acts of hiding constitute a violation of the rules

Two fouls.
(1) Hide the ball in the palm of your hand.
(2) Hide the ball after the toss.

(1) Hide the ball in the palm of your hand.
Before tossing up, place the ball in the palm of your hand. The position of the ball is also determined by the rules.

The act of hiding the ball in a way that wraps it up is considered a foul. In making the toss, you should place the ball on top of it with your palm open, so that the ball is visible to your opponent.

example of a foul play
Cover the ball with your hands and hide it.
Putting the ball at your fingertips.

(2) Hide the ball after the toss.
The act of covering the ball with your hands or clothing after tossing it up is also a foul. It’s a so-called body-hide serve.

By hiding the moment of impact with your body, the type of rotation will not be read by the receiver. Without being able to read the rotation, the receiver is at a significant disadvantage.

The receiver predicts the rotation from the motion of the serve and the direction of the racket. Having that part of your body hidden makes it impossible to judge the rotation.

In table tennis, “watching your rotation” is the minimum requirement to win a match. It’s such an important part that it can’t be overstated.

Reasons for hiding (body hide serve) prohibited

A body-hide serve that hides a tossed ball was allowed under the previous rules but was ruled a foul by the 2002 rule revision.

If pointed out to the referee, a warning or a point will be given.
If a hiding foul like the above is pointed out to the referee, it will be warned or called a fault.

One shot is a fault (forfeit) if the foul play is obvious. If the foul play is questionable, a warning will be issued. The warning is given only once, and the second time it is called a fault.

Why the act of hiding (body-hide serve) was banned
The first time a body-hide serve was a foul was in 2002. Considering the length of the history of ping-pong, it’s pretty recent.

The reason for the ban is said to be “to make table tennis an interesting sport with more rallying and media appeal.

Before the ban on body-hide serves, it was very difficult to see the rotation of the opponent’s serve and missed receptions were very noticeable. It ends with a serve-receive and doesn’t last until the rally.

It didn’t seem to be uncommon for the servers to take points in succession. When the serve was changed by 5 points, there was a situation where they were ahead by 5 points.

Revise rules to focus on attractiveness

The key to the revision of the table tennis rules, including the body-hide serve, is to increase the crowd attraction. They continue to revise the rules of the game to make it more enjoyable for the crowd.

In 2000, the size of the ball was increased from 38mm to 40mm. The reason for this rule revision is said to be that “the rally doesn’t last and the people don’t like it”.

With smaller balls, the ball speed is faster due to less air resistance. In many cases, the game ended with a hard blow. Once they introduced the current ball and the ball slowed down, the rally started to develop.

The fierce rally battle gets the crowd excited. It may not be the best thing to do, but when you look at it as a spectator, the excitement is certainly the reward of the rally, isn’t it?

It is up to the referee to decide whether or not it is hidden. It’s still a little over 15 years since the rule was revised. It may take a little more time for the rules to sink in throughout.

Table Tennis Racket Rules and Regulations

  • The color of both sides of the racket (rubber) is black and red.
  • Is the rubber properly applied to the racket?
  • At least 85% of the material of the racket should be natural wood
  • The maximum thickness of the rubber, including the adhesive layer, does not exceed 4.0 mm.
  • The surface of the rubber must be flat.
  • The gloss of the rubber surface does not exceed the standard
  • Auxiliary agents and organic solvent-based adhesives should not be used
  • The rubbers shouldn’t be stripped or partially removed
  • Table tennis rackets do not have a default size under international rules.

If you meet the above requirements, you are basically OK.
If you check with the referee and get an OK, you can use your own racket.

If you want to know about the rules for modification and processing of a racket and how far you are allowed to go then you should check out this article. We talked about everything in detail there.

What if I misunderstood the order of the serve?

If you miss the order of the serve in singles, it’s not so much. However, doubles is quite complicated, so an error in the order of the serve is likely to happen.

What if I notice an error in my turn during the rally?

If you notice an error in the order of your serve, the game will be stopped at that point. If it is during a rally, that point is considered a no count.

What if you find out after the point?

If you don’t even notice it during the rally and a few points later you notice an error in the order of your serve. All the points before the mistake are valid. As soon as you notice, the order of serve is corrected and resumed.


Here is the ITTF full rules and regulation Pdf. In case you want to know more you can check out the pdf and learn.

Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “Complete Table Tennis rules- know how to play ping pong in peace.”

Leave a Reply