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The Rules of Table Tennis... and Ping Pong

The Rules of Table Tennis... and Ping Pong

Is this your first time at the table tennis table? Here are the rules you need to know so you spend more time playing and less time talking.And if you don't play in a club, feel free to adapt them to create a game that suits you. Provided that all players are following the same rules, you can reinvent them as much as you like.

Where



In the garden

More often than not, your first encounter with a table tennis ball will be in the garden. Here, it doesn't really matter what the rules are, as long as all players are sticking to the same ones.

In your home

More often than not, your first encounter with a table tennis ball will be in the garden. Here, it doesn't really matter what the rules are, as long as all players are sticking to the same ones.

If it's raining or if there isn't enough space, you can still have fun hitting a ball about by playing indoors on a small table tennis table or with a rollnet set up on your dining room table.


Who wins the match?

Are you female? You win the match if you're the first to win 3 games of 11 points.

Are you male? You win the match if you're the first to win 4 games of 11 points.


What you have to do...

...When serving

The ball has to bounce on each side of the net. If it touches the net, it is a "let" and the player serves again. Diagonal serves are only obligatory in doubles. In singles, you can serve wherever you like.Each player has two consecutive serves. At 10 all, the players only serve once each time.The bat and ball must be above the table and behind the end line.The player who is serving must hold the ball in a flat and open hand, and toss it upwards at least 16 cm. The toss must be vertical. The ball must always be visible.If the player fails to comply with any of these rules, they lose the point.

... After serving

After serving, the receiver (the player returning the ball) must let it bounce once on their side of the net.
They must return the ball straight back to the other player's side, without hitting the net.
Touching the net has no effect on the game provided that the ball then bounces on the opponent's side.
Likewise, touching the edge of the table does not affect the game; the same as when it touches the net, the ball must still be played by the receiving player.
These rules apply throughout the rally until the end of the point.

... In doubles

There are three rules to add to those mentioned above:

Serves are always diagonal, from the server's right-hand box to the receiver's right-hand box.

The two players on each team must take it in turns to play the ball.

All players must serve twice, taking it in turns. Player A1 serves twice to player B1. Player B1 serves twice to player A2. Player A2 serves twice to player B2. Player B2 serves twice to player A1, and so on.


What you don't do...

... During the match

Players will lose the point in any of the following cases:

The player lets the ball bounce more than once on their own side,

Their bat touches the ball several times on the same shot,

The ball doesn't touch their opponent's side of the table,

The player moves the table while playing,

The player touches the table with their free hand,

The player volleys a ball,

The player hits the ball and it bounces on the side of the table.


Cool as a cucumber

One last bit of advice before you pick up your bat: keep your cool!

When you start, you may even find it difficult to return the ball on the table. Over your first two or three sessions, try to do a few rallies without aiming to score. "Keep it in play," as they say. Don't try to move on too quickly to smashes, top spins and other technical skills, as you'll probably just annoy yourself and your partner. Your first aim should be to stay calm as you return the ball. You'll soon be making headway and, when you first step through the door of your local table tennis club, you'll learn that keeping a cool head is often what makes the difference in a match.

In the meantime, don't forget that all of the rules on this page are standard table tennis rules If you're playing anywhere other than at a club or competition, feel free to adapt them to create your own game!


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