Table Tennis or Ping-pong is an indoor sport which is played between 2 players (or pairs in case of doubles) in which a lightweight ball is moved across the table with small bats. As an international sport, Table Tennis has been governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) since 1926. Table Tennis is an Olympic sport since 1988. The official of Table Tennis Rules are specified in the ITTF handbook which is revised annually and changes (if any) are generally implemented from 1st January.
However, as a beginner, you need to know just some basic rules before starting to play the game. So let us get into some basic Table Tennis Rules
Table Tennis Rules and Regulations
Table Tennis Rules Scoring
The aim while playing the game is to hit the ball over the net onto the opposite side of the table. If the opponent is unable to return the ball back, a point is awarded to you (or pair in case of doubles). The point will be awarded if the opponent misses the ball or hit the ball but the ball does not land on your side of the table, or the ball is stuck in the net. However, if the ball lands on your side after touching the net, it will be counted as a fair return. Also, the opponent is not allowed to touch the ball before it lands on his side of the table. Otherwise, a point will be awarded to you.
Table Tennis Rules of Serving
The game is started with one player serving the ball every time a point is scored. Who goes first can be decided by a toss. Service in the game of Table Tennis must follow certain rules:
- The ball is held freely on an open palm behind the end line of the table.
- Before touching the bat, the ball must be tossed in the air at least 6 ft above the palm and hit above the level of the table.
- The ball must take the first bounce on the server’s side of the table followed by a second bounce on the opponent’s side.
- Also, the ball must pass cleanly over the net – if it ‘clips’ the net and goes over, it is a ‘let’, and the service is retaken.
If the ball hits the net and doesn’t go over or the ball fails to land on both sides of the table then a point is awarded to the other player/team.
Table Tennis Rules Singles
In the singles game, each player serves the ball twice and then the service is switched to the opponent. This pattern is violated only during the extended time (explained later) of play when the service is switched after each serve. Also, the service can be both diagonal or straight in a singles game.
Table Tennis Rules Doubles
In a doubles game, the Service must be diagonal, from the right half court to the opponent’s right half-court.
Service changeover in Doubles is as follows:
- The first player serving the ball is A1 and;
- A1 serves to B1 (2 services)
- Then B1 serves to A2 (2 services)
- followed by A2 serving to B2 (2 services)
- and finally, B2 serves to A1 (2 services)
Rotation rules for doubles
In doubles, players hit the ball alternately with the partner. So, A1 serves the ball to B1, who returns the ball. Then A2 hits the ball and B2 returns it. Or A1 hits and B2 returns then A2 hits and B1 returns….and so on.
How to play a Table Tennis match
A Table Tennis game is played till one player (or a pair in case of doubles) scores 11 points and the other player scores less than 10 points. If the score reaches 10-10 then it is named as deuce. In such a scenario, the game extends until one of the players (or pair) scores 2 consecutive points. The winner of a game is the one who scores 11 points first or the one who scores consecutive points in an extended game.
Generally, a match consists of 3 or 5 or 7 games and the first to win 2 or 3 or 4 respectively is victorious.
The Table Tennis bat should have a red and a black side. The ball can be either orange or white, 40 mm in diameter. The length of the table should be 2.74 meters while the width and the height should be 1.525 m and 0.76 m respectively. The net at the separation of 2 halves is 15.25 cm high.
TT Basic Tips
Never hold the bat too tight:
Holding the bat tightly will restrict your wrist motion. It will hard to switch from forehand to backhand.
Take the optimal distance from the table:
Do Not stand too close to the table as it will make it difficult for you to return the ball landing close to the end of the table.
Both legs square to the table
Keeping a stable stance is really important while playing table tennis. For a right-hander, you can keep your right leg a little back relative to the left one. And vice-versa for left-handers.
Do Not hit balls too hard
Power is the last thing you would want to do while playing Table Tennis. It is a game of technique and reflexes. Your focus should always be on the ball placement and control.
Practice Practice Practice
Table Tennis is a very fast sport which asks for a lot of practice. The only way to achieve a stable technique and control on the ball is by making a muscle memory with the bat. Keep practicing and keep playing.