A Basic Guide to Ping Pong Rules: Rule Book


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Table Tennis was once played exclusively by the upper class and has now turned into a popular international sport. This game is easy to learn and is extremely fun to play. All one needs is a table, a racquet, a ball and a net to get started with this game.

This game requires little space and financial investment and can be played anytime. There are certain rules that you must follow like all other sports. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) regulates the events and sets standard rules for the players to follow.

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Here is a basic guide to Ping Pong which will introduce you to the rules of the game.

Ping Pong Rules

A Basic Look at Ping Pong Rules

Get your basics right

You need to get your equipment right before you are set to learn the rules of this game. You need to have a table, a ball, a net, and paddles. As per the ITTF, the official table size used in the game of Ping Pong is 2.74 in length and 1.52m in width. The net is placed in the middle at a height of 15 ¼ cm.

The ball used in the game of table tennis is 40mm in diameter and weighs 2.7g. You would require two racquets for playing the game. One is for you and the other is for your opponent. The racquets can be of any size and the blade needs to be flat. It is usually made of 85 percent wood.

Do Check this post:- Top 5 Best Table Tennis Paddles for Beginners

Coin Toss

As per official rules laid down by the European Table Tennis Union, you must toss a coin before starting the game. If you win, you get to decide who serves first or the side of the table you would wish to play on.


When you choose to serve, you need to stand behind your side of the table. You have to throw the ball upwards and free your hand. You then hit the ball with the racquet so that it bounces anywhere on the side of the table you have chosen to play from. The ball has to clear the net and bounce anywhere on the side of the table your opponent. Once you are done serving twice, it is your opponent’s turn to serve. This is how you continue the game by alternating between two serves.

Scoring system

Once you are done serving, your opponent has to hit the ball back and forth. Either you or your opponent scores a point after each serve. This is dependent on who has kept the ball for the longest in the play. You also receive a point if your opponent fails to serve appropriately. You also score a point if your opponent fails to hit the ball back to your side of the table or let the ball bounce more than once on his or her side of the table. You also score if the opponent touches the ball with anything apart from his/her racquet or hits the ball twice in a row. Similarly, your opponent scores when you commit one of the above-mentioned mistakes.

It is a set when one of the players scores 11 points. When both the players score 10 equal points, a set is won by the first player who gains a lead of 2 points. A match is said to be won when a pair or player wins the best of an odd number of sets.

Doubling the fun

Table Tennis can be played with four players and this is known as doubles. The game of doubles is more or less similar to singles. The difference lies in the serving and the play. You and your teammate get to serve once and then your opponents follow the same. You keep alternating serves in this fashion as you do while playing singles. The major difference is that the ball needs to go to a specific side of the table while serving else your opponent will end up scoring a point. You need to serve from the right side of the table to the right side of your opponent’s part. You and your teammate must alternate for returning the ball. Your opponent scores a point if you and your teammate fail to hit alternately.

There are some terms that are often used while playing Ping Pong. The terms have been explained below for your better understanding.

  • Server: The player who serves the ball is referred to as the server
  • Receiver: The player who does not serves and receives the ball from a server
  • Rally: This is the term which is given to the passage in which the ball is “in play” during the course of the game
  • Let: Whenever a Rally or the passage of game ends up with nobody being awarded a point is referred to as a ‘let’.
  • Double Hit: Whenever a player strikes the ball twice deliberately
  • Obstruction: If a player touches the ball anything apart from their racquet such as their hands or with anything they are wearing
  • Overhit: A shot which never lands on the table and goes beyond the table
  • Penhold: This is a kind of manner in which a player holds his or her racquet. In this position of the hand, the player holds the racquet in a similar fashion while holding a pen
  • Shakehand: This is yet another way of holding a paddle. The hand position adopted here is the same while shaking hands with any person
  • Spin: This is a vital component of playing Ping Pong. This term is utilized by advanced players. Once you are done with learning how to serve and return the ball, your focus shifts towards making your shots better. This is when the term spin comes in. If you want to outsmart your opponent, you need to focus on spinning the ball while returning it to your opponent. The ball moves unpredictably when you spin it which makes it difficult for your opponent to hit back properly. There are three main components of spin: sidespin, backspin, and topspin. The spin which is used only while serving is referred to as corkspin. This makes the ball land oddly on your opponent’s side of the table.


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