table tennis rules title

OBJECTIVE OF TABLE TENNIS: Earn more points than the opponent by striking the ball across the table so that the opponent cannot strike it back.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or 4 players, 1 or 2 on each team 

MATERIALS: 1 paddle per player, 1 ball, 1 table tennis table, 1 net




table tennis gameplay

The official rules for table tennis, or ping pong rules, are fast-paced, where two teams hit a small plastic ball back and forth across a table. Much like tennis, it can be played as singles or doubles. And as the name suggests, the game is played atop a table. Table tennis is an Olympic sport that is also played recreationally by many all around the world.


table tennis setup court

Table tennis is played atop a table tennis table. This table is 5-foot by 9-foot with a small net across the width of the table in the middle. The net essentially divides the table into the two team sides. There is also a white line that divides the table in half longways.


table tennis rules gameplay

A table tennis game starts with one team serving and the other team receiving. Table tennis matches consist of the best three out of five games. The two teams will switch sides after each game until a winner is declared.


To begin serving, the table tennis ball should sit on the player’s hand on an open palm. Then the player throws the ball into the air at least 6 inches and strikes the ball from behind the end line of the table. When the paddle hits the ball, the ball must first bounce on the server’s side of the table, then over the net, before bouncing on the opponent’s side.

Keep in mind that the ball must never be obscured during a serve.


Each team serves twice until a point is scored before the ball is passed onto the opposing team to serve. The serves alternate between the two teams, two points at a time until there is a winner.


If the ball hits the net during a serve but the ball hit still bounces on the opponent’s end of the table, this point is called a let. A let needs to be replayed. However, if the ball hits the net and doesn’t make it to the other side of the table, the receiving team gets one point.


In a game, if the two teams reach 10 points each, this is called a deuce. From this point onwards, the serving rules change. Instead of serving twice in a row, each team will serve once.


Whereas in a singles game, the serve can land anywhere on the opponent’s table, in doubles, the serve must go from right court to right court. This is to prevent the partners from getting tangled up before they are even able to hit the ball back. The two team members must switch places after serving twice. These matches follow the same basic rules of table tennis rules for single play.


Once a ball is successfully served, the ball will be in play, also called a rally. The two teams will alternate hitting the ball across the table until a point is scored.

In order to properly return a serve, the receiving team must hit the ball before the ball bounces twice on their side of the table. Although when serving, the ball must first bounce on the server’s side of the table before bouncing to the receiver’s side, in a rally, the ball must hit the paddle and bounce straight onto the opponent’s end of the table.

The rally continues until a point is scored.


If a ball hits the net during a rally, play continues as normal as long as the ball then bounces on the opposing team’s side of the table. it is totally legal for the ball to travel under the net assembly.


No matter where the ball lands on the table, the partners in a doubles game must alternate hitting the table tennis ball one after the other.


The most basic way to score a point in table tennis is for the opposing team to miss the ball. During a volley, the players will have the ball bouncing back and forth between the two teams, but if after the ball hits the opposing team’s playing surface, the opposing player is unable to hit the ball back, the team that hit the ball will gain a point.

However, if you hit too hard and the table tennis ball doesn’t bounce on the opposing side of the table and the opponent misses the ball, the opponent gets the point.

Here are the other ways to gain points in table tennis:

  • If the opposing team hits the ball into the table tennis net and it bounces back to their side of the table.
  • If the ball bounces twice on the opponent’s half of the table.
  • If the opponent valleys the ball by hitting the ball before the ball touches their side of the table surface.
  • If the opponent accidentally moves the table during play.


Each table tennis game is played to 11 points, but the winning team must win by at least a two point lead. Table tennis matches consist of the best three out of five games.