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Table Tennis Ping Pong Rules


The rules for the Olympic Sport of Table Tennis are standarised worldwide, as follows:



At the start of a game, players flip a coin (or hide the ball in their hand under the table with opponent choosing a hand). The player who wins choice may choose to serve first or receive first, or which side to start on.



Games are 21 point. A player must win by 2 points, so sometimes the game continues past 21 points until someone gets a 2-point lead. Matches are usually best 2 out of 3. Players switch sides as soon as one player scores 10 points.



A point is scored whenever a player fails to make a legal return. A legal return means the ball is returned over the net and hits the opponent’s side of the table. The ball may not touch anything a player wears or carries other than the racket.



The main points of the service rules are as follows:

  • Ball must be in the flat palm of the hand, fingers together, thumb free.
  • Ball must be tossed at least six inches high from hand (same height as net, for reference), and nearly vertical upward.
  • Ball must be contacted on the drop.
  • Ball must hit first the server’s side of the table, then the receiver’s side of the table.
  • Throughout serve, both ball and racket must be above the table surface, and behind the endline or its imaginary extension.
  • No spin may be imparted to the ball from the hand.
  • A serve begins as soon as the ball leaves the hand. If the server misses the ball entirely on the serve, it is a lost point.



Throughout a game, players alternate serving five times in a row. The major exception is after deuce (20-20), when players alternate serves until someone wins by 2 points.