Table Tennis Rules: The Basics You Need to Know

First time playing table tennis? Sounds like you need a breakdown of the rules! While table tennis is a fairly simple sport, there are quite a few table tennis rules that new players are unaware of. So let us help dispel the rumors and provide the basic ping pong rules to get you started!

How do you score in table tennis

  • Each game is first to 11 points
  • If both players are tied at 10-10, you continue the game until one player reaches a 2-point lead
  • Most matches are best of 5 games, however, best of 3 and best of 7 games are also common
  • Swap ends after each game
  • If you’re tied up going into the final game, swap ends as soon as a player reaches 5 points

Ping Pong Serving Rules

  • You must strike the ball so that it bounces once on your side, and then at least once on your opponent’s side of the table
  • You can serve anywhere on the table
  • Each player serves twice before switching unless the score reaches 10-10, at which point the server switches every point
  • The first serve switches to the opposing player after each game
  • If the ball strikes the net during a serve and it is otherwise legal, a let point is called and you replay the point
  • No second serves, this isn’t tennis!

How to Do a Legal Ping Pong Serve

  • Throw the ball at least 16 cm vertically into the air from an open palm
  • Throw the ball behind the back line and above the surface of the table
  • Do not hide the ball during the serve with your arm or any other body part

Rules for Serving in Doubles

  • You must serve diagonally from the right-hand side of your court to the right-hand side of your opponent’s court.
  • The serving team decides who serves first, and in the first game the receiving team decides who will receive first
  • Each player receives twice, serves twice, and then swaps with their partner so that they can receive twice

Other Doubles Rules in Table Tennis

  • You must alternate between striking the ball with your partner after every hit
  • If you’re tied up going into the final game, swap ends when one team reaches 5 points, and also have the pair receiving the serve swap roles 

And that’s all the basic table tennis rules you need to know! We won’t bore you with any of the technical stuff. Time to get playing! Best of luck!

How to play table tennis and other questions around the basics of pingpong rules