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Rules of Table Tennis

A guide to the official rules and regulations of table tennis with scoring and service rules. Check out the player tactics and equipment list used in the fast and furious game of UK Ping Pong Rules.

BASIC PING PONG RULES: Table Tennis was in fact born in England. It first originated at the end of the 19th century as a Victorian after-dinner parlour game.

Even so, it has been an Olympic sport since 1988 and made its official debut in the Commonwealth Games of 2002.

The game of ‘Ping Pong‘ (aptly named because of the sound of the ball on early bats) gets played internationally all around the world.

Without doubt, the popularization of table tennis occurs most throughout Asia. In particular, it is a very popular game played in China.

The rules of table tennis witness 70mph breathtaking smashes and awe-inspiring heavy top-spin lobs. There is no disputing that the Chinese players are a dominant force in table tennis championship tournaments.

Rules for Table Tennis

Aim of playing Table Tennis Game

The principle aim or objective of the game is to outmaneuver your opponent. Tactical goals include making them hit the ping pong ball into the net, off the table, or miss it completely.

Table Tennis Table

The rectangular table used in ping pong rules is usually blue or green with marked edges (lines). A 15.25cm (6 inch) net gets stretched across its width in the center bisecting the table into two halves.

As a rule, a table tennis table should measure 2.74 meters long (9 feet) by 76cm (30 inches) high and 1.52 meters (5 feet) wide.

Equipment Regulations of Table Tennis

Table tennis used to be an improvised game on a basic table using books for both the net and the bats. Hence, there is very little equipment needed to play the game.

Of course, players will play according to the official ITTF Table Tennis Rules Book. That means they use a 40mm diameter white or orange table tennis ball which weighs 2.7g.

The rackets, red on one side and black on the other, are also called bats in the United Kingdom or ‘paddles‘ in the USA.

Ping Pong Regulations of Players

Singles rules play is a game of one player against one other. Whereas two players compete against two more in the table tennis doubles rules version. An informal version often pits two against one – mostly played in family holiday games.

General Table Tennis Regulations

  • According to basic table tennis rules and regulations, tossing a coin (or lot-drawing) determines which player will serve first.
  • Each player serves twice in turn. The service must get made from an open palm.
  • The ball gets tossed around six inches and then struck so it bounces on the service side. It should clear the net and then bounce on the receiver’s half of the table.
  • As a rule (since the change in 2001) table tennis is now played over a pre-agreed number of games.
  • The first to 11 points wins each game (if won by two clear points).
  • If the points tally reaches 10-10 each player serves once only, but in turn. That continues until one player establishes a two point lead to win the game.
  • Players alternate playing from opposite ends of the table. Thus, serving the ball first (and then receiving) after the first game.
  • They should swap ends after either player reaches five points in the deciding game of a match.

Scoring in Table Tennis Rules UK

Scoring points is usually achieved by forcing your opponent into making mistakes. That means hitting the ball long or wide of the table or into the net. It can also include you playing a shot which they are unable to return at all.

Table Tennis Service Rules

When you are serving the ball, your opponent wins the point if you fail to make a legal serve. That happens if it does not bounce on your side of the table first before clearing the net.

A ‘let‘ gets played if it hits the net followed by a bounce on their side (player reserves the ball). You are not allowed to volley or obstruct the ball in table tennis.

Any double hit results in the point getting awarded to your opponent. The basic rules of table tennis UK and official regulations are clear on this ruling. They state that the edges of the table (lines) are ‘in play‘ but the flat part at the side is not.

Table Tennis Umpires and Officials

There should be an umpire appointed to control a match with one assistant umpire. His or her appointment is to assist the officiating of certain decisions in the game.

Winning a Game of Table Tennis

Winning a table tennis match means you are the first player to reach the allotted number of games. In most rules of ping pong that means the best of three, four, or five games in total (sometimes 7 or 9).

Advanced Table Tennis Rules


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