Rules of Table Tennis - Short Version
For full table tennis rules please see the International Table Tennis Federation Website.
These rules will help you get play underway and are based on the ITTF rule book.
- Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point
- if his opponent fails to make a good service;
- if his opponent fails to make a good return;
- if, after he has made a good service or a good return, the ball touches anything other than the net assembly before being struck by his opponent;
- if the ball passes beyond his end line without touching his court, after being struck by his opponent;
- if his opponent obstructs the ball;
- if his opponent strikes the ball twice successively;
- if his opponent strikes the ball with a side of the racket blade or anything his opponent wears or carries, or moves the playing surface;
- if his opponent, or anything his opponent wears or carries, touches the net assembly;
- if his opponent's free hand touches the playing surface;
- if a doubles opponent strikes the ball out of the sequence established by the first server and first receiver;
A Let- if in service the ball, in passing over or around the net assembly, touches it, provided the service is otherwise good or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his partner;
- if the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his partner attempts to strike the ball;
- if failure to make a good service or a good return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player;
- if play is interrupted by the umpire or assistant umpire.
- Play may be interrupted
- to correct an error in the order of serving, receiving or ends;
- because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally
A Good Service- Service shall start with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the server's stationary free hand.
- The server shall then project the ball near vertically upwards, without imparting spin, so that it rises at least 16cm after leaving the palm of the free hand and then falls without touching anything before being struck.
- As the ball is falling the server shall strike it so that it touches first his court and then, after passing over or around the net assembly, touches directly the receiver's court; in doubles, the ball shall touch successively the right half court of server and receiver.
- From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server's end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver by any part of the body or clothing of the server or his doubles partner; as soon as the ball has been projected, the server’s free arm shall be removed from the space between the server’s body and the net.
The Game- A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 11 points unless both players or pairs score 10 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points.
A Match- A match shall consist of the best of any odd number of games.
The Order of Serving, Receiving and Ends- The right to choose the initial order of serving, receiving and ends shall be decided by lot and the winner may choose to serve or to receive first or to start at a particular end.
- When one player or pair has chosen to serve or to receive first or to start at a particular end, the other player or pair shall have the other choice.
- After each 2 points have been scored the receiving player or pair shall become the serving player or pair and so on until the end of the game, unless both players or pairs score 10 points or the expedite system is in operation, when the sequences of serving and receiving shall be the same but each player shall serve for only 1 point in turn.
- In each game of a doubles match, the pair having the right to serve first shall choose which of them will do so and in the first game of a match the receiving pair shall decide which of them will receive first; in subsequent games of the match, the first server having been chosen, the first receiver shall be the player who served to him in the preceding game.
- In doubles, at each change of service the previous receiver shall become the server and the partner of the previous server shall become the receiver.
- The player or pair serving first in a game shall receive first in the next game of the match and in the last possible game of a doubles match the pair due to receive next shall change their order of receiving when first one pair scores 5 points.
- The player or pair starting at one end in a game shall start at the other end in the next game of the match and in the last possible game of a match the players or pairs shall change ends when first one player or pair scores 5 points.
Out of Order Of Serving, Receiving or Ends- If a player serves or receives out of turn, play shall be interrupted by the umpire as soon as the error is discovered and shall resume with those players serving and receiving who should be server and receiver respectively at the score that has been reached, according to the sequence established at the beginning of the match and, in doubles, to the order of serving chosen by the pair having the right to serve first in the game during which the error is discovered.
- If the players have not changed ends when they should have done so, play shall be interrupted by the umpire as soon as the error is discovered and shall resume with the players at the ends at which they should be at the score that has been reached, according to the sequence established at the beginning of the match.
- In any circumstances, all points scored before the discovery of an error shall be reckoned.