Who would have thought that Olympic ping pong rules were so in depth. It's just ping pong, right? Wrong. Olympic ping pong rules rival the hefty procedures and regulations of most bigger name sports like basketball or baseball. Seriously. The Olympic ping pong rule book even has a constitution! The rule book has table tennis laws, regulations for international competition and anti-doping laws. Really, Olympic ping pong players dope up? Anyway, the rules for table tennis are very extensive. Here is an abridged version of Olympic ping pong rules.
- Serving. The person serving the ball has to toss the ball at least sixteen centimeters in the air from an open palm. The ball can't have any sort of spin on it and must strike the server's side of the table first, then hit the opponent's side. If the serve in some way appears to be awkward or against the rules, the umpire gives the server a warning, in which case the server must attempt another serve. If another mistake is made, a point is given to the receiver.
- Returning a serve. The returned serve has to go over the net and strike the server's court. The ball can make contact with the net, but it cannot make contact with the returner's court on the return strike.
- Order of play. Serving alternates between serves. After a point is scored, the previous returner becomes the scorer. This is unlike tennis, where the server serves the whole match and switches.
- A let. A let is when the game is stopped due to obstruction of the ball by players or the umpire and results in a point. Obstruction can be moving the table, messing up a serve or messing up a return. Anything that causes the game to be paused without the umpire stopping it is called a let.
- A point. Points are scored when an opponent can't serve and/or return a ball. If an opponent hits the ball out of bounds, can't get the ball over the net or a host of other things, the result is a point. These rules are very similar to tennis.
- Games. Olympic ping pong rules state the games are to be played to eleven points. A player has to beat his or her opponent by at least two points. If the game is scored 10 to 11, the player with 11 would have to score another point for the win.
- Match. The matches are done in a "best of" fashion. For example, the player that wins a best of five match is the first to win three games. The best of seven would be the player that wins four games.
- The expedite system. If an Olympic ping pong game takes too long, both parties involved can request an expedite system of play. If a single game takes longer than ten minutes, the expedite system kicks in. It cannot be used, however, if at least 18 total points have been scored. If the expedite system has to be introduced, each player will serve for one point then switch until the game is completed.