Olympic Table Tennis Rules
Olympic Table Tennis Rules are governed by the International Table Tennis Federation, which sets the standard for Table Tennis globally. The rules for Olympic Table Tennis matches are the same for any official Table Tennis Match, and the regulations include standards for the table/playing surface, net assembly, ball, and rackets. Additionally, specific rules define what is and is not a point, as well as when the umpire will interrupt the game play, and what happens in special circumstances, but the following will provide a basic overview of the main rules necessary to follow a table tennis match in the Olympics.
- A good table tennis serve starts with the ball resting on the open palm of the free hand. The server tosses the ball upward, without spinning it, at least 16cm above the palm, then strikes it with his or her racket as it begins to fall. The ball must touch the server's side of the playing surface, then bounce over the net assembly and touch the receiver's side of the playing surface.
- A good return in table tennis is when the receiver waits until the ball touches his or her playing surface once, then he or she strikes the ball with the racket. The player, at the start of a match or if he changes his racket mid-match, must present the racket to his opponent and the umpire for inspection. When striking the ball, the player cannot hit with the blade or edge of the racket, only with the flat playing surface.
- In table tennis, the order of play is basically an alternation between players. If the match is a single, one-on-one match, then one player serves, the other returns, then they alternate returns until a point is scored. In a doubles or team match, one player serves, the opponent returns, then the next player returns, then the next opponent returns, and so forth allowing everyone a hit in a specific order. Once the sequence is established, if a player takes a turn out of sequence a point goes to the other team.
- A table tennis match consists of an odd number of games, so a "best out of" type match. Typically this could be best three out of five, or five out of nine, or other odd numbered match. The winner, or winning team, will be first to score eleven points and have a two-point lead over the opponent or opposing team. If both teams reach ten points, the match is continued until there is a two-point lead.