Rules Of Ping Pong
The official rules of ping pong, or table tennis as it is sometimes called, are set by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). It is the official governing body for all ping pong competitive matches and establishes the rules of the game.
- The Center Line. It is the white line in the middle that divides the table into two parts. This is only relevant if playing doubles. If you are playing a singles game, the center line becomes irrelevant.
- The Racket. The official ping pong rulebook states that your racket, or paddle, must be flat and rigid with a red and a black side. The side primarily used for striking the ball must be covered with either sandwich rubber or ordinary pimple rubber, with the pimples sticking out.
- Scoring. A competitive match can be played as either best three of five games, best four of seven or best five of nine. The rule is the player that reaches eleven points first wins with at least a lead of two points.
- First Dibs. The opportunity to serve first at the start of a match is dictated by drawing a lot. This means doing the old school coin toss or drawing straws. The winner gets the right to choose whether to serve first or receive.
- Switching Serves. You and your opponent are given two serves in a row before switching. Similar to tennis and its 90 mph ace serves, a game of ping pong can sometimes be won by an excellent serve with a powerful spin. In case of a 10-10 tie for game point, serves are minimized to only one serve each and players must then switch sides on the table.
- A Good Serve. For a ping pong serve to count, the rule is to hold the ball on your free hand with an open palm. You must throw the ball upwards at least 16 cm and on its way down hit it with your racket. To be a good serve, the ball must first bounce on your side of the table, clear the net and then bounce into your opponent’s court. It can land on either side of his table. However, when playing doubles, the rule is for the ball to strike only the right half of your table and then your opponent’s.
- A Good Return. A good return in ping pong entails striking the ball so it bounces back into your opponent’s side of the court after clearing the net.
- Rally. A singles game in ping pong is straightforward-you serve, your opponent returns. In doubles, the order of play for a rally is different. Each player must hit the ball alternately. Unlike tennis wherein anyone in a doubles game can strike the ball back into the other court, in ping pong the rules are stricter. You serve, your opponent returns, then your partner returns and the other person’s doubles partner does the same, and so on until someone scores a point.
- A Let. A rally becomes a let if the ball touches the net during a service. The server is then given another chance to serve. A let also occurs if your opponent is not ready and does not make any attempt to return the ball. Lastly, once a disturbance to the play occurs that is beyond the player’s control.
- Scoring a Point. You can score a point in a number of ways: if you make a service that your opponent is unable to return; if you return a ball that your opponent is unable to strike back; if he makes a failed service; if he strikes the ball two consecutive times; if he, or any material on his body, touches the net or the ping pong table; or if he hits the ball with any other part of the racket than those specified under the ITTF rules.