9 Basic Ping Pong Rules and Facts that Will Surely Make You Win

9 Basic Ping Pong Rules and Facts that Will Surely Make You Win

Ping pong is just as familiar to us as tennis, badminton, and golf. In fact, it looks like it’s the easiest game to play among them all but in reality, there’s more to it than what the eye can see. Ping pong or officially called as table tennis is definitely a competitive sport despite the many contentions. It is just as much of a sport as tennis and badminton. It requires a whole lot of control and stamina as those of other games of its kind. Now Let’s learn more about ping pong rules.

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Ping Pong Rules #1. Game Basics

The International Table Tennis Federation or ITTF standardized all of the equipment used in playing table tennis. This way, a fair play will always be observed across the globe and among nations playing the sport.

The Ping Pong table

The table has to be rectangular. It must be horizontally aligned standing exactly at 76 cm (30 inches) above the floor. It must measure at 9 feet (2.74m) long and 5 feet (1.525) wide.It must be tested to yield an average of 23 cm (9 inches) uniform bounce once a ping pong ball is dropped on the surface from a height of 30 cm.


The color has to be dark matte green. The sidelines should be white in color and must also only 2 cm thick. It lines 2 cm off the edges of the table, halfway through the table and also quarter through.The lines will divide the table into two equal courts. A net is vertically stood over the central white line. The net is actually considered as part of both half courts. The net should stand about 15.25 cm high above the playing surface.

The Ping Pong ball

The ping pong ball is a hollow light ball that easily bounces off the playing court. However, it also has a standard weight and size that has to be followed to the very last decimal.


This small ball has to follow a 40mm diameter. It also should weigh exactly 2.7 grams. It is actually made of plastic, celluliod to be more specific. And if you notice, you can only see two colors of ping pong balls, it is either white or just orange.

The Racket

The racket measurements or size doesn’t follow a strict rule of play compared to the ball and the table. The racket can follow any solid shape or size or weight but it must follow the standards of the sport’s blade. The wooden face has to be flat and sturdy.


The blade has to be covered entirely with rubber sheets. It does cut off right by the handle. The front blade rubber sheet is color red while the back blade is black.As long as your blades rubber surface is not completely damaged or intentionally varied, it is allowed. But once the rubber sheet has already aged and chipped, it must be replaced.

Ping Pong Rules #2. Scoring

Similar to all other games there are ping pong rules that either counts the end of a rally a point or a let.

Let Rule 1.

A let is counted when the server hits the ball towards the net. When the ball touches the net, it’s not counted as a point.

Let Rule 2.

A rally is considered a let to penalize a player.

Let Rule 3.

Errors can be made with regard to serving, receiving or ending a rally. If an error must be corrected, the rally is considered as a let.

Let Rule 4.

If a disturbance caused a player not to give a good return, service or strike then the rally is considered as a let.

Let Rule 5.

If there are outside factors that happen to disturb a rally that may affect the outcome of the game, the rally is dubbed as a let.

Point Rule 1.

If your opponent fails to give a good service or a good return, you earn a point.

Point Rule 2.

If you and your opponent have a good rally going on and once you strike the ball and touches anything other than the net assembly before your opponent hits the ball, you earn a point.

Point Rule 3.

If your opponent obstructs a ball, you earn a point.

Point Rule 4.

If your opponent strikes the ball twice while in his own court, you earn a point.

Point Rule 5.

You earn a point when your opponent or anything he has with him moves the surface or the entire table during a rally.

Point Rule 6.

It’s your point when your opponent hits the racquet blade with an illegal surface.

Point Rule 7.

It’s your point when your opponent touches the net assembly.

Point Rule 8.

You get the point when your opponent hits the ball with his free hand.

Point Rule 9.

In doubles, if your opponent strikes the ball out of sequence played by the first server and the first receiver

Point Rule 10.

After an assessment and the umpire penalizes your opponent, you earn a point.

The winning point!

You will only win if you and your partner earn 11 points first. But if you score 10 points with at least 2 points in the lead, you and your partner win the game. An entire match comprises of 5 games. It is earning the win by getting the bet out of five games.

In summary, you need to win 3 games to win the match and in every game, you have to be the first to hit 11 points or get 10 points with a two-point margin.

Ping Pong Rules # 3. End or Serve

A lot is drawn to decide which player goes on which side and who serves first. If you end up winning the lot, you can choose which side to pay first and whether or not you’re going to serve or let your opponent to serve the ball.

Ping Pong Rules # 4. The Serve

Before the game, each player must present their racket to the umpire for inspection. It can be any size, any shape or any weight as long as it is made of 85% natural wood. The blade should also be flat and rigid with a rubber matting on both sides complying with the two-color rule or red and black.

  • Every serve must always begin with the ball lying freely on your flat open palm.
  • Throw the ball directly upwards up to at least a 16 cm or 6 inches.
  • Strike the ball onto your home court bouncing over the net assembly and onto your opponent’s half court.
  • Commence play.

Every after two games, the server and the receiver switches roles in serving the ball. In doubles, you and your partner take turns in serving as well.

Ping Pong Rules # 5. The Match

A game doesn’t last too long. This is why ping pong is fun and entertaining because of how quickly the game commences.

In a rally, you must make sure that you strike the ball over the net bouncing over your opponent’s half court. If you make a good return and hit the white line, it is a good return. But if you strike your ball through the sides of the table then you will end up giving your opponent a point.

When your ball hits the net during a rally and crosses over or around your opponent’s court, you earn a point. BUT, when you are serving the ball and it touches the net bounces to your opponent’s court, you need to replay the serve. If it touches the net and bounces back to your court, the point is awarded to your opponent.

Ping Pong Rules # 6. The Doubles Rally

If you draw the pick for the first serve, you and your partner decide who serves first.

Once the ball is in play, you and your partner have to take turns in receiving the ball. Failure to do so means that you will lose a point.

Every after a game, players must alternate in serving and receiving the ball. If you served first, you let your partner receive the ball. After the game finishes, it is your partner who will serve the ball and it would be your turn to receive it.

Ping Pong Rules # 7. Expedite System

This is a rule that was imposed on table tennis to lessen the time of play and speed up the pace of a match. This rule came about to control the length of a rally. Table tennis was able to produce weird rallies or games way before the Expedite System was implemented.

In the 1936 World Championships for the Swaythling Cup in Prague produced one of the most infuriating table tennis rallies. It took Poland’s Alex Ehrlich and Romania’s Paneth Farcas two hours and 12 minutes on their first rally to win a point.

The Daily Mirror reported that the players exchanged the ball for over 12,000 times. Ehrlich got lost in the game that he ended up using a backhand instead of pushing the ball to his opponent’s forehand made him earn his first point and the match’s first point as well.

When the match was getting too overbearing for both the players, Ehrlich devised a plan to distract and disturb Farcas’ gameplay. He asked his friends to play chess by the playing area where he was shouting his chess moves while playing against Farcas.

Farcas was infuriated and insulted that he threw his paddle towards Ehrlich and gave up on the game giving Ehrlich the default win.​

This isn’t the only weird and an excruciatingly long game of ping pong. In the 1973 Swaythling Cup in Saravejo produced a 5-hour ping pong rally between China and Japan. The Japanese player dropped on the floor and China’s Li Ching-Kuang stroke her winning shot.

On top of the Guinness list for the longest excruciating match in the history of table tennis’ male singles match lasted from May 29 to 31 in 1971. Yes! It was a three-day match! Graham Shires and Peter Shaw played for 59 hours and 30 minutes just for one rally! You can already conceive a baby long before the game ever finished. You’d probably have gone to check in on your nana’s and came back after the weekend and still find them playing the same rally.​

​Because of all those lengthy games, the ITTF decided to cut a game after the match hits 10 minutes or when a total of 18 points have been awarded to the match, whichever comes first. Actually, you and your opponent can even activate it yourself as long as both of your makes the request.

Once the Expedite System is activated, you and your opponent will serve the ball every after each game and not every after two games. A point will immediately be awarded to the first player making 13 consecutive good returns.

Ping Pont Rules # 8. Breaks

After every game, players are allowed to rest for only 1 minute.The umpire allows players for a towel break after every 6 points from the start of a game. A player, a team or an advisor can call for a one-minute timeout by signaling the umpire with a ‘T’ sign using the hands.

The umpire can only suspend a game up to 10 minutes in cases of medical attention. If there are any injuries incurred during a play like a fall then you or your opponent may be given medical attention. The game commences after the 10-minute suspension or after you receive your medical treatment, whichever comes first.

If in case you find yourself bleeding, the umpire suspends the game until you receive medical treatment and any blood splatters are all cleaned up.

No player is allowed to leave the playing area. You have to stay around under the supervision of the umpire.

Ping Pong Rules # 9. Misdemeanor

Hot tempered players and advisors are not permitted in the playing area. Misbehavior refers to offensive language, tantrums, kicking, hitting, or disrespecting the match officials are considered as misbehaviors. This is to discipline the players and preventing unfair treatment between players, spectators and match officials.

Once you misbehave, you are flashed a yellow card. This also applies to anyone in the playing area. If anyone poses a distraction that can lead to the favoring of a certain player then that person may be warned with a yellow card or kicked off with a red card.

An offensive player or team earning 3 penalty points will compel the umpire to suspend the play and report to the referee.

For any serious offense like extremely abusive language and imminent physical threats, the referee has the power to disqualify a player from the match, an event or even the entire competition. It can even lead to the USATT (United States of America Table Tennis) Disciplinary Committee or any disciplinary committee for that matter to deal with the abusive player.

The FACTs of the PING PONG

Fact # 1. Origin of Ping Pong

Everybody knows that ping pong is a favorite Chinese game, but in reality, it didn’t actually sprout in China.It was actually born in England as a past time for the elites around the 1880’s. The Victorian elites would often have their tea or any form of getting together and start playing table tennis.

Their paddles were only lids of cigar boxes and the net was composed of a line of books, the ball was simply a small rubber ball or any champagne cork. It was a fun pastime during the winter because it was just too cold to play lawn tennis out in the cold. So bringing the game inside in a smaller version of lawn tennis, Whiff Whaff came about.

Fact # 2. The name Ping Pong

Whiff Whaff became a popular indoor game. It immediately spread as a fun past time and even garnered other monickers like Flim Flam or Gossamer. But the more popular name of Ping Pong stuck.It became so popular that it quickly spread and evolved to become an international sport. The game was redefined when Asian countries began to dominate Ping pong.

When the Japanese came to play, they introduced the foam paddle and also ‘spinning’ which made the game more fun and interesting. As Ping Pong rules progressed and were standardized in the 1900s, the Chinese took hold of the reigns and dominated the sport along with other Asian nations like Korea.

Fact 3. Ping Pong Terminologies

Before going into the basics of table tennis, let’s talk about words that we have to know first.

Ping Pong. Ping pong stuck because of the sound the ball makes. Funny enough, the Chinese name for table tennis is ‘Ping Pong Qui’. It didn’t really originate in China. It became so popular even before China came to know of the game.

Most people actually thought that table tennis was otherwise known as ping pong because that’s how it’s called in the Chinese language. We actually thought that it because it has become a sport that is closely tied to the Chinese community that it is a popular moniker was from its Chinese name.

Rally. This is what they call a game where the ball is in play. An entire game is composed of plenty of rallies.

Let. This is when a point is not scored or disqualified.

Strike. This is when a player hits the ball with the racquet.

Obstruct. When the ball touches any part of the player’s body or anything else on the player that isn’t the racquet.

Server. The first person to hit the ball in play.

Receiver. The player who strikes the ball.

Umpire. Technically, it’s what they call the referee in a ping pong game. The umpire also has an assistant umpire to help him making calls or judgments on whether to give a point or disqualify a point.

Court. The court is the entire playing board or table. The half court refers to your side of the table and your opponent’s side of the table divided by the net.

Racquet hand. The hand holding the racquet.

Freehand. The hand not holding the racquet.


Ping pong is often underrated by many spectators but this is a true sport that really requires a lot of skill, discipline, and even personal style. Ping pong is the most unique of all the racket games because it allows each player to develop their own style of playing and even customize their own equipment for the sake of a totally awesome and better play.

As a ping pong athlete, a spectator or a sports enthusiast, we’re pretty sure that ping pong tickles that spark of interest in you. To let your friends know more about the true nature of ping pong, hit share on all your

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