Table tennis rules

Table tennis rules: Everything you need to know

It doesn’t matter if you call it ping pong; in fact, there are a variety of names that are used to refer to table tennis (also called “table tennis”). An age-old sport that did not gain widespread popularity until the latter half of the nineteenth century is now one of the sports that can be competed in at the Olympics. Table tennis has proven itself to be one of the most exciting games ever played over the course of its history. This is partially due to the game’s adaptability, as it only requires two players and can be played anywhere, including inside and outdoors.

However, what are the prerequisites for participation? And how do you play table tennis? The sport of table tennis is broken down into its essential components in the following summary.

What you need to play table tennis

As the name of the game indicates, table tennis basically consists of a tennis match played on a table instead of on a court; the dynamics are more or less the same. However, there is something different: the size of the racket is consequently reduced, and the shape and texture also change; moreover, the ball becomes lighter. To play, you need:

  • Two rackets (or four, if playing doubles)
  • A table tennis ball
  • A regular playing field

For the table, there are standard lengths that must be respected, namely: 

  • 5cm wide
  • 274cm long
  • 76cm high
  • Net height of 15.25 cm

The net that divides the field in two is made of nylon and protrudes to the side for another 15.25 cm.

 Even the ball has specific characteristics:

  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Weight: 2.7 grams
  • Material: PVC or ABS

Even for rackets, there are some indications: the frame (i.e., the flat part, to be clear) must be 85% wood and have a rubber cover on both sides.

Note: In general, given the lightness of the ball, it is always better to play indoors to prevent the wind from affecting the trajectory of rallies too much.

The rules of table tennis

First of all, it must be said that the number of sets to be won varies from competition to competition; in general, they are either best of 5 or best of 7. To win a set, you need to reach 11 points; if you reach 10 points, each player will go on until one of the two players gets two points ahead of the opponent.

In the game, which must comply with specific rules, the ball must first hit one’s court and then end up in the opponent’s court. The player to serve first has two serves, then the two serves in a row pass to the opponent, and so on until the end of the set. If it reaches 10, the series of one serving each begins instead.

After the serve, the opposing player must make the return, throwing the ball back into the court of the one who served. This goes on until one of the two players makes a mistake or commits a foul. It is a foul when:

  • A player talks during a trade.
  • Racket or player makes contact with the net
  • One player moves the table.
  • Or if he touches the table with his free hand.

Table tennis, overall, is a simple and fun sport with precise rules that are also quite easy to remember and put into practice. It helps mental concentration and improves coordination; it’s a highly recommended sport. The best men and women, then, can even aspire to Olympic gold, given that table tennis, as mentioned, has been present at the Olympics since 1988.