page title icon ITTF Standard Table Tennis Rules and Regulations

Ping pong or table tennis is not just limited to a table, rackets, and the ball. Instead, this game is comprised of a specific set of table tennis rules which are to be followed for proper enjoyment of the games.

You need to keep these table tennis regulations in your mind to take out the best from a game session. No matter you are playing table tennis just for fun or you want to opt it as your career these rules are must for everyone.

In this thorough guide, you will get a brief on the rules, the dimensions of the ping pong table, and other things that are essential for you.

The game of ping pong may appear simple, but the table tennis games rules can be a bit difficult to learn.

We have tried our level best to explain these rules and regulations in the simplest possible way.

ITTF Standard Official Table Tennis Rules


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Here you will get every detail about the table and its dimensions. This will also help you in buying the table tennis table for an unforgettable ping pong gaming event.

  • The surface of the table should be in rectangular shape and with length 9ft or (274 cm). On the other hand, its width should be approximately 5 ft or 152.5 cm. The platform of the table should be supported equally by pillars so that its height from the ground lies nearly 2 ft 6 inch or 76 cm.
  • The table can be manufactured by any material either it is wood or fiber, but it should deliver a uniform bounce at all the points. The bounce rate should be 8 ¾ inches or 36 cm. Take a ping pong ball and drop it from 12 inches or 30 cm to check the bounce rate.
  • Make sure that the color of the table is in a darker tone to the white stripes are easily visible. The dimension of stripes should be a ¾ inch or 2 cm in width.
  • The lines at the end of the table are known as end lines and the player can use them fully while playing a singles match.
  • The lines located at the side are known as sidelines.
  • In case if a doubles match the table will be divided into two parts for a single side. The two halves are done with a white stripe of 3mm width, which is equally distributed to another end of the table. The players are allowed to remain at their end while playing the match.
  • The center line will not disrupt the singles game; single players are free to use any corner of the table during the gameplay.
  • Only the top of the table is meant for playing, the balls touching sideways will be considered as a foul.

Assembly of the Net

  • The assembly of the net should only comprise the main net, its supporting pillars, the suspension, and the clamps that are used to attach the net.
  • The net has to be fixed using the suspension cords provided with the table, and once fixed the net should be 6 inches in the upright position.
  • The net should be straight and there should be no wrinkles in the whole net.
  • The bottom part of the net can be closer to the table. Make sure it is not lying on the surface of the table and is just touching it.

The Ball

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  • The table tennis ball comes in a spherical shape and the diameter should be 40 mm.
  • The total weight of the ball should be exactly 2.7 grams.
  • The color of the ball can be orange or white.
  • Manufacturing material can be any plastic or celluloid material.

The Paddle or The Racket

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  • There is no specific shape assigned for the racket or paddle but the blade or the surface should be rigid and flat.
  • The paddle should possess a minimum thickness of 85% which is entirely comprised of wood. The adhesive or the layer in-between the surface and the racket should not be more than 7.5% of the overall thickness.
  • The side surface of the ping pong racket that is meant for hitting the ball should be covered with conventional pimpled rubber. And the pimples can be located at any side of the racket. The total thickness which even incorporates the adhesive should not exceed 2 mm.
  • This conventional pimpled rubber is manufactured with a single layer which has rubberized pimples evenly spread across the surface. The density of pimples shall lie within a range of 10-50 per sq. cm.
  • The material used in covering the racket blade should cover it thoroughly while leaving all the edges and the corners, and the handle. And also the adhesive should be equally spread so as to maintain equal thickness across the blade.
  • The color of covering material can be bright red, matt or even black. The racket should not contain the same color at both ends.
  • If the blade is damaged or contains some wears and tears including the fading of color can be ignored but up to a certain extent and it should not disrupt the gameplay. The rackets found unfit for the game-play will be disqualified and the player has to use a new racket.
  • Before the commencement of the match, the rackets will be inspected thoroughly. In case a player wants to switch his racket during the game, he will only be allowed to do the same after inspection and green signal from the umpire or referee.
  • In the situations of accidental damages, the paddle should be changed with immediate effect. It can be swapped with any other racket of the player or the player can request a new racket from the organizing committee. If the player swaps racket without any notification then the umpire has the authority to suspend the game. (The racket should only be changed if it is damaged badly and is not fit for playing)
  • The covering material used as a coating on the blades should be manufactured by brands that are accredited by USATT. And it should be stamped on the racket. It should be clearly visible; otherwise, the racket will be terminated from the game.
  • In case the player hits the ball from an area that is not covered with rubber then he will lose a point.

Now It’s the Time to Start the Game

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Let’s have a look at the table tennis rules that need to be followed during the gameplay.

How Many Points Are There in a Table Tennis Match?

Before the year 2001 the match if table tennis was played for 21 points. But for the sake of more excitement and to make the match shorter the table tennis regulations for 11 points were introduced. The winning team or the player should be first to score 11 points against the competitor.

Both players have to score five points and a sixth point which is termed as deuce. The one scoring the deuce will win the game.

Before starting the game the players have to decide who will serve first. If you are just playing the game for fun then you can decide yourself. On the other hand, professional matches have toss which is done using a multi-colored disc or coin.

However, some people consider hiding the ball in one of the hands and let other players guess it. The winner of the toss will decide the serving order.

There are multiple choices the winner of the toss will get:

  • He can start by serving the ball.
  • He can ask another player to serve first.
  • Or he can swap the position with his competitor.

If the player chooses another end of the table then the opponent gets two options. Either he can choose to serve or he can transfer the service to his opponent.

In another case where the winner of toss chooses to serve then the opponent will be able to switch the end positions.

The Serve

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The table tennis games rules have changed multiple times, and here we are talking about the latest rules that are into implementation.

  • The basic service should be done before the end line of the table; the ball should not be bounced upon the surface of the table at the time of serving.
  • The server should start withholding the ball in the other hand and throwing it in upwards direction.
  • At the time of balling the payer should hit the ball so that it bounces one time on his side and one time on the opponent’s side. In case the ball bounces two times at the serving player’s end then he loses a point.
  • In case the ball is swiftly bounced in the other field and the opponent failed to hit it before the second bounce then he loses a point.
  • When playing a single match the ball can be bounced at any point of the table. In the case of doubles, the service should be conducted simultaneously with the dividing line.
  • If the serve touches the net and still manages to bounce at another side then it will be considered as replayed.
  • However, if the ball fails to bounce on the other side after coming in contact with the net in that case the serving player loses a point.
  • Once the service is done properly the ball should not be stopped and it is known as “Rally”.

The Number of Serves in a Game

As mentioned above before 2001 the game was comprised of 21 points, so the players have to score 20 points against each other.  In this case, they were allowed to serve 5 services which were changed alternatively.

But now the layers are allowed to serve 2 services and it changes alternatively until the game reaches on 10 points. In the case of deuce the player who has scored the recent point will serve.

Return to the Serve

When you have served the ball and it has bounced appropriately then your opponent has to hit the ball in a fashion that it bounces one time at your end. After a single bounce at your side, you need to hit the ball so that it bounces at your opponent’s side.

If the ball takes two bounces at your side then you will lose a point and if it will take two bounces at the opponent’s end then he will lose a point.

During the rally, if the ball touches the net and lands at your side then your opponent will be rewarded with a point and if the ball passes the net and lands on another side then the game will be continued.

At the Time of a Rally

During the rally or the game-play both the players are set free to stand in any position and as much distance as much they like. The main aim is to hit the ball before it bounces two times on the same side. The player should make sure that he is not hitting the table and his table or hands are not touching the table or the net.

The player should not run towards the opponent and he cannot disturb the opponent in any way.

In the Case, You Are Playing Doubles

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When playing doubles all the serving rules remain the same and each player gets the opportunity to serve two times. The server has to serve the ball so that it lands in the portion of the receiver of the opponent team. If the ball doesn’t land at the receiver’s end then it is considered as a foul and a point is rewarded to the other team. In case the ball touches the net and bounces on another side then replay is done.

In the continuation of rally each player has to hit the ball one time and he can hit the ball to any corner of the table. If the same player hits the ball twice then a point is rewarded to the opponent team.

How to Score a Point?

For scoring a point you need to sustain the play for a longer duration than your opponent.

Your Opponent Loses a Point to You If:

  • He fails to serve or the serve lands on his side with or without touching the net.
  • If he allows the ball to bounce at his side more than two times during a rally.
  • If he fails to hit the ball in any scenario.
  • If he hits the ball with an edge of his paddle and not with the covered area.
  • If he touches the table and his bat strikes on it.
  • If he hits the ball before letting it bounce on his side.
  • He hits the ball two times in succession and it is generally termed as a double hit.
  • If he creates an obstacle in the way of the ball with any clothing element and any part of the body.
  • If he hits the ball twice during the doubles play.
  • If he swaps the racket without prior notification.

How Long a Table Tennis Game Can Last?

There is no specific timeframe allocated to the game. However, a game can end at any time when the points are accomplished against the opponent. As per the rules and regulations of table tennis if the player gets enrolled in some restricted events then he will be disqualified in no time.

Table Tennis Rules: Myth-Busters

  • The blade of the table tennis racket holds the power of a shot!

No, a racket doesn’t have anything to do with the power. It’s you who have to apply the power through the means of the paddle. The more power you will apply it will be transferred to the ball.

  • If the ball hits your opponent you score a point!

This is a general myth we all have heard while growing up. If the ball hits your opponent without touching the table then you will lose a point not him.

  • You have to serve diagonally in every case!

If you are playing singles then it’s up to you. You can decide the position of your shot. On the other hand, if you follow the same logic in a doubles match then you are going to lose the match.

  • The game should be of 21 points!

ITTF has regulated new rules which inform that the match should be of 11 points. However, if you are playing at your home then you can keep the points as per your wish.

Wrapping it up…

Following the rules and regulations of table tennis indispensable for all the professional players who are looking for a career in table tennis. These are the latest rules disclosed by ITTF and these are applicable on all table tennis games throughout the world.

If you are going to buy a new table or racket then keep the above-mentioned dimensions in mind. These official table tennis rules will help you in making an ideal choice and also you can perfect your gameplay on this table.

Here are few more fun facts about table tennis:

Gavin is the Chief Editor at 99sportz. In his free time, he enjoys playing Table Tennis & Pool. Here he pleasures in unearthing Table Tennis & Pool products and sharing unbiased reviews with readers by writing product reviews & carefully crafting buying guides with his acuity in two of the sports. Know more about Gavin Wade on 99Sportz About page.