Rules of Table Tennis | How it is Played?

The game of Table Tennis was developed in the 19th century but was restricted to the upper class of England because it was an indoor game and having a table for this type of tennis was mandatory.

Rules of Table Tennis

Soon it became an Olympic sport in the end of the 19th century and its popularity grew in Asia at a swift pace. It won’t be wrong to deem this game as a modified version of tennis but it is played on a table.

Object of Playing Table Tennis

It is played with a “ping pong” ball and the aim is to score 11 points by outmanoeuvring your opponent into either hitting the ball into the net, missing it completely or hitting it out of the table.

Matches are usually played as best of five or best of seven games. The first to score 11 points or more with 2 points lead wins the set. In the end, the one who wins the most sets is declared the winner.

How to Play?

Table tennis is played with a small racquet and a ping pong ball which moves quickly. It can be played individually or between a team of two on a special table, both teams try to hit the ball in such a way that their opponent ends up missing it, hitting it into the small net or sending it off the table.

However, it is not easy as it sounds to be. You have to learn the right order of service, what happens whenever a match is drawn and of how many sets a typical Table tennis game consists of. Find out everything below in a comprehensible manner.

General Rules of Table Tennis

  • Each player gets two serves.
  • Serves are not decided by point scoring but fixed, after every two serves the next two serves are done by the other player.
  • The serve must be made from palm.
  • In a single game, service can be made anywhere on the table.
  • In doubles, service must be made on the opposite side of the table – that’s the only difference between singles and doubles.
  • After each set, players change ends and the receiver of the previous set serves first.
  • In the final set of the game, players swap ends after either player reaches five points.


The toss determines which player will take the first serve.

Time Duration of a Table Tennis Match

The time duration depends upon the number of sets to be played. Each set goes on until one of the players manages to score 11 points. The time duration of the game is directly proportional to the competitiveness of the game.

Playing Field

Table Tennis Table: A standard measures approximately 2.74m (9ft) long, 76cm (30 inches) high and 1.52m (5ft) wide.

Net: Table features a 15.25cm (6 inch) net across its width, bisecting its length.

Playing Equipment

All you need to play table tennis is table tennis ball (ping pong ball). This ping pong ball is 40mm diameter, white (or sometimes orange) table tennis ball weighing 2.7g.

The ping pong is hit by racket, also called bats or paddles, and are red on one side and black on the other. The racket length varies from 15 cm to 25 cm.

Scoring Methods in Table Tennis

Scoring in table tennis is simple. All you have to do is hit the ball in such a way that the opponent either misses the ball or ends up hitting into the net. You also get a point whenever your opponent sends the ball out of the table.

There are no such things as penalty or red card/yellow card in table tennis. For your every violation, your opponent gets a point.

Famous Table Tennis Tournaments

Table tennis is a simple and inexpensive game, yet it is followed worldwide and played across the globe at junior and senior levels. It is also part of the Olympic games. Some of the famous table tennis tournaments are:

  • African Championship
  • Oceania championship
  • European championship

Governing body

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the governing body which caters the international table tennis events all across the globe. The role of federation includes overseeing rules and regulations, and seeking technological improvement for the sport of table tennis.