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Official Rules Of Ping Pong

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Any game requires a set of regulations for governance and fair play. As a beginner, this is going to be the most confusing part. Ping pong is no different since it has its own rules. The game is enjoyable (see our top 10 games to play with friends) and is a platform to sharpen skills. Experts in this game can join competitions and play table tennis as well. If you are interested in the game, you must first learn the ping pong setup. Secondly, there are service rules, the most vital that determine the finers aspects of the game (see how to play ping pong better for tips). Below is detailed information on both essential areas that you should consider.

Ball and paddle for table tennisBasic Structure

Ping pong is more or less like table tennis. There’s a table, and players use paddles to hit the ball. Most times, the paddle has different colors on both sides, either red or black. The contrast is essential for the experts to monitor that you are using the same side to hit the ball all through. The paddle must be smooth with minimal damages. If there are any chips, the umpire must certify that it will not interfere with the hitting. Once the players start the game, none of them is allowed to change paddles. However, you are only exempted when there is visible proof of damages, which might cause a significant difference when the ball hits the area.

Related: See Our Picks of the Best Ping Pong Tables that Fold Up

The ping pong table has a net located at the center. It runs from end to end. You must ensure the top of the net is precisely 15.25 cm above the surface by checking both sides of the table using a ruler. Modern tables come with a measuring tool. A ping pong table is a protected place; hence only the ball should touch it. Players are not permitted to move or touch it or the net at any given point during play using their free hand. When you do it, you suffer the loss of a mark. Players should be keen as even accidents would result in the same repercussions.

Serving Rules

There are numerous service rules governing ping pong. Most of them cause a stir among players, but they aim to ensure the game is fair to both parties. Each player can view the ball while in motion hence calculating the spin and making the right move. Therefore, the ball should always be seen by the receiver. Players should never place their hands under the table surface during serving; otherwise, it is an automatic fault. Most obstructions happen when one of the players touches the ball, whether using the paddle, clothes, or a part of their body. However, the case is different when the ball is out of the surface away from the endline.

Ping Pong ServeTossing

During a toss, the winner can receive, serve or begin at any point. The opponent, therefore, chooses any of the remaining options that seem suitable to them. When tossing, you should endeavor to make an upward rather than a downward toss without a spin. A vertical move maintains it. Upon launching, the ball should attain at least 16 centimeters while heading in the opponent’s direction. The move should be flawless. Please do not attempt to lift the ball using your hand as you will get a fault. Once you hit the ball using the paddle, it should change the course and travel on the way down. You are not allowed to shoot it in an upward direction. It should always be above the playing surface. However, ensure it’s behind the endline.


There are three different times when the game comes to a stop:

Warm-up – players have a maximum of two minutes to practice before the game commences.
Time out – each of the participants is entitled to a one-time of 1 minute.
Breaks – there is a toweling period off every 6 points. Additionally, a break can happen when the game has gone off track, or maybe a player is stretching or wiping their glasses. However, the break shouldn’t interfere with the flow of the game.


The above rules are simplified for any beginner. Nevertheless, there are more technical rules, but these are the foundation that you should master before practicing. Learning them gives players an upper hand to have a smooth transitioning into becoming gurus in the game.