Table tennis is a game that’s played with rackets and a ball. The rackets are usually made of wood or plastic and have rubber surfaces. The ball is about an inch in diameter and made of celluloid or rubber. A net separates the two sides of the table, which must be 28 inches high at the highest point (and no more than three inches below). Players serve the ball by flipping it over their heads—no hands allowed! If they miss hitting the table altogether, they’re out!

The table

The table must be 9 feet long and 5 feet wide, and it must be level. The playing surface should be smooth and highly polished, with no bumps or depressions to affect the ball’s bounce.

The net
  • The net must be 15cm high, with a top edge 6mm wide and made of non-reflective material.

  • It must be fixed in place, parallel to the surface of the table and in line with its centre.

A coin toss

If you’re playing with six or more players, then the player who wins the coin toss will serve first. Otherwise, it’s up to the loser of that coin toss to decide which player serves first.

  • The server must stand behind the back line.

  • The server must hit the ball with the racket.

  • The server must hit the ball before it bounces.

  • The server must hit the ball over the net, and into his/her own service box in doubles only (the other team’s service box in singles).


To score points, a player must hit the ball with his/her paddle and make it land inside the opponent’s court. The server then gets two serves before switching to defensive mode.

Once a player wins their serve by scoring 11 points, or reaches 5 games in an 11-point game, they win the set and play continues with another set. The first player to win 2 sets wins the match!

With one exception: when both players are on 10-10 (i.e., neither has won two sets), alternate serves are required until one of them gains two clear points ahead of their opponent


If you are the receiving player, you must allow the ball to bounce once before returning it. You must allow the ball to bounce on your side of the table before returning it. You must also allow it to bounce on the other player’s side of the table before returning it.

The following three rules apply when playing a serve:

  • Serve overhand only; no top spin or underhand serves allowed (the server can use backspin)

  • Serve from behind your end line and in front of your opponent’s end line—no jump serves allowed (the server may step back during his/her motion) 3) The ball must be struck after leaving either player’s paddle(s).

Always be ready to play by the rules

The rules of table tennis are simple and easy to remember. If you follow them, you will be able to enjoy your game even more. Always be ready to play by the rules!


That’s all you need to know about table tennis rules. You can now play the game with confidence, knowing that there aren’t any tricks up your sleeve!

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