Can You Only Score On Your Serve In Ping Pong

Can You Only Score On Your Serve In Ping Pong

Last modified: September 30, 2023

Can You Only Score on Your Serve in Ping Pong?

Ping pong, also known as table tennis, is a fun and fast-paced sport that requires quick reflexes and precise hand-eye coordination. Whether you play casually with friends or competitively, it’s important to understand the rules of the game. One common question that often comes up is whether you can only score points on your serve. Let’s explore this topic and shed some light on the scoring system in ping pong.

Understanding the Basic Rules of Ping Pong

Before we tackle the question of scoring, let’s quickly review the basic rules of ping pong. In a standard game, the players stand on opposite sides of the table, using small paddles to hit a lightweight ball back and forth. The objective is to score points by successfully hitting the ball over the net and onto your opponent’s side of the table, while preventing them from returning it.

Rally Scoring System

Ping pong uses a rally scoring system, which means that a point is awarded after every rally, regardless of who served the ball. This is different from traditional scoring systems in sports like tennis, where you can only score points when serving.

Each rally begins with a serve, which must be done diagonally from the server’s right-hand side to the opponent’s right-hand side. The ball must bounce once on the server’s side of the table, clear the net, and land on the opponent’s side. The receiver then attempts to return the serve by hitting the ball back over the net within the boundaries of the table.

Scoring Points in Ping Pong

In ping pong, a point is scored in any of the following situations:

  • When the opponent fails to make a successful return and the ball either hits the net or goes out of bounds.
  • When the opponent fails to make a successful return and the ball hits the net post or the side of the table (also known as the “edge ball”).
  • When the opponent fails to serve the ball correctly, such as not hitting it over the net or not getting it to bounce on the correct side of the table.
  • When the opponent commits a rule violation, such as touching the net with their hand or obstructing the ball.

It’s important to note that if the server fails to make a successful serve, the opponent is awarded a point and then becomes the server. This means that both players have opportunities to score points, regardless of who serves the ball.


In conclusion, you can score points in ping pong regardless of whether you are serving or receiving. The rally scoring system ensures that every rally is an opportunity for both players to add points to their score. So the next time you step onto the ping pong table, remember that every hit counts, and every rally could be a chance to score!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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