How To Serve In Ping Pong Rules

How To Serve In Ping Pong Rules

Last modified: October 11, 2023


Serving in ping pong is the starting point of every game. It sets the tone and can give you a strategic advantage over your opponent. In this post, we will explore the rules and techniques for serving in ping pong, providing you with valuable insights to improve your game.

The Basics of Serving

When it comes to serving in ping pong, there are a few fundamental rules that must be followed. These rules ensure fairness and establish a level playing field for both players.

1. The serve must start from an open palm
To initiate a serve, the ball must be tossed vertically at least 6 inches before hitting it. The server needs to hold the ball flat in the palm of their hand while tossing it up in the air. The toss should be near-vertical and not impart any spin on the ball.

2. The ball must be struck behind the table
When serving, the ball must be struck behind the playing surface of the table. The server cannot touch or cross the imaginary extension of the end line with any part of their body or the racket during the serve. Stepping on or over the line results in a point being awarded to the opponent.

3. The ball must be hit cleanly
The ball must be hit cleanly without touching any part of the server’s body or clothing before it is struck. If the ball grazes the net and falls into the receiver’s side, it is called a let and the serve is replayed. However, if the ball touches the net and fails to reach the receiver’s side, it results in a point for the opponent.

Now that we have covered the basic rules of serving let’s dive into some serving techniques.

Serving Techniques

1. The Short Backspin Serve
The short backspin serve is an effective technique to catch your opponent off guard. To execute this serve, brush the back of the ball with a downward motion while making contact near the base of the ball. Aim to make the ball bounce twice on your opponent’s side of the table, causing them to hesitate and potentially miss their return.

2. The Long Topspin Serve
The long topspin serve is a more aggressive serve that puts pressure on your opponent. Start by tossing the ball higher and make contact with the ball from below, adding topspin to the shot. This generates a faster and more spinny serve, making it difficult for your opponent to control the return.

3. The Side Spin Serve
The side spin serve is a deceptive technique that involves adding extreme sidespin to the ball. By brushing the ball from the side, you can make it curve away from your opponent’s racket, causing them to misjudge the direction of the ball. Practice variations of side spin serves to keep your opponent guessing and off balance.

Remember to mix up your serves to keep your opponent guessing and prevent them from adapting to your patterns. Vary the speed, spin, and placement of your serves to maximize their effectiveness.


Serving is a crucial aspect of the game of ping pong. It is not only the starting point of every match but also an opportunity to gain an advantage over your opponent. By following the rules and implementing various serving techniques, you can enhance your game and keep your opponent on their toes. Practice your serves regularly and experiment with different techniques to improve your skills and become a formidable opponent. So go ahead, step up to the table, and serve your way to success!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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