What Are The Official Rules Of Ping Pong

What Are The Official Rules Of Ping Pong

Last modified: October 14, 2023

Hello, ping pong pals both young and old! Whether you’re a seasoned player, a fiery newcomer, or someone just interested in the game, I bet you’re curious to know exactly how this speedy sport is played on the official level. Well, you’ve bounced onto the right corner of the web. Let’s dive right in to the key details of the rules of ping pong (also known as table tennis).

The Equipment

Ever wondered what makes a ping pong game legal? Well, it all begins with the right gear.

The Table

A standard ping pong table measures about 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 30 inches high. It’s routinely painted in a dark green or blue hue. Also vital is a white sideline and endline, plus a net that’s consistently 6 inches high.

The Ball

The official ping pong ball is round and made of celluloid or similar light plastics. Its weight must be 2.7 grams and its diameter should be about 40mm. Color? Usually a blend of white and bright orange.

The Paddle

The ping pong paddle is quirky compared to other sports. There is no standard size, shape or weight. However, one rule is a must: one side must be bright red, the other black. Red or black rubber must coat at least 85% of the paddle blade.

The Gameplay

Once the equipment is in check, the real fun begins. Here is how an official game of ping pong is played.

The Serve

The game begins with a serve. The server throws the ball, without spin, at least 16 cm in the air from the open palm of their hand. On its descent, the server hits the ball so it first touches their own court and then, passing over or around the net assembly, touches the opponent’s court.

The Return

The receiver then makes a return shot, aiming to bounce the ball over the net onto the server’s side of the table. The rally continues in this manner until a player fails to return, at which point the other player scores a point.


A match is played best 3 of 5 games (or 4/7 or 5/9). For each game, the first player to reach 11 points wins that game, however a game must be won by at least a two point margin.

Common Violations

As in any game, there are actions that lead to penalties in ping pong. It’s important to understand and remember these common violations.

Double Hits

If a player strikes the ball twice successively or it touches any part of their body or clothing, then it results in loss of a point.

Net or Edge Service Faults

If the ball, served or returned, hits the net, supports or even the edges and doesn’t reach the opponent’s side, it is considered a fault and a point is given to the opponent.

Out of Order Service

Players must serve, receive, and return in that specific order. Any change in this sequence results in a point for the opponent.


And those, my friends, are the fundamentals on how to play an official ping pong game! Now that you’re well-versed in the official rules, grab your paddle, seek out an opponent, and make a lively game out of it. Just remember, above all, the goal is to have fun! Happy ping pong playing!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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