What Are The Rules In Ping Pong

What Are The Rules In Ping Pong

Last modified: October 14, 2023

It’s no secret that ping pong, also known as table tennis, is one of the most popular recreational sports in the world. But besides that, it is also an extremely competitive sport, an Olympic game since 1988. But for those of you who love to take up the paddles and face your opponent, either as a hobby or as a fiery competition, you may wonder about the precise rules of this game. So let’s dive in and learn more about this fast-paced sport.

Basic Rules of Ping Pong

Understanding ping pong’s fundamental rules is vital to mastering the game. Below, we will cover the three main areas of ping pong: scoring, serving, and gameplay.


In ping pong, a game is typically played to 11 points, with players needing to win by 2 points. If both players reach 10 points, the game continues until one player has a two-point advantage. Scoring is performed in both service and receive situations, making every play in the game crucial.


Serving in ping pong requires a bit of skill and understanding of the rules. For a serve to be legal, the player must start with the ball flat in their palm. After tossing it upwards, the ball must be hit in such a way that it bounces first on the server’s side then on the opponent’s side of the table. If the receive misses the return, the server gets a point.


During gameplay, the ball can only be hit one time each side of the table before it should go to the landing point of their adversary. Hitting the ball before it bounces on your side results in a point for your opponent. In doubles play, players must take turns hitting the ball and follow the right sequence.

Advanced Rules of Ping Pong

Now that we’ve touched upon the fundamental rules of ping pong, let’s delve further into some of the more advanced rules that might not be known by the casual player but are significant in competitive play.

Ping Pong Paddle Rules

The regulations surrounding the racket, or paddle, in table tennis are very stringent. The paddle must be one side black and one side red, so that opponents can clearly distinguish between different types of rubber used. Modifications are allowed, but they shouldn’t alter the original shape, size, or weight.

Double Bounce Rule

This rule is a unique and essential feature in table tennis. If a serve hits the receiver’s side twice before they attempt to return it, it’s considered a point for the server. Strangely enough, this unusual rule adds more fun and complexity to the game.

The Expedite System

In case of a game dragging on for too long, the expedite system is invoked. This usually happens when a game lasts more than 10 minutes without reaching 18 points total. The main point here is to prevent play from slowing down too much and maintaining the fast-paced nature of the game.

Special Ping Pong Scenarios

Understanding some unique situations specific to this game will not only ensure that you’re ready for any gameplay condition. It will also uplift your game.


A “let” is a situation where the result of a play is nullified and must be retaken. This happens when a served ball touches the net but lands in the correct area or when an external factor interrupt the game.

Out of Order Play in Doubles

During doubles play, if a player hits the ball out of order or out of sequence, their team would lose the point. This rule underlines the importance of accurate communication and coordination during doubles gameplay.

Ball Strikes Player

Interestingly, if the ball hits a player before it bounces on their side of the table, the point would go to the hitter. So, protecting oneself and staying alert are critical facets of this fast-paced game.


So there you have it! Although ping pong might seem straightforward, it’s a game full of unexpected complexity, requiring nimble reflexes, technical skill, and strategic intuition. The next time you pick up a paddle, keep these rules in mind. Whether you’re playing a friendly game at a backyard barbecue or battling it out in a professional match, this deeper understanding of ping pong’s rules will give you an edge on the table.

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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