What Are The Serving Rules In Ping Pong

What Are The Serving Rules In Ping Pong

Last modified: October 14, 2023

Whether you’re a new player just dipping your toes in the world of ping pong or an experienced pongist aiming to brush up your serving rules knowledge, this article is for you. In this post, we’re going to dissect the essential serving rules in ping pong and help you master your game plan. By understanding these rules, it will aid your journey in becoming a successful ping pong player.

The Basics of Ping Pong Serving

The serve is your first shot in a play and sets the tone for the rest of the game. It’s crucial to get it right and within the bounds of the rules.

Rule 1: The ball must rest on an open palm

An important rule to remember is that when serving, the ball must rest freely on your open palm before being tossed. This rule ensures that there’s no unfair spin imparted to the ball by your fingers during your serve.

Rule 2: The ball must be tossed at least 6 inches high

The regulation stipulates that the ball must be tossed at least six inches into the air from the palm of your free hand and struck on its descent. No spin should be imparted on the ball during the toss.

Rule 3: The serve must bounce on each side of the table

The ball should first bounce on your side of the table and then on your opponent’s side. If it fails to bounce on both sides, the serve is considered fault, resulting in a point for your opponent.

Advanced Serving Rules

While the aforementioned rules cover the basics, there are a few more advanced rules you need to be aware of to avoid penalties and to keep your game strong.

Rule 4: You can’t hide the ball when serving

The server is not allowed to hide the ball from their opponent at any moment during the serve. This is to ensure that the receiver can clearly see the ball when it’s hit.

Rule 5: The order of serving

In a standard game, say up to 11 points, the right to serve first is determined by a coin toss. After every two points scored, the service changes to the other player.

Rule 6: Serving in doubles

In doubles, the serving order goes in a rotation. In addition, the ball must bounce once in the right half court of both server’s and receiver’s side. If not, the serving side loses a point.

Bonus: Serving Strategies

Mastering the rules is just the first step, the real difference is often down to strategy.

Strategy 1: Using spin effectively

While the rules don’t allow for spin during the toss, you can freely impart spin after your racket hits the ball. Utilizing topspin, backspin, or sidespin can make your serve more unpredictable and challenging to return.

Strategy 2: Placement accuracy

Try to serve in a way that makes it difficult for your opponent to strike back effectively. Good placement can limit your opponent’s return options, giving you a tactical advantage in the rally.

Strategy 3: Variation in your serving style

Keep varying your serves to break the rhythm and keep your opponent guessing.


Remember, mastering the serving rules in ping pong and creating effective serving strategies will take you a long way in the game. So, keep practicing these rules and strategies and aim for that perfect serve every time. Who knows, you might soon be a ping pong champion!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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