What Score Do You Play To In Ping Pong

What Score Do You Play To In Ping Pong

Last modified: October 17, 2023

Did you know that the game of ping pong, also known as table tennis, actually has an interesting scoring system which you might not understand unless you’ve delved a bit into it? This is where I’ll come in handy – as a longtime writer and ping pong enthusiast, I’m just the right person to enlighten you. Please, come with me on a trip down the road of ping pong scoring.

A Glimpse Into The Scoring System

In this section, let’s delve into the basic rules of scoring in ping pong. Also, you’ll get to understand the rules that govern serve in the game and how points can be scored.

Basic Rules of Scoring

The game of ping pong is usually played to 11 points in most casual games and some professional games. However, in certain professional contexts, games could be played to 21 points. A player or a pair of players (in doubles) must accumulate these points before their opponent does, but they must also do so with a two-point lead. This means that the game could potentially go on past the 11 (or 21) point mark until a player or pair secures a two-point lead.

Serving Regulations

In ping pong, the right to serve first is determined by a coin toss. Each player (or pair, in doubles) then serves two points in turn until a player reaches 10 points. After that, players alternate serves after every point until the game is over. Do note, service rules slightly vary in games played to 21 points, where each player serves five points in turn.

Scoring Points

A point can be won in a variety of ways – if the opponent fails to make a correct return, if they hit the ball twice in succession, allow the ball to bounce more than once in their own court, strike the ball before it has bounced in their court, or even if they or their racket touches the net assembly during play. Learning these rules can give you a solid advantage!

Delving Deeper Into The Scoring System

Now that we’ve covered the basic rules for scoring in ping pong, let’s delve deeper into some details that often get overlooked but can dramatically impact the game.

Scoring in Doubles Matches

In doubles matches, team members alternate turns after every serve, adding an extra layer of strategy to the game.

The Importance of Two-Point Leads

As mentioned before, a two-point lead is required to win. This keeps the game exciting, as a single point can always turn the tide at any time.

Tiebreaker Rules

In professional tournaments, if a game reaches a score of 10-10, a tiebreaker goes into effect where players alternate serves after every point until one player gains a two-point lead. This rule keeps the tension high and the game unpredictable.

Lesser-Known Scoring Facts

Finally, let’s check out some interesting and lesser-known facts about scoring in ping pong.

Ping Pong’s Unique Scoring History

Interesting fact, games used to be played up to 21 points with players alternating serves every 5 points, but this was changed in 2001 to speed up the game and make it more spectator-friendly.

The Zero-Zero Start

Unlike many other sports, ping pong starts with the score at 0-0 (also known as “love-all” in some circles).

Scoring – A Strategic Tool

The scoring system isn’t only for recording points; it’s also a strategic tool. Players use their serve to disrupt opponents’ rhythm, set up offensive shots, or defend against aggressive play. Scoring also directly influences the order of serve, influencing the flow and strategy of the game.


We’ve covered the basics of ping pong scoring, explored the rules in detail, and delved into some unique aspects of ping pong scoring history and strategy. Being aware of these rules and facts not only makes for a better player but an informed fan as well. Now you’re ready to either take on your next ping pong match, or cheer for your favorite player with a deeper understanding of the game. Game on!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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