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Basic Table Tennis Rules
(How To Play Ping Pong)
The basic table tennis rules are incredibly simple, especially for casual players. The rules essentially govern the size of the table, rackets, and ball weight/dimensions. This article gives a simple introduction to the basic ping pong rules.
Table tennis is an incredibly easy sport to pick up. It involves hitting a lightweight ball across a table to another player using a table tennis racket. In general play you need to ensure that the ball bounces once, and only once on your opponents half of the table. These simple rules make the game very popular among people of all ages.
Basic Table Tennis Rules – dimensions
The rules of table tennis are set by an organization called the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Beginning with the equipment, official table tennis rules mandate that the table tennis ball be not more than 40mm in diameter and 2.7 grams in weight.
The table itself must be no longer than 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 2.5 feet (30 inches) high. It must be made of hardboard or timber (though amateur tables may be made from a number of other materials) and be divided into two halves by a net that can’t be higher than 6 inches. Additionally, the table must be coated with a friction-reducing paint.
As per the basic ping pong rules, the table tennis racket is made of laminated wood and can be padded with rubber on one or two sides. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘paddle’ or ‘bat’. The racket consists of a wooden part (called the ‘blade’) which can’t be more than 6.5 inches long and 6 inches wide.
Rules on Serving
Generally the player who serves first is decided by a coin toss. The game begins with one player ‘serving’ the ball. To do this the server rests the ball in their free-hand (the one without the racket)and throws the ball into the air. The ball is struck as it falls.
The rules say that the ball must first land in the server’s half of the table before landing in the opponent’s half. After one player serves the ball, the other player is required to hit it across to the other side before it bounces more than once. If the ball gets caught in the net on the serve, the player loses a point. If the ball hits the net, but still falls into the opponent’s side, then service is taken again.
Each serve lasts for two consecutive points, and the winner of the set is the first to 11 points (with a gap of at least 2 points between them and their opponent). Games consist of anywhere from best of 5 to 7 sets, though the rules are flexible about this. An amateur game can be of any odd number of sets.
Basic Table Tennis Rules – Winning Points
A point can be scored by a number of ways, but generally, a player scores a point when the opponent fails to return the ball correctly – that is, when the opponent either misses the ball, hits it into the net, or the ball bounces on their side, or fails to bounce on their opponent’s side.
So you can see that the basic table tennis rules – table size, ball weight, and typical scoring patterns – ensure that the game isn’t complex, meaning you can start off pretty quickly, and enjoy yourself.