Rules of the Game Ping Pong


Ping pong, or table tennis, is a popular game for players of all ages and levels. It can be played at school, in a recreation center, at home, at work, or even in a bar as an alternative to pool. Despite its popularity, many people do not know the official rules or choose to adapt their own version of the rules. Learn the main rules to ping pong according to the International Table Tennis Federation.

The Racket and Ball

  • The racket may be any size, shape or weight but the blade must be flat and rigid. The blade has to be 85 percent natural wood and an adhesive layer within the blade may contain fibrous material such as carbon fiber, glass fiber or compressed paper, but it can't be more than 7.5 percent of the total thickness. The ball must be spherical and be 1.6 inches in diameter with a weight of .1 ounces.

Ping Pong Service

  • Service must start with the ball sitting freely on the palm of the server's free hand. The ball cannot be pinched by the thumb and forefinger before service. The server needs to then throw the ball up vertically so it rises at least five inches. The server can only strike the ball once it starts falling.

Scoring Points

  • Points are scored in several ways. If an opponent fails to make a correct service, if an opponent fails to return the ball and if an opponent obstructs the ball are the main ways a player scores a point.

    Additionally, if the game is a doubles match and the proper sequence of play is disrupted, a point is awarded.

    If the ball goes off the table without first hitting the table, a point is awarded to the team that did not hit the ball.

Game Length

  • Game length is not determined by time but is played to a pre-determined number of points. Games are played to 11 points unless both players are tied at 10. In this case, one player needs to lead by at least two points before the game is over.

Order of Play

  • In singles play, the server will set the serve and the receiver shall then return the ball. From then on, the server and the receiver alternately hit the ball until play ends.

    In doubles play, after the serve, the receiver makes the return and then the player who did not serve returns the ball to the partner of the receiver of the serve. Play continues in this order.

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  • Photo Credit ping pong image by Sergio Di Giovanni from
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