How to play ping pong

So you want to know how to play ping pong? (table tennis)

I’m sure you’ve tried to figure out the rules of table tennis already but couldn’t find the most straightforward resource to learn this beautiful game.

If so, then you are in the right place.

Table tennis is a fun sport, no doubt.

Luckily, the basic rules of table tennis are not hard by any means.

You can play either single (1 vs. 1) or doubles (2 vs. 2). The rules are almost similar, except for a few differences.

Good for you!

In this article, I’m going to tell you all the rules of table tennis in the most simplistic way possible.

Let’s begin.

How to play ping pong

The Basics of How to Play Table Tennis

The Basic Goal / Core Objective

Before I dive into other rules of table tennis, let’s see what is the fundamental goal to win a game.

Your primary goal or objective is to win three sets before your opponent.

To win a single set, you have to score eleven points and be at least two points ahead of your opponent.

If the score goes to ten-ten for each of the players or teams, then the game continues until one player (for singles) or team (for doubles) goes ahead of another player or team by two points.

How Do You Score Points?

Now, let’s learn some of the rules related to scoring a point. Remember, you have to score eleven points to win a set.

To score a point, you have to hit the ball with your ping pong paddle or bat over the net to your opponent’s side.

If your opponent either misses the ball or hits the ball, but the shot is blocked by the net, you will score one point.

The Things You Can’t Do

Now, I’m going to point out some actions that you are not allowed to do in table tennis.

Otherwise, you will lose a point to your opponent.

So here are the ways you can lose a point –

  • You are not allowed to hit the ball directly on to the ground outside the playing area. Doing so will give your opponent a point.
  • Don’t hit the ball twice in succession.
  • You are not allowed to let the ball bounce more than once at your side on the table.
  • You must have to let the ball bounce at least once on your side of the table. That means you can’t hit the ball on your side without letting it bounce once.
  • If you hit the ball into the net and it falls on your end, that means if the netblocks the shot, then you will lose a point to your opponent.
  • You can’t touch the ball except with the bat. That means holding the ball after serving or touching it with any parts of the body is illegal.
  • You are not allowed to put your non-playing hand on the table during any shot.
  • You must serve the ball legally. I’m going to mention the serving rule separately in a moment.
  • In doubles, you can’t hit the ball out of turn—more on this below.

If you breach any of the rules mentioned above, your opponent will get one point. Don’t let the opponent get 11 points ahead of you to win a set.

So, now let’s learn some of the rules related to service.

Service Rules in Table Tennis

  • In singles, you can serve the ball anywhere on the table. You don’t have to consider the middle line on the table while playing singles. It’s only noticed when playing doubles.
  • However, for doubles, you must have to serve the ball on the opposite corner of the table, and partners must alternate serves.
  • Each player (for singles) or each pair (for doubles) gets two serves before the opponent player, or the pair gets the chance of next two serves.
  • You must have a flat hand when serving, and the ball must be on the palm of your hand. You are not allowed to hold the ball in your fingers; it’s illegal.
  • When you serve, you must have to be behind the end line of the table, and you also must have to contact the ball behind the end line. However, you can serve from wider than the sideline of the table as long as you are behind the table.
  • You can’t throw the ball up from below the table.
  • When you serve, you must toss the ball at least up to 6” or 16cm.
  • Your opponent must be able to see the ball when you serve. That means you are not allowed to bring your arm or any part of the body along the way during the service that might block the ball view.

This continues until either of the player or pair win a set or reach to deuce.

What is the Deuce in Table Tennis?

Deuce is when the score is tied. Generally, it’s when 10-10. That means both the players or pairs have reached the score ‘ten’.

This is when you require at least two more points advantage to win the set.

Please note, when you and your opponent reach the deuce, you guys will get only one service at a time as opposed to the two serves.

What is Out of Turns in Table Tennis?

This applies when you are playing doubles. The rule is you and your partner must hit alternatively during a rally.

Let me elaborate on this rule a bit.

When you are playing doubles, you are two in number on one side, right?

When your opponent hits the ball back to your team, suppose you hit the ball back to your opponent.

Next time when any of the opponent’s members hits the ball back again, this time, your teammate must hit the ball back, not you.

If any of you play two shots successively instead of altering between the teammates, it’s called out of turns. As a result of out of turns, your opponent team is rewarded one valuable point.

Watch the Video for Becoming a Better Table Tennis Player Quickly



Final Words

These are all the basic rules for playing table tennis.

I’m sure; I’ve been able to teach you how to play table tennis in the simplest way possible.

This is not a table tennis drill guide, by the way. It’s all about rules.

Have I missed anything? Please comment below.