Table Tennis / Ping Pong RULES


These laws conform substantially to the ITTF ("International Table Tennis Federation") Laws and Regulations for International Competition.
Minor modifications applicable to USATT ("USA Table Tennis," the national governing body for the Olympic sport of table tennis in the United States) competition are included.




1.    The Table
1.1   The upper surface of the table, known as the playing surface, shall be rectangular, 2.74m long and 1.525m wide, and shall lie in a horizontal plane 76cm above the floor.
1.2   The playing surface shall not include the vertical sides of the tabletop.
1.3   The playing surface may be of any material and shall yield a uniform bounce of about 23cm when a standard ball is dropped on to it from a height of 30cm.
1.4   The playing surface shall be uniformly dark colored and matt, but with a white side line, 2cm wide, along each 2.74m edge and a white end line, 2cm wide, along each 1.525m edge.
1.5   The playing surface shall be divided into 2 equal courts by a vertical net running parallel with the end lines, and shall be continuous over the whole area of each court.
1.6   For doubles, each court shall be divided into 2 equal half-courts by a white center line, 3mm wide, running parallel with the side lines; the center line shall be regarded as part of each right half-court.

2.    The Net Assembly
2.1   The net assembly shall consist of the net, its suspension and the supporting posts, including the clamps attaching them to the table.
2.2   The net shall be suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 15.25cm high, the outside limits of the post being 15.25cm outside the side line.
2.3   The top of the net, along its whole length, shall be 15.25cm above the playing surface.
2.4   The bottom of the net, along its whole length, shall be as close as possible to the playing surface and the ends of the net shall be as close as possible to the supporting posts.

3.    The Ball
3.1   The ball shall be spherical, with a diameter of 40mm.
3.2   The ball shall weigh 2.7g.
3.3   The ball shall be made of celluloid or similar plastics material and shall be white or orange, and matt.

4.    The Racquet
4.1   The racket may be of any size, shape or weight but the blade shall be flat and rigid.
4.2   At least 85% of the blade by thickness shall be of natural wood; an adhesive layer within the blade may be reinforced with fibrous material such as carbon fiber, glass fiber or compressed paper, but shall not be thicker than 7.5% of the total thickness or 0.35mm, whichever is the smaller.
4.3   A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2mm, or sandwich rubber, with pimples
inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4mm.
4.3.1 Ordinary pimpled rubber is a single layer of non-cellular rubber, natural or synthetic, with pimples evenly distributed over its surface at a density of not less than 10 per sq. cm and not more than 30 per sq. cm.
4.3.2 Sandwich rubber is a single layer of cellular rubber covered with a single outer layer of ordinary pimpled rubber, the thickness of the pimpled rubber not being more than 2mm.
4.4   The covering material shall extend up to but not beyond the limits of the blade, except that the part nearest the handle and gripped by the fingers may be left uncovered or covered with any material.
4.5   The blade, any layer within the blade and any layer of covering material or adhesive on a side used for striking the ball shall be continuous and of even thickness.
4.6   The surface of the covering material on a side of the blade, or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, bright red on one side and black on the other.
4.7   Slight deviations from continuity of surface or uniformity of colour due to accidental damage or wear may be allowed provided that they do not significantly change the characteristics of the surface.
4.8   At the start of a match and whenever he changes his racket during a match a player shall show his opponent and the umpire the racket he is about to use and shall allow them to examine it.

5.    Definitions
5.1   A rally is the period during which the ball is in play.
5.2   The ball is in play from the last moment at which it is stationary on the palm of the free hand before being intentionally projected in service until the rally is decided as a let or a point.
5.3   A let is a rally of which the result is not scored.
5.4   A point is a rally of which the result is scored.
5.5   The racket hand is the hand carrying the racket.
5.6   The free hand is the hand not carrying the racket; the free arm is the arm of the free hand.
5.7   A player strikes the ball if he touches it in play with his racket, held in the hand, or with his racket hand below the wrist.
5.8   A player obstructs the ball if he, or anything he wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or traveling towards the playing surface, not having touched his court since last being struck by his opponent.
5.9   The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally.
5.10  The receiver is the player due to strike the ball second in a rally.
5.11  The umpire is the person appointed to control a match.
5.12  The assistant umpire is the person appointed to assist the umpire with certain decisions.
5.13  Anything that a player wears or carries includes anything that he was wearing or carrying, other than the ball, at the start of the rally.
5.14  The ball shall be regarded as passing over or around the net assembly if it passes anywhere other than between the net and the net post or between the net and the playing surface.
5.15  The end line shall be regarded as extending indefinitely in both directions.

6.    Service
6.1   Service shall start with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the server's stationary free hand.
6.2   The server shall then project the ball near vertically upwards, without imparting spin, so that it rises at least 16cm after leaving the palm of the free hand and then falls without touching anything before being struck.
6.3   As the ball is falling the server shall strike it so that it touches first his court and then, after passing over or around the net assembly, touches directly the receiver's court; in doubles, the ball shall touch successively the right half court of server and receiver.
6.4   From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server's end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his doubles partner and by anything they wear or carry.
6.5   As soon as the ball has been projected, the server's free arm shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net. Note: The space between the ball and the net is defined by the ball, the net and its indefinite upward extension.
6.6   It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can see that he complies with the requirements for a good service.
6.6.1 If the umpire is doubtful of the legality of a service he may, on the first occasion in a match, declare a let and warn the server.
6.6.2 Any subsequent service of doubtful legality of that player or his doubles partner will result in a point to the receiver.
6.6.3 Whenever there is a clear failure to comply with the requirements for a good service, no warning shall be given and the receiver shall score a point.
6.7   Exceptionally, the umpire may relax the requirements for a good service where he is satisfied that compliance is prevented by physical disability.

7.    The Return
7.1   The ball, having been served or returned, shall be struck so that it passes over or around the net assembly and touches the opponent's court, either directly or after touching the net assembly.

8.    The Order Of Play
8.1   In singles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return and thereafter server and receiver alternately shall each make a return.
8.2   In doubles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return, the partner of the server shall then make a return, the partner of the receiver shall then make a return and thereafter each player in turn in that sequence shall make a return.
8.3   When two players who are in wheelchairs due to a physical disability are a pair playing doubles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return but thereafter either player of the disabled pair may make returns. However, no part of a player's wheelchair shall protrude beyond the imaginary extension of the centre line of the table. If it does, the umpire shall award the point to the opposing pair.

9.    A Let
9.1   The rally shall be a let.
9.1.1 if in service the ball, in passing over or around the net assembly, touches it, provided the service is otherwise good or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his partner;
9.1.2 if the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his partner attempts to strike the ball;
9.1.3 if failure to make a service or a return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player;
9.1.4 if play is interrupted by the umpire or assistant umpire.
9.1.5 if the receiver is in wheelchair due to a physical disability and the ball
9.1.5.1 leaves the receiver's half after touching it in the direction of the net;
9.1.5.2 comes to rest on the receiver's half;
9.1.5.3 in singles leaves the receiver's half after touching it by either of its sidelines.
9.2   Play may be interrupted
9.2.1 to correct an error in the order of serving, receiving or ends;
9.2.2 to introduce the expedite system;
9.2.3 to warn or penalize a player or adviser;
9.2.4 because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally.

10.   A Point
10.1  Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point
10.1.1 if his opponent fails to make a correct service;
10.1.2 if his opponent fails to make a correct return;
10.1.3 if, after he has made a service or a return, the ball touches anything other than the net assembly before being struck by his opponent;
10.1.4 if the ball passes over his court or beyond his end line without touching his court, after being struck by his opponent;
10.1.5 if his opponent obstructs the ball;
10.1.6 if his opponent strikes the ball twice successively;
10.1.7 if his opponent strikes the ball with a side of the racket blade whose surface does not comply with the requirements of 2.4.3, 2.4.4 and 2.4.5;
10.1.8 if his opponent, or anything his opponent wears or carries, moves the playing surface;
10.1.9 if his opponent, or anything his opponent wears or carries, touches the net assembly;
10.1.10 if his opponent's free hand touches the playing surface;
10.1.11 if a doubles opponent strikes the ball out of the sequence established by the first server and first receiver;
10.1.12 as provided under the expedite system (2.15.2).

11.   A Game
11.1  A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 11 points unless both players or pairs score 10 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points.

12.   A Match
12.1  A match shall consist of the best of any odd number of games.

13.   The Order of Serving, Receiving, and Ends
13.1  The right to choose the initial order of serving, receiving and ends shall be decided by lot and the winner may choose to serve or to receive first or to start at a particular end.
13.2  When one player or pair has chosen to serve or to receive first or to start at a particular end, the other player or pair shall have the other choice.
13.3  After each 2 points have been scored the receiving player or pair shall become the serving player or pair and so on until the end of the game, unless both players or pairs score 10 points or the expedite system is in operation, when the sequences of serving and receiving shall be the same but each player shall serve for only 1 point in turn.
13.4  In each game of a doubles match, the pair having the right to serve first shall choose which of them will do so and in the first game of a match the receiving pair shall decide which of them will receive first; in subsequent games of the match, the first server having been chosen, the first receiver shall be the player who served to him in the preceding game.
13.5  In doubles, at each change of service the previous receiver shall become the server and the partner of the previous server shall become the receiver.
13.6  The player or pair serving first in a game shall receive first in the next game of the match and in the last possible game of a doubles match the pair due to receive next shall change their order of receiving when first one pair scores 5 points.
13.7  The player or pair starting at one end in a game shall start at the other end in the next game of the match and in the last possible game of a match the players or pairs shall change ends when first one player or pair scores 5 points.

14.   Out of Order of Serving,
Receiving or Ends

14.1  If a player serves or receives out of turn, play shall be interrupted by the umpire as soon as the error is discovered and shall resume with those players serving and receiving who should be server and receiver respectively at the score that has been reached, according to the sequence established at the beginning of the match and, in doubles, to the order of serving chosen by the pair having the right to serve first in the game during which the error is discovered.
14.2  If the players have not changed ends when they should have done so, play shall be interrupted by the umpire as soon as the error is discovered and shall resume with the players at the ends at which they should be at the score that has been reached, according to the sequence established at the beginning of the match.
14.3  In any circumstances, all points scored before the discovery of an error shall be reckoned.

15.   The Expedite System
15.1  Except where both players or pairs have scored at least 9 points, the expedite system shall come into operation if a game is unfinished after 10 minutes' play or at any earlier time at the request of both players or pairs.
15.1.1 If the ball is in play when the time limit is reached, play shall be interrupted by the umpire and shall resume with service by the player who served in the rally that was interrupted.
15.1.2 If the ball is not in play when the time limit is reached, play shall resume with service by the player who received in the immediately preceding rally.
15.2  Thereafter, each player shall serve for 1 point in turn until the end of the game and if the receiving player or pair makes 13 returns the receiver shall score a point.
15.3  Once introduced, the expedite system shall remain in operation until the end of the match.

16.   Equipment and playing conditions
16.1  The covering material on a side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be of a brand and type currently authorized by the ITTF and shall be attached to the blade so that the brand and the ITTF logo are clearly visible near the edge of the striking surface.
16.2  Playing Clothing
16.2.1 Playing clothing shall normally consist of a short-sleeved or sleeveless shirt and shorts or skirt or one-part sports outfits, socks and playing shoes; other garments, such as part or all of a track suit, shall not be worn during play except with the permission of the referee.
16.2.2 The main color of a shirt, skirt or shorts, other than sleeves and collar of a shirt shall be clearly different from that of the ball in use.
16.2.3 The players of a team taking part in a team match, and players of the same Association forming a doubles pair in a World or Olympic Title Competition, shall be dressed uniformly, with the possible exception of socks, shoes and the number, size, color and design of advertisements on clothing. Players of the same Association forming a doubles pair in other international competitions may wear clothes of different manufacturers, if the basic colors are the same and their National Association authorizes this procedure.
16.2.4 Opposing players and pairs shall wear shirts that are of sufficiently different colors to enable them to be easily distinguished by spectators.
16.2.4 Where opposing players or teams have a similar shirt and cannot agree which of them will change, the decision shall be made by the umpire by lot.
16.3  Advertisements
16.3.1 Advertisements on playing clothing shall be limited to
16.3.1.1 the maker's normal trademark, symbol or name contained within a total area of 24cm2;
16.3.1.2 not more than 6 clearly separated advertisements, contained within a combined total area of 600 cm2, on the front, side or shoulder of a shirt, with not more than 4 advertisements on the front;
16.3.1.3 not more than 2 advertisements, contained within a total area of 400cm2, on the back of a shirt;
16.3.1.4 not more than 2 advertisements, contained within a combined total area of 80cm2, on shorts or skirt.
16.3.2 There shall be no advertisements on players' clothing or numbers for tobacco goods, alcoholic drinks or harmful drugs.

17.   Match Officials
17.1  Referee
17.1.1 deciding whether play may be suspended in an emergency;
17.1.2 The referee, or a responsible deputy appointed to exercise authority in his absence, shall be present at all times during play.
17.1.3 Players shall be under the jurisdiction of the referee from the time at which they arrive at the playing venue until they leave it.
17.2  Umpire, Assistant Umpire and Stroke Counter
17.2.1 An umpire and an assistant umpire shall be appointed for each match.
17.2.2 Either the assistant umpire or a separate official may act as stroke counter, to count the strokes of the receiving player or pair when the expedite system is in operation;
17.2.3 A decision made by assistant umpire or stroke counter in accordance with the provisions of 3.3.2.5-6 may not be overruled by the umpire.
17.2.4 Players shall be under the jurisdiction of the umpire from the time at which they arrive at the playing area until they leave it.

18.   Match Conduct
18.1  Score Indication
18.1.1 The umpire shall call the score as soon as the ball is out of play at the completion of a rally, or as soon as is practicable thereafter.
18.1.1.1 In calling the score during a game the umpire shall call first the number of points scored by the player or pair due to serve in the next rally of the game and then the number of points scored by the opposing player or pair.
18.1.1.2 At the beginning of a game and when a change of server is due, the umpire shall point to the next server, and may also follow the score call with the next server's name.
18.1.1.3 At the end of a game the umpire shall name the winning player or pair and shall then call the number of points scored by the winning player or pair followed by the number of points scored by the losing player or pair.
18.1.2 In addition to calling the score the umpire may use hand signals to indicate his decisions.
18.2  Equipment
18.2.1 Players shall not choose balls in the playing area.
18.2.1.1 Wherever possible players shall be given the opportunity to choose one or more balls before coming to the playing area and the match shall be played with one of these balls, taken at random by the umpire.
18.2.1.2 If a ball has not been chosen before players come to the playing area, the match shall be played with a ball taken at random by the umpire from a box of those specified for the competition.
18.2.1.3 If a ball is damaged during a match, it shall be replaced by another of those chosen before the match or, if such a ball is not available, by one taken at random by the umpire from a box of those specified for the competition.

19.   Practice
19.1  Players are entitled to practice on the match table for up to 2 minutes immediately before the start of a match but not during normal intervals; the specified practice period may be extended only with the permission of the referee.

20.   Intervals
20.1  Play shall be continuous throughout an individual match except that any player is entitled to
20.1.1 an interval of up to 1 minute between successive games of an individual match;
20.1.2 brief intervals for toweling after every 6 points from the start of each game and at the change of ends in the last possible game of a an individual match.
20.2 A player or pair may claim one time-out period of up to 1 minute during an individual match.
20.2.1 In an individual event the request for a time-out may be made by the player or pair or by the designated adviser; in a team event it may be made by the player or pair or by the team captain.
20.2.2 If a player or pair and an adviser or captain disagree whether a time-out is to be taken, the final decision shall be made by the player or pair in an individual event and by the captain in a team event.
20.2.3 The request for a time-out, which may be made only when the ball is out of play, shall be indicated by making a "T" sign with the hands.
20.2.4 The referee may allow a suspension of play, of the shortest practical duration, and in no circumstances more than 10 minutes, if a player is temporarily incapacitated by an accident, provided that in the opinion of the referee the suspension is not likely to be unduly disadvantageous to the opposing player or pair.
20.2.5 A suspension shall not be allowed for a disability which was present or was reasonably to be expected at the beginning of the match, or where it is due to the normal stress of play; disability such as cramp or exhaustion, caused by the player's current state of fitness or by the manner in which play has proceeded, does not justify such an emergency suspension, which may be allowed only for incapacity resulting from an accident, such as injury caused by a fall. 20.2.6 If anyone in the playing area is bleeding, play shall be suspended immediately and shall not resume until that person has received medical treatment and all traces of blood have been removed from the playing area.
20.2.7 Players shall remain in or near the playing area throughout an individual match, except with the permission of the referee; during intervals between games and time-outs they shall remain within 3 meters of the playing area, under the supervision of the umpire.

21.   Discipline
21.1  Advice
21.1.1 In a team event, players may receive advice from anyone.
21.1.2 In an individual event, a player or pair may receive advice only from one person, designated beforehand to the umpire, except that where the players of a doubles pair are from different Associations each may designate an adviser, but with regard to 3.5.1 and 3.5.2 these two advisors shall be treated as a unit; if an unauthorized person gives advice the umpire shall hold up a red card and send him away from the playing area.
21.1.3 Players may receive advice only during the intervals between games or during other authorized suspension of play, and not between the end of practice and the start of a match; if any authorized person gives advice at other times the umpire shall hold up a yellow card to warn him that any further such offence will result in his dismissal from the playing area.
21.1.4 After a warning has been given, if in the same team match or the same match of an individual event anyone again gives advice illegally, the umpire shall hold up a red card and send him away from the playing area, whether or not he was the person warned.
21.2  Misbehavior
21.2.1 If at any time a player, a coach or another adviser commits a serious offence the umpire shall suspend play and report immediately to the referee; for less serious offences the umpire may, on the first occasion, hold up a yellow card and warn the offender that any further offence is liable to incur penalties.
21.2.2 Except as provided in 3.5.2.2 and 3.5.2.5, if a player who has been warned commits a second offence in the same individual match or team match, the umpire shall award 1 point to the offender's opponent and for a further offence he shall award 2 points, each time holding up a yellow and a red card together.
21.2.3 If a player against whom 3 penalty points have been awarded in the same individual match or team match continues to misbehave, the umpire shall suspend play and report immediately to the referee.
21.2.4 If a player changes his racket during an individual match when it has not been damaged, the umpire shall suspend play and report to the referee.
21.2.5 A warning or penalty incurred by either player of a doubles pair shall apply to the pair, but not to the non-offending player in a subsequent individual match of the same team match; at the start of a doubles match the pair shall be regarded as having incurred the higher of any warnings or penalties incurred by either player in the same team match.
21.2.6 Except as provided in 3.5.2.2, if a coach or another adviser who has been warned commits a further offence in the same individual match or team match, the umpire shall hold up a red card and send him away from the playing area until the end of the team match or, in an individual event, of the individual match.
21.2.7 The referee shall have power to disqualify a player from a match, an event or a competition for seriously unfair or offensive behavior, whether reported by the umpire or not; as he does so he shall hold up a red card.

22.   - Expedite Procedure
22.1  Principle
22.1.1 The expedite system is the method provided by the laws to prevent unduly long games, which may result from negative play by both players or pairs. Unless both players or pairs have scored at least 9 points, it is introduced automatically after 10 minutes' play in a game or at any earlier time at the request of both players or pairs.
22.1.2 Under the expedite system the serving player or pair has 13 strokes including the service stroke in which to win the point. If the receiving player or pair safely makes 13 good returns, the receiving player or pair wins the point. The game is won, as in normal play, by the player or pair first scoring 11 points or, if the score reaches 10-10, by the player or pair first establishing a lead of 2 points.
22.1.3 The serving order throughout each game is the same as for a normal game, but service changes after each point instead of after every 2 points. At the start of each game the first server, and in doubles the first receiver, is determined by the order established at the start of the match, even though the same players may have been serving and receiving at the conclusion of the preceding game.
22.2  Procedure
22.2.1When the time limit is reached, unless the score has reached at least 9 - 9, the timekeeper should call "Time" loudly. The umpire should then declare a let if necessary and tell the players that the remainder of the match will be conducted under the expedite system. If the ball is in play when the time limit is reached, the next server is the player who served for that rally; if it is not in play, the next server is the player who received in the preceding rally.
22.2.2 Thereafter, in each rally the stroke counter is required to count aloud the return strokes of the receiving player or pair, including the return of service, from "one" to "thirteen". The call should be made immediately after the receiver has struck the ball and not delayed until the return has been judged good or the ball has gone out of play. If the 13th return is good the umpire should call "stop" and award a point to the receiver.