Service Rules | PingSkills | Table Tennis

Service Rules | PingSkills | Table Tennis


We all want to have a fantastic serve but
it’s no use going to a tournament and getting faulted all the time so you need to know the
rules. The first rule I want you to know about is
that you must have a flat hand when serving and the ball must be in the palm of your hand. Now when people first start out in table tennis
they often hold the ball in their fingers but you can’t do that, it’s illegal. So make
sure you get a flat hand and you put the ball in the palm of your hand. Now the reason this
rule came about is that so you can’t spin the ball up as you’re tossing it up because
that would make it much harder for the receiver and so to simplify things you have to throw
it up without imparting any spin on the ball. Now when you throw it up you have to be behind
the end line of the table and you also have to contact the ball behind the end line of
the table. So you can’t throw it up and then hit the ball in front of this line and you
can’t throw it up from in front even if you hit it behind. So make sure you’re always
behind the end line of the table. Now the other thing is you can’t throw it up from
below the table because the opponent has to see the ball throughout the serve so you must
throw it up from above the level of the table. Now you may be wondering can you serve from
out wider than this sideline of the table? And the answer is yes as long as you are behind
the extension of this imaginary line coming out from the end of the table. Now the next important rule I want you to
learn is about the service toss. When you are serving you must throw the ball up at
least 6 inches or 16cm. That’s about the height of the net or about the width of your bat.
Now a lot of people when they’re first starting out they just serve the ball straight out
of their hand but that’s illegal, you can’t do that. So make sure when you serve you throw
the ball up so that it clears your hand by at least 16cm. When you throw the ball up you must throw
it near vertical. You can’t throw it backwards to the side or you can’t throw it back in
towards yourself. Now most players will throw the ball up and it will move a little bit
but the rule is really there to stop you just throwing the ball straight into you bat. But
just to be safe try and practice throwing it up as close to vertical as you can. Now the next rule is quite contentious.The
principle behind it is that your opponent must be able to see the ball the whole time
throughout the serve. So you can’t throw the ball up and get your arm in the way as you’re
hitting the ball. So you throw the ball up, get your arm out of the way and serve so your
opponent can see the ball the whole time. Now another way to think about it is if you
take the net posts and the triangle that’s formed between them and the ball that must
be clear throughout the entire serve. A really common question I get is where can
you serve from and where can you serve to? Now in singles you can serve from anywhere
to anywhere. This line down the middle is only used for doubles. In doubles you have to serve from the right hand box to the right hand box.

8 thoughts on “Service Rules | PingSkills | Table Tennis

  • I hope this cleared up some rules for you. If you are interested we have a whole series of videos on the rules which you can find on our website: https://www.pingskills.com/tutorials/table-tennis-rules

    Cheers,
    Jeff & Alois

  • Jeff and Alois, I have a QUESTION PLEASE! I know that you are supposed to throw the ball up at least 16cms. But let's suppose that a player throws the ball up but his throwing hand follows the ball upwards; in other words, whilst the ball travels upwards for at least 16cms it never gets more than say 5cm above the servers hand, would that be a legal serve?

  • I have heard from numerous people that when serving, the ball must exit on the far end line on your opponent's court and cannot go off the left or the right side. However, i have never found anything to back this up. Can someone let me know on what the official rules have to say about this?

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