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Table Tennis (ping pong) Rules for Beginners

Updated on February 3, 2012

Table Tennis

Table tennis rules for beginners is aimed at those who are just starting out in the sport. Table tennis is a great game, which can be quickly and easily improved, It is fast moving and requires good eye hand co-ordination.

The rules are pretty straightforward and simple but we will go through them all in this hub.I mean you don't want to look like a fool while playing,so learn all the table tennis rules so that you don't look like such a beginner. Do you know how to:

  1. serve legally?
  2. The scoring structure?
  3. Facts about the equipment used?

if your answer to any of those was no then you need to read on to make sure that you don't play like the video below.

How not to play Table Tennis

Table Tennis Rules for beginners: Scoring

A Typical Scoring card.
A Typical Scoring card.

Table Tennis Rules for beginners


  • Normally a match is played either 3 of 5 or 4 of 7 games, so it is up to you how many games you want to play.
  • A point is scored when your opposition fails to make a legal return
  • Anyone can score points, it doesn't matter who's serve it is.
  • A game is won by the first player to score 11 points.
  • This must be by a 2 point margin, otherwise play continues until it is by two clear points.
  • Edges of the table are part of the legal play area.
  • Sides of the table are not.

Table Tennis Scoring

Table Tennis Rules: The Serve

Hand position is all important in the Table Tennis serve.
Hand position is all important in the Table Tennis serve.

The Flow of table tennis

So each player has serves for two points each and then the serve is switched to the other player. If the score reaches 10-10 then you only serve fort a single point and then the serves are switched.

At the end of each game the players switch sides of the table.


A legal service consists of

  1. The ball must start on an open palmed hand.
  2. Be thrown up a minimum of 6 inches.
  3. When Hit it needs to bounce on the side of the server first and then over on to the oppositions side.
  4. If on a legal serve the ball touches the net, then this is known as a let and this is not scored, and the serve is retaken

Variety of different table tennis serving tequniques

Choosing your table tennis equipment

Table Tennis for Beginners: Equipment

The table should be 2.74 meters long, 1.525m wide, and 0.76m high. The playing surface does not include the sides of the table and the surface should produce a uniform bounce of 23cm when a ball is dropped from 30cm.

The paddle should have a red and a black side, 85% by thickness of the paddle has to be made of wood, but the size does not matter which seems very strange.

The ball should be white or orange, should be spherical with a diameter of 40mm and should weigh 2.7g


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    • dipless profile image

      dipless 5 years ago from Manchester

      I wouldn't say interesting read, table tennis is a fairly dry subject, but the addition of friends helps lighten any topic :D But glad you now know a tiny bit more. As for the competitions, it's the shear pace that they play at i can't even keep up with the ball.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      The world of table tennis- the various competitions and everything- fascinates me! This was quite the interesting read. I'm glad to know a bit more about the actual game now!

    • dipless profile image

      dipless 5 years ago from Manchester

      Yeah sadly I'd love to woo you with tails of rouge ping pong balls causing a collapse of the roof and I courageously saved 3 people from the building with a badly broken arm. But it was I went for a shot with to much gusto and missed fell over catching my wrist on the table and broke it. Impressive for such a risky sport :p

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Broke your arm???? LOL!! Now that is a story we've got to hear! :)

    • dipless profile image

      dipless 5 years ago from Manchester

      Thank you - I haven't played in years which is why it was nice to write as it brought back all kinds of memories, in fact, I broke my arm playing table tennis, but shhhh don't tell anyone ;)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Cool hub - I learned a lot about table tennis. I've watched the game played, but never tried it myself. Fast game that requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. rated up! Best, Steph