JOOLA's Yue Wu Photo by USATT's Matt Hetherington
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How to Play Table Tennis (Basic Rules of PingPong)

The Basics

  • Format: Singles (1️⃣ vs. 1️⃣) or Doubles (2️⃣ vs.2️⃣)
  • Area of Play: The table surface – 9ft (2.74m) x 5ft (1.525m)
  • Main Objective: Be the first to win 3 sets
  • To Win a Set: The player must be the first to score 11 points, and be at least 2 points ahead

The Rules of Play

The Player…

✅ Must:

  • Serve legally
  • Hit the ball inside the area of play
  • Return the ball after it’s bounced only once on their side of the table
  • Only touch the ball with the racket (no body parts)

❌ Must Not:

  • Hit the ball twice in one turn
  • Return the ball before the ball has bounced once on their side of the table
  • Touch the table with non-playing hand during play

 👯 Doubles Only Rules:

  • Team must alternate which player serves/hits the ball each turn
HW Global's Stanley Hsu serves a ball at a tournament

The Serve

  • Ball must be served from behind the table
  • Ball must be launched at least 6inches into the air
  • Ball must bounce at least once on each side of the table
  • A player/team is given 2 serves, then the opposition is given 2 serves
  • In the event of a deuce (tie before winning point), each player/team is only given 1 serve

The Return

  • Player will return the ball and attempt to make their opponent miss the return
  • Ongoing returns are also called a rally
JOOLA's Sharon Alguetti at an ICC Table Tennis Tournament

The Scoring Point

  • Player must hit the ball over the net to the opposition’s side of the table without them returning the ball
  • Violation of any of the rules of play (above) will result in the opponent being awarded a point
JOOLA'S Adar Alguetti after scoring a point at a USATT tournament

The Win

  • To win a set, the player must be the first to score 11 points, and be at least 2 points ahead
    • If the score is A: 11 – B: 10, then A would have to win 12:10
  • To win a match (main objective), the player must be the first to win 3 sets

About Polina Tai

Polina is the Digital Marketing & Communications Coordinator for JOOLA Global and JOOLA USA, where she handles social media, public relations, copywriting, and other marketing efforts. She is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and describes herself as passionately curious.
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