Rules To Play Ping Pong

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Ping Pong is a game of discipline and speed. What holds these two are the rules. There was a time when some fun seeking Victorians accidentally invented this game of Ping Pong, when, even this game didn’t even have any name. It travelled through time to reach the present day when it has been equipped with everything that it needs, from patents to rules. One needs to be fully trained in the tricks and drunk on the rules in order to set foot into a serious Ping Pong game, or, if it’s a recreational step or a hobby that you want to try out; either way, Ping Pong Beast is the right place for you. Amateur or professional, this page has something for everyone.

Points- 21 or 11? 

Up until 2001, Ping Pong was played up to 21 points. But later, to make it more exciting and more critical, and to have more “crucial” points…basically, to make the game more appealing to TV viewers, the rules have been changed.

Now its 11 points that a game of Ping Pong is played for. The winner, thus, is either the player or the pair that first scores 11 points, unless there’s a situation that both the players or both the pairs score 10 points  (called deuce). In that case the game would be in the favor of the first player or the pair to gain a two-point lead. 

Did You Know? 

Compared to today’s Ping Pong balls, the earlier ones were highly inflammable. This is because of the fact that they used nitrocellulose in the making of a Ping Pong ball, which catches fire easily.

How To Start?

Before beginning, you always need to decide on who’s going to start the game. Officially the serve is decided by a toss or a lot. But, on lower levels, one player or the umpire would hide the ball in one of his hands and then hide both the hands under the table. He then asks the opponent or the players to guess which hand the ball is in. This decides on who’s going to play first. 

Even though the winner of the toss usually serves first, they also have the opportunity to choose- 

  • To serve first
  • To make the opponent serve first
  • To decide which on the end of the table he/she wants to play. 

If the toss winner chooses the side of the table, the opponent has the chance to choose to serve first or let the opponent do so. 

If the toss winner chooses the serve, the opponent can then choose the side of the table he/she would like to play from. 

Ping Pong Serving Rules: 

The serving rules have been made and remade a number of times ever since it first came into existence. However, the service rules still remain simple and easy to understand. But, this again, doesn’t mean the game is easy. The easier the rules are, the trickier the game becomes. 

  • The one to serve has to stand behind the white line (end)  of the table to serve. 
  • The basic serve includes holding the ball in the non-playing palm and throwing it up into the air (not gripping it). 
  • As the ball goes up into the air, you need to hit it with the paddle and let it fall to the other side of the net, to your opponent’s side. 
  • If your opponent allows bouncing of the ball for more than once, they’ll then lose the point. 
  • The ball is allowed to bounce on any side of the table, and also, unlike Table Tennis, here you don’t have to serve to only one part of the table if it’s not a doubles game. 

You can check more on the ‘serves’ and their specifications in ‘How to serve in Ping Pong like an expert?’ 

  • If the ball passes touching the net and bounces on your opponent’s table, you get to reserve. 
  • If the ball touches the net but doesn’t reach your opponent’s table, you’ll lose the point here. 
  • The ball remains in the ‘in-play’ from the moment the server throws it up to the air.

Did You Know? 

The colors accepted for making Ping Pong balls are Orange and White. Orange is mostly used in a casual game, while White is for tournaments.

Returning The Serve: 

  • The opponent has to hit the ball and must ensue it reaches the server side, bouncing there once. 
  • If the opponent allows the ball to bounce more than one in his/her side, the point is lost. 
  • If the server hits the ball, it touches the net and doesn’t reach the opponent, the point is awarded to the opponent. 
  • If it reaches right to the opponent and the opponent hits it correctly, the rally continues. 

Playing Doubles: 

In a game of doubles, Ping Pong again offers 2 serves to the player. The service alternates after two points between sides, like in single, only here, it also alternates between the partners. 

  • After every two points, the player who reverts becomes the server, and then the partner of the server becomes the receiver.
  • Unlike in the singles, here the ball must bounce only and only on the right-half portion of the Ping Pong table for both the serving player and the receiver.
  • Once the receiver returns the ball, the server’s partner needs to hit it next, followed by the receiving player’s partner, and so on.
  • The rally goes on like this and if someone misses the ball or hits it out of turn, they lose a point. 

How To Score & What Not To Do: 

In order to be the winner, you need to keep the ball into action more than your opponent, and also, keep following the basic rules and grips to be a pro in it. 

Getting good in a game involves knowing what no to do, i.e, knowing about doing what can make you lose points. You can miss a point if: 

  • You fail to do the right serve. 
  • You allow the ball to bounce more than once in your side. 
  • You do not hit the ball after it reaches your side. 
  • Your ball doesn’t hit the opponent’s side. 
  • You hit the ball before the bounce. 
  • You put your nonplaying hand on the table or slid it. This applies to the net as well. 
  • You obstruct the ball with your body or cloth. 
  • You hit the ball out of your turn in the doubles game. 

Did You Know? 

Balls of Fury, a popular movie of 2007 based on the life of a Ping Pong champion.


A sport isn’t a sport until all the rules for it are followed. If it’s just a hobby you have recently acquired or it’s something you’re very passionate about, either way you need to have a good understanding of the regulations, only then can you be called a good player. Keep following Ping Pong Beast to keep getting knowledge about your favorite game.


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