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.

100 thoughts on “Service Rules | PingSkills | Table Tennis

  1. How about someone who purposefully or intentionally distracts you by dropping or throwing the ball against blade (hard bat with pips) 3 to 5 times before each service to distract you or break your concentration? Must not the ball remain at rest for a second before it is served?

  2. hello,can I share this video to Baidu Pingpong forum? I'd like to share it and translate to Chinese for those who are also confuse with service rules. I will put your channel link with the video, please reply if you permit.:-)

  3. Ok, I want to know who are these 122 super dumbasses who gave this highly informative and helpful video a thumbs down?

  4. 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:

    Jeff & Alois

  5. Cheers guys thanks for the vid but is legal for the ball to hit the opposition's side on the edge? Like an easy serve to win the point but not easy to perform ?


  7. I'm not sure where on Earth I read it. But I had read that it was illegal to serve and have the ball travel backwards or of the sides of the table. Based on what I'm seeing that is incorrect. I'm wondering 1 why that would have been listed somewhere (is there a situation where that is a rule like in a handicap match) and 2 why don't I see more serves going off the side of the table or backwards? Is it just that easy to defend? Cause in my limited experience both are hard to defend even when you anticipate them coming.

  8. Four service rules missing.
    1. As someone has already pointed out, the ball should be descending, you can't strike the ball on the way up.
    2. The hand that the ball is resting on must be stationary before the ball is tossed up.
    3. The ball must bounce on your court before going over the net and then touch your opponents court.
    4. If the ball touches the net or its supports on the way over it's a let (no ball) serve, and must be served again.
    NOTE No.3 The word touch was substituted for bounce for the opponents court, as if the ball clips the edge of the table (not side) the ball does not effectively bounce. If the ball does touch (clip) the edge of the table, the service is deemed good.

  9. place the ball on the palm of the hand
    always behind the endlines
    no spin
    no throw up under the table.
    throw up the ball at least 6 cm
    throw up the ball vertically
    doubles, you need to serve from right hand box to the right hand box.

  10. Hey there, i want to know that suppose while doing serve the ball strikes on our side and then it strikes twice on other side then is it considered legal or not ?

  11. Hi PingSkills! I have a question about the serving rules. If you hit the ball and it doesn't go over the net does the opponent get the point or do you serve it again?

  12. this is an old post so I wonder if anyone will answer, but I'm trying anyway 🙂 is it true that as soon as the ball leaves my hand the serve is begun and I cannot take it back to repeat the toss? and that anything happens after the toss the service won't be repeated? (i.e. no contact with the bat, no contact with the table, ball going backwards and so on). Thank you!

  13. Is it okay to server from the side, where the server and ball are behind the line, but also so far to the side that the ball enters from the side of the table?

  14. I see most of the right handed Chinese players serve with their left leg planted under the table beyond the the serve line. Is that correct? I have always tried to mimic them.

  15. Hello, Alois, is there a rule defining how far away from the table should the player stay? Could I serve from further back, like 1-2 meters away from the table?

  16. I play with this one friend during P.E. , and he always gets me with his serves. He pretty much grabs the ball, puts his hand like 5 cm behind the table line, and like 5cm above the table itself (literally almost ON the table), then he just lets go of it and hits it. The result of that is pretty much him putting a ball that lands in the corner of my side of the table in the angle of 10 degrees. I've always told him that he's doing it wrong, but he'd be like "eeeeh what do you know, i've seen people on tournaments serve like that".Thank for this, now I can wreck him the next time.

  17. Can you serve the ball at an angle so that it goes off the side of the table after hitting the returners side? And one more question. What happens if you do an otherwise legal serve with a lot of backspin so that it bounces on the return side then bounces back over to the serving side without the return guy touching it?

  18. Service Rules:
    1. Make sure the service is high quality
    2. Don't take forever
    3. Make sure nothing is hazardous or dangerous
    4. Clearly communicate
    5. Always have a smile on your face
    6. And please, be polite and respectful

    Edit: Ohh, that kind of service…

  19. Can someone please clear my doubt. I was told that the ball shall not touch the opponent's court twice while I serve.
    But what about a short serve?
    Can the ball pitch twice on the opponent's court while serving??

  20. Almost every top player throws the ball up and towards their body, hiding the serve contact from the opponent. The rules are clear and the umpire should call every bad service, but most don't want to be the one that enforces the rules. Once you're known as a serve "Nazi", no one wants you to umpire the match.

  21. What if while serving I touch the ball behind the line but my TT racket crosses the end line of table after touching…is it still legal??

  22. thanks dude. Helped my son and I after purchasing our first full table , never would have though there was so many rules .

  23. I thought he was just kidding when he said it was illegal to serve with out tossing it 16cm in the air so i didn't and got 6months hard time. They said i was lucky i did that at practice since i would probably get life in prison had i done it at a tournament…

    Kids stay in school, don´t do drugs and for god´s sake only do legal serves!

  24. Can you serve the ball to the side of the table on the opponents side? (So u serve after one bounce on both sides of the table can the ball go out from the side) is it illigal or not?

  25. Nice vid! Does the bat have to remain behind the line (table edge, -not the line down the middle) of the table, or can it proceed forward to cross that edge with the follow through of the serve?

  26. 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?

  27. 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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