Table tennis rules and regulations

Courtesy of the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation)

2.1.1 The upper surface of the table, known as the playing surface, shall be rectangular, 9 ft long and 5 ft wide, and shall lie in a horizontal plane 2.5 ft above the floor.

2.1.2 The playing surface shall not include the vertical sides of the tabletop.

2.1.3 The playing surface may be of any material and shall yield a uniform bounce of about 9.1 in when a standard ball is dropped on to it from a height of 11.8 in.

2.1.4 The playing surface shall be uniformly dark coloured and matte, but with a white side line, 0.79 in wide, along each 9 ft edge and a white end line, 0.79 in wide, along each 5 ft edge.

2.1.5 The playing surface shall be divided into 2 equal courts by a vertical net running parallel with the end lines, and shall be continuous over the whole area of each court.

2.1.6 For doubles, each court shall be divided into 2 equal half-courts by a white centre line, 0.12 in wide, running parallel with the side lines; the centre line shall be regarded as part of each right half-court.

2.2.1 The net assembly shall consist of the net, its suspension and the supporting posts, including the clamps attaching them to the table.

2.2.2 The net shall be suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 6 in high, the outside limits of the post being 6 in outside the side line.

2.2.3 The top of the net, along its whole length, shall be 6 in above the playing surface.

2.2.4 The bottom of the net, along its whole length, shall be as close as possible to the playing surface and the ends of the net shall be as close as possible to the supporting posts.

2.3.1 The ball shall be spherical, with a diameter of 40mm.

2.3.2 The ball shall weigh 2.7g.

2.3.3 The ball shall be made of celluloid or similar plastics material and shall be white or orange, and matt.

2.4.1 The racket may be of any size, shape or weight but the blade shall be flat and rigid.

2.4.2 At least 85% of the blade by thickness shall be of natural wood; an adhesive layer within the blade may be reinforced with fibrous material such as carbon fibre, glass fibre or compressed paper, but shall not be thicker than 7.5% of the total thickness or 0.35mm, whichever is the smaller.

2.4.3 A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2mm, or sandwich rubber, with pimples inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4mm.

2.4.3.1 Ordinary pimpled rubber is a single layer of non-cellular rubber, natural or synthetic, with pimples evenly distributed over its surface at a density of not less than 10 per sq. cm and not more than 30 per sq. cm.

2.4.3.2 Sandwich rubber is a single layer of cellular rubber covered with a single outer layer of ordinary pimpled rubber, the thickness of the pimpled rubber not being more than 2mm.

2.4.4 The covering material shall extend up to but not beyond the limits of the blade, except that the part nearest the handle and gripped by the fingers may be left uncovered or covered with any material.

2.4.5 The blade, any layer within the blade and any layer of covering material or adhesive on a side used for striking the ball shall be continuous and of even thickness.

2.4.6 The surface of the covering material on a side of the blade, or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, bright red on one side and black on the other.

2.4.7 The covering material should be used as it has been authorised by the ITTF without any physical, chemical or other treatment, changing or modifying playing properties, friction, outlook, colour, structure, surface, etc.

2.4.7.1 Slight deviations from continuity of surface or uniformity of colour due to accidental damage or wear may be allowed provided that they do not significantly change the characteristics of the surface.

2.4.8 At the start of a match and whenever he changes his racket during a match a player shall show his opponent and the umpire the racket he is about to use and shall allow them to examine it.

2.5.1 A rally is the period during which the ball is in play.

2.5.2 The ball is in play from the last moment at which it is stationary on the palm of the free hand before being intentionally projected in service until the rally is decided as a let or a point.

2.5.3 A let is a rally of which the result is not scored.

2.5.4 A point is a rally of which the result is scored.

2.5.5 The racket hand is the hand carrying the racket.

2.5.6 The free hand is the hand not carrying the racket; the free arm is the arm of the free hand.

2.5.7 A player strikes the ball if he touches it in play with his racket, held in the hand, or with his racket hand below the wrist.

2.5.8 A player obstructs the ball if he, or anything he wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or travelling towards the playing surface, not having touched his court since last being struck by his opponent.

2.5.9 The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally.

2.5.10 The receiver is the player due to strike the ball second in a rally.

2.5.11 The umpire is the person appointed to control a match.

2.5.12 The assistant umpire is the person appointed to assist the umpire with certain decisions.

2.5.13 Anything that a player wears or carries includes anything that he was wearing or carrying, other than the ball, at the start of the rally.

2.5.14 The ball shall be regarded as passing over or around the net assembly if it passes anywhere other than between the net and the net post or between the net and the playing surface.

2.5.15 The end line shall be regarded as extending indefinitely in both directions.

2.6.1 Service shall start with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the server’s stationary free hand.

2.6.2 The server shall then project the ball near vertically upwards, without imparting spin, so that it rises at least 16cm after leaving the palm of the free hand and then falls without touching anything before being struck.

2.6.3 As the ball is falling the server shall strike it so that it touches first his court and then, after passing over or around the net assembly, touches directly the receiver’s court; in doubles, the ball shall touch successively the right half court of server and receiver.

2.6.4 From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server’s end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry.

2.6.5 As soon as the ball has been projected, the server’s free arm and hand shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net. The space between the ball and the net is defined by the ball, the net and its indefinite upward extension.

2.6.6 It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can see that he complies with the requirements for a correct service.

2.6.6.1 If the umpire is doubtful of the legality of a service he may, on the first occasion in a match, declare a let and warn the server.

2.6.6.2 Any subsequent service of doubtful legality of that player or his doubles partner will result in a point to the receiver.

2.6.6.3 Whenever there is a clear failure to comply with the requirements for a correct service, no warning shall be given and the receiver shall score a point.

2.6.7 Exceptionally, the umpire may relax the requirements for a correct service where he is satisfied that compliance is prevented by physical disability.

2.7.1 The ball, having been served or returned, shall be struck so that it passes over or around the net assembly and touches the opponent’s court, either directly or after touching the net assembly.

2.8.1 In singles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return and thereafter server and receiver alternately shall each make a return.

2.8.2 In doubles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return, the partner of the server shall then make a return, the partner of the receiver shall then make a return and thereafter each player in turn in that sequence shall make a return.

2.8.3 When two players who are in wheelchairs due to a physical disability are a pair playing doubles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return but thereafter either player of the disabled pair may make returns. However, no part of a player’s wheelchair shall protrude beyond the imaginary extension of the centre line of the table. If it does, the umpire shall award the point to the opposing pair.

2.9.1 The rally shall be a let

2.9.1.1 if in service the ball, in passing over or around the net assembly, touches it, provided the service is otherwise correct or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his partner;

2.9.1.2 if the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his partner attempts to strike the ball;

2.9.1.3 if failure to make a service or a return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player;

2.9.1.4 if play is interrupted by the umpire or assistant umpire;

2.9.1.5 if the receiver is in wheelchair due to a physical disability and in service the ball, provided that the service is otherwise correct,

2.9.1.5.1 leaves the receiver’s court after touching it in the direction of the net ;

2.9.1.5.2 comes to rest on the receiver’s court;

2.9.1.5.3 in singles leaves the receiver’s court after touching it by either of its sidelines.

2.9.2 Play may be interrupted

2.9.2.1 to correct an error in the order of serving, receiving or ends;

2.9.2.2 to introduce the expedite system;

2.9.2.3 to warn or penalise a player or adviser;

2.9.2.4 because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally.

2.10.1 Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point

2.10.1.1 if his opponent fails to make a correct service;

2.10.1.2 if his opponent fails to make a correct return;

2.10.1.3 if, after he has made a service or a return, the ball touches anything other than the net assembly before being struck by his opponent;

2.10.1.4 if the ball passes over his court or beyond his end line without touching his court, after being struck by his opponent;

2.10.1.5 if his opponent obstructs the ball;

2.10.1.6 if his opponent strikes the ball twice successively;

2.10.1.7 if his opponent strikes the ball with a side of the racket blade whose surface does not comply with the requirements of 2.4.3, 2.4.4 and 2.4.5;

2.10.1.8 if his opponent, or anything his opponent wears or carries, moves the playing surface;

2.10.1.9 if his opponent, or anything his opponent wears or carries, touches the net assembly;

2.10.1.10 if his opponent’s free hand touches the playing surface;

2.10.1.11 if a doubles opponent strikes the ball out of the sequence established by the first server and first receiver;

2.10.1.12 as provided under the expedite system (2.15.2).