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How big may a paddle be?

Any size is legal. In exhibitions I have used a teeny little 3" x 3" paddle, and I have used a huge pizza ladle. Both were legal! A paddle may be of any size, shape or weight as long as it is flat and rigid and of even thickness.

I want to use the maximum thickness of racket covering. I notice that the thickest sponge thickness the Paddle Palace has is 2.5mm. Is it legal to use rubber that is thicker than that?

The total allowable thickness of sandwich rubber (pips-out or pips-in rubber with sponge) is 4.0mm. The rubber sheets at the Paddle Palace that have 2.5mm sponge or "Max" sponge, are the thickest legal under ITTF regulations. When you add the measurement of the 2.5mm sponge to the measurement of the rubber attached to the sponge, the thickness is at the 4.0mm maximum. Also, the thickness of the rubber sheet itself (measured without the sponge) cannot be more than 2.0mm.

I am interested in using a fiberglass paddle. Is that legal?

A paddle could be part fiberglass (or part carbon fibre or part compressed paper...) if it is no thicker than 7.5% of the total thickness of the blade, and no more than a thickness of 0.35mm.. At least 85% of the blade by thickness must be of natural wood.

I am confused. Is it legal or is it not legal to reglue?

Yes, it is now legal to reglue your rubber as long as you use ITTF-approved glue. (The ITTF revised an earlier decision that had banned all liquid glues.) The reason sited for the original ban was the health hazard involved in inhaling some components of glue. The ITTF-approved glues do not have any of the worst identified toxins.

My opponent hit the ball at an angle. I lunged to the floor at the side of the table and managed to return it, from my prone position, onto my opponent's end of the table. The ball actually went around the net. Who gets the point?

Congratulations, you get the point. The ball does not have to go over the net, it can go around it.

One of my opponents kept changing his paddle during our match. It threw me off because he had different kinds of rubber on his paddles. Is he allowed to do this?

Players were allowed to change their racket during the match but not anymore. During the match, a player can only change his racket if it is broken or becomes unplayable.

At a tournament, my opponent served when I was not ready. But the umpire awarded him the point. Was that the right decision?

Did you attempt to return the serve? If you are not ready to receive a serve, do not swing at the ball! If you are not ready and there is no attempt to return the serve, there should be a let, no points scored, and it should be replayed. If you attempt to return the serve, then the umpire will award the server the point. If your opponent tends to serve too quickly, I recommend not getting into ready position until you are actually ready. Some players also hold up their free hand until they are ready, making it clear that they are not yet prepared to receive the serve.

My neighbor serves so short that, if I don't touch it, it will actually bounce two or three times on my side of the table. I say the serve is illegal because it must come off the end of the table before it would bounce again. My neighbor says "nay". Who is right?

Your neighbor is right. A short serve is legal as well as effective.

How many net serves ("lets") can there be on a serve?

In table tennis, the number of lets is unlimited. The server just keeps serving the ball until there is no let.

My opponent hit the ball off the end of the table and I blocked it with my paddle. He says that he wins the point because of the "block rule". Is he out to lunch?

If this point took place in 1992, your opponent would have won the point. However, as of September of 1993, the "block rule" or "volley rule" is no longer in effect. You win the point.

During a rally, the ball hit my racquet hand rather than the racquet, but otherwise it was a good return. My opponent missed my shot. Who wins the point?

You win the point. If the ball hits any part of the racquet or hits the hand below the wrist, it counts.

Why is rubber on each side of the paddle a different color?

Since 1988, it has been an ITTF and USATT rule that rubber must be red on one side and black on the other. This came about because of the rise in the use of "junk rubber" (the name some frustrated players call long pips and anti-topspin rubber). Players who use vastly different sheets of rubber on each side of their paddle had perfected the art of disguising which rubber sheet they used to strike the ball, and consequently what spin was on the ball. The rule change has made it easier for spectators and opposing players to understand the spin that is happening during table tennis play.

I started playing in tournaments again after a break of several years. It used to be that players had to wear black or dark colored shirts with very small logos, if any. Now I see all kinds of shirts, including ones with white or yellow, or with designs on the front. What shirts are legal for tournament play?

A shirt can now be any color as long as it is clearly different from that of the ball in use. Designs or lettering on the front of the shirt must be contained within a total area of 64 sq. cm. (or if it's an advertisement it must be contained within 24 sq. cm.)

Is it legal to towel off after every point?

No. Short reasonable pauses for purposes such as toweling may be taken only after every 6 points, or at the change of ends in the last possible game of a match.

I played a certain junior player who's father coached her constantly during the match. I felt like it was two against one! Is that legal?

No. A player may receive coaching or advice only between games. It is not legal during momentary breaks such as when toweling off. It is also not legal during the change of ends during the last game of a match.

The ball my opponent hit struck the side of the table on the proper end of the table. Who wins the point?

If the ball hit the top edge of the table, your opponent wins the point. If the ball hit the side of the table, you win the point. You can tell if the ball hit the top edge or the side by the trajectory of the ball.

I inadvertently put my free hand on the table when I was smashing a lob. The umpire awarded my opponent a point, even though my kill shot was on the table and unreturnable! Was that the right call?

It was the right call. If you put your free hand on the table, you lose the point.

My friend was serving and she missed the ball completely. She says that she gets to take the point over and I say "not". Who's right?

You are right. When the server misses the ball completely, she loses the point.

In the middle of a point, the ball hit the bracket of the net set before bouncing up at an odd angle then landing on the proper side. Does it count?

Yes. If the ball hits the net or net bracket, it is still in play.

When smashing the ball, my opponent hit the table with his body. Should he lose the point?

If your opponent moved the playing surface, then he loses the point. If the surface was not moved, then he does not lose the point.

I accidentally brushed the net with my elbow during a rally. Do I lose the point?

Yes. If any part of your body, or anything you wear or carry touches the net assembly, you lose the point.

A guy at the club has a nasty serve. He throws the ball up into his paddle and he hits it before it comes down again. Is that legal?

Not under the current rules. (It was legal when I started playing.) To be legal, a serve must rest on the open flat palm of the hand. The ball and paddle must be above the level of the playing surface and behind the table or an imaginary extention of the end line. The server must project the ball upwards, without imparting spin on the ball, and the ball must rise at least 6 inches after leaving the palm of the hand. The ball must begin its descent before the server strikes it.

A player at my club has illegal rubber on the back side of his penhold paddle. (The sponge thickness is way too thick.) The other side has legal rubber on it. Can the player use this paddle in a match?

Yes, the player may use this paddle in a match. However, any time he hits the ball with the illegal side, he loses the point.

Also, keep in mind that even if one side of a paddle is not being used, it still must comply with the red and black color rule. For example, the plain wood side of a penhold paddle must still be the opposite color (red or black) from the other side of the paddle. The Paddle Palace has paint sheets that can be used for this purpose.

Copyright Paddle Palace



With the assembly of the racket, how can I cut the rubber?

Cut the rubbers precisely, exact to the contour of the blade and put a protective tape around the blade because if you reglue your racket a lot, you will notice that the rubber will be stretched.

The rubber doesn't adhere to the blade, what is the problem?

The problem you have is possibly due to the glue you use. Try to glue the rubber twice. Let the first layer of glue dry on your blade, and put the same amount of glue on both the rubber and blade for the second layer of glue.

When playing singles in table tennis, is the server able to serve to any part of the opponents side, left or right, or is he confined to serving just diagonally?

In singles, the player can serve wherever he wants (not only diagonally) from whichever side he prefers.

What is the serve rotation in doubles?

Lets say you are playing doubles and you have players A, B, C, and D. The game starts with player A serving five serves and player C receiving (fig. 1) Then player C serves five serves and B receives (fig. 2) Then player B serves five serves and D receives (fig. 3) Then player D serves five serves and A receives (fig. 4) Then player A serves five serves and C receives (fig. 1) And the circle is repeated. The serve is executed always diagonally and only from the right side.





Is the rally a let or a point when after receiving a good serve or return from my opponent I am unable to strike the ball after it has bounced on my side because it bounced back to his side of the net on its own before I could reach it?

You lose the point.

When serving the ball in a singles match, does the ball have to travel cross court?

The ball has to bounce first on your side and then to your opponent side.

Several people I have played say you can't lose the game on a serve fault. They will try time after time to hit a serve that will be extremely hard to return and if it is into the net or long they say it doesn't matter because you can't lose by making a bad serve. What is the true rule?

The rule is that when you do a serve fault, you lose the point.

What type of racquet would you recommend for a club player?

There are a lot of rackets for beginners as well as for medium experienced players. Try to define your playing style and choose the appropriate combination of rubbers and blade.

Who gets the point if while serving the ball hits the edge of the table of the receiving team?

The server gets the point.

When playing doubles, do we need to tell the serving team which specific person will be receiving the serve?

You arrange the server or the receiver at the beginning of the match telling it to the referee.

If the ball goes around the post of the net during the serve who gets the point?

It doesn't matter if the ball passes around the net.

Is it legal to volley the ball?

No, it's not legal. You lose the point.

The white line that borders the table - is it in play or out?

The white lines are in play.

If the ball lands on the point of table where the top meets the edge so that the bounce of the ball is deflected is it a point for the person or team that hit it?

The player who hit the ball gets the point.

Does the ball have to be tossed in the air before being struck during a serve?

Yes, the ball has to be tossed about 15 cm high.

Does the flight of the ball during play have to travel over the net or can it come from the side of the table outside the net supports as long as it lands on the playing surface?

The ball can pass over the net or outside the net. Both are legal.

If the opponent hits the ball over the table and the ball hits my racquet, is it their point?

If your racquet accidently touches the ball that passed over the table, you win the point.

If I hit a good shot and my opponent can't use his racquet so he uses his hand to hit it back on the table, is it legal?

No, it's not legal. You lose the point.

Do I have to let the ball bounce one time on the other side of the net before I can hit it?

Yes, the ball must bounce once before you can hit it.

How does the match begin?

A coin toss determines who serves first. The winner of the coin toss chooses the serve or the side.

Which are the ways a player can lose a point?

When the server fails to make a good serve.
When the receiver fails to make a good return.
When you hit the ball, it doesn't land on the table or it goes to the net.
When you touch the table with the free hand during the rally.
When you touch the net with any body part during the rally.
When you moves the playing surface during the rally.
When you hit the ball twice successively.
When the ball bounces twice successively in your side.
If, in doubles, the player who hit the ball is out of sequence.
When you hit the ball before it has bounced on your side.

Copyright Denis' Table Tennis World

PART 3 - Questions Received by E-Mail

What is the dimensions of the table  ?

The upper surface of the table, known as the playing surface, shall be rectangular, 2.74m long and 1.525m wide, and shall lie in a horizontal plane 76cm above the floor. The playing surface may be of any material and shall yield a uniform bounce of about 23cm when a standard ball is dropped on to it from a height of 30cm. The playing surface shall be uniformly dark coloured and matt, but with a white side line, 2cm wide, along each 2.74m edge and a white end line, 2cm wide, along each 1.525m edge. 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. For doubles, each court shall be divided into 2 equal half-courts by a white centre line, 3mm wide, running parallel with the side lines; the centre line shall be regarded as part of each right half-court.

What is the height of the net assembly ?

The top of the net, along its whole length, is 15.25cm above the playing surface. The net is suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 15.25cm high, the outside limits of the post being 15.25cm outside the side line. The bottom of the net, along its whole length, should be as close as possible to the playing surface and the ends of the net should be as close as possible to the supporting posts.

I hit the ball and won the point, but my racket hit the table. My opponent says it is his point, and I say it is mine. Who is right ?

As long as you don't move the table it is your point.

Can each player use his/her own racket in tournaments ? Or do they have to use the identical rackets as chosen by the tournament committee? Tennis players use their own rackets. What is the rule in table tennis ?

In official tournaments players can only use their own racket. There are hundreds of different rubber types in table tennis. Defensive and offensive rubbers have very different characteristics, so imposing a single type of racket is impossible.

Where can I find the Real Player ?

The Real Player is changed to RealOne Player. You can download it from the link below :


During a match a short ball hits the table and goes back to the other side. Is it legal for the player to move his/her racket over the net to the other side and hit the ball before it touches the surface?

It is legal to move the racket over the net and hit the ball before it touches the other side as long as the racket or any part of the body doesn't touch the net assembly.

What should be the dimensions of the playing area ?

ITTF's Regulations for international competitions handbook states that the MINIMUM dimensions of the playing area should be :



7 meters



14 meters



5 meters



Last Update : 06 November, 2002

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