EXPLAINING THE RULES
There are a number of misunderstandings about
the rules of table tennis, and it is likely that
your students will all have vague but incorrect ideas
as to the actual rules. Explain the rules to them as
simply as you can, demonstrating as often as
possible rather than just telling.
Shown below are important points that should be
explained. It is important that kids get the rules
right. It gives them a framework from which to
work. Without making the rules clear, they will
argue and bicker every time a disagreement about
rules comes up. Get the rules ingrained from the
The game is 11 points.
A game must be won by two points.
Serves are alternated every two points, except
at deuce (when they are alternated every point).
The game does not end at 7-0 or any other score
except 11 or deuce.
The ball must be held in an uncupped hand,
with the thumb free.
The ball must be tossed up at least six inches.
The net is six inches high and can be used for
The ball must be struck while it is dropping.
Contact must be above the table level and behind
the endline or its imaginary extension.
Let serves (serves that nick the net but hit the
other side of the table) are taken over. You can
serve any number of let serves without losing
From the moment the ball is tossed up and until it is struct,
the receiving player must be able to see the the ball clearly at all times.
You may not volley the ball (hit it before it
bounces on your side of the table).
The rally continues until someone fails to
return the ball.
You may not move the table or touch it with
your non-playing hand.
To start a game, one player hides the ball in
one hand under the table and the other tries to
guess what hand it is in. Winner gets the choice
of serving or receiving first (or choice of
You can find the complete rules of
table tennis at the USA Table Tennis
home page at www.usatt.org (click on
“Rules of the Game”).
Copyright Larry Hodges
Mark Nordby, Dan Seemiller, John Oros
Copyright USA Table Tennis