The Answers to Your Top 5 Ping-Pong Rules Questions

Newgy Robo-Pong

As a Table Tennis Tournament Director and Umpire, I often get asked about the current official rules for Table Tennis. A lot of people returning to the sport or those taught by playing in the neighbors’ basement have plenty to learn.

  1. Are ping-pong games still played to 21? No, games are currently played to 11 points, win by two and usually best 3 of 5 games.
  2. Does each player get 5 serves? No, when the games changed to 11 points, the service also changed to alternating after only two serves. If tied at 10, each player would alternate service until one player leads/wins by two points.
  3. Can I serve from any place or do I have to serve on the diagonal? As long as the ball is contacted behind the end line, the server can serve from any position on their side to anywhere on your side. Yes, the ball can bounce once on your side then go off to the side or even go back toward the server too. Unless you are playing an opponent in a wheel chair, then there are special service rules to follow.
  4. Is my famous fastball serve legal? If it starts in the palm of your hand, is contacted behind the end, is tossed a minimum of 6” vertically and then struck when the ball is falling, it would be legal. Serves from the fingers and without a toss are not legal.
  5. How can you tell if the ball hits the edge versus the side of the table and what do we do if we can’t agree? If the ball kicks up and away it would clearly be an edge ball, often the side will make a different sound when the ball hits it that is very unlike the top or edge. With an umpired match it is the responsibility of the umpire to make the call. When it is a non-umpired match the player closest to the contact in question has the right to make the call.

Do you have another question about the rules of Ping-Pong? Email

Roger Dickson

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