Rules for Officiating Table Tennis

Updated April 17, 2017

A table tennis game may be officiated by the two players playing in the game, or an official referee may be designated. The players or referee must confirm that all rules of table tennis are followed, including regulations regarding the table, racket, play, and scoring. Rules of table tennis are governed by the International Table Tennis Federation and USA Table Tennis organisations.

Legal Table Size

The official of a table tennis match must check to ensure that the table is the legal size, according to The table should be 9 feet long, with the net in the middle of the table, resulting in each player's half being 4 1/2 feet long. The width of the table should be 5 feet, and the table should be 2 1/2 feet off the floor.

The Net

The net should be located at the centre of the table and should be 6 inches high above the surface of the table, according to The net should extend past the side of the table by six inches on both sides. The bottom of the net should be placed as close as possible to the table surface while ensuring the height remains at 6 inches.

The Racket

The racket's size is not regulated, according to The racket may be covered by smooth or pimpled rubber. This is regulated, with the thickness of the rubber, whether it is pimpled or smooth, being limited to 2 millimetres.

Legal Serve

When serving a table tennis ball, the rules state that the ball must be tossed at least six inches into the air. Spin is not permitted to be used when tossing the ball into the air. For a serve to be legal it must be struck with the racket before it hits the table and hit the server's side of the table before hitting his opponent's side. If the ball strikes the net and passes to the receiver's side of the table, it is called a "let," which is a legal serve.

Legal Return and Subsequent Volley

For a return to be legal, it must be hit over the net without striking the returner's side of the net. It must hit the side of the server or be struck by the server for it to be a legal return. The volley continues following these rules throughout play with the term server being replaced by the player who last struck the ball.

Scoring a Point

A point is scored if one player hits the table tennis ball legally and his opponent either fails to return the ball legally or it strikes the returner's side of the table twice. A point is also scored if a player serves the ball illegally. A "redo" is not permitted.


A game is played to 11 points, according to and Each player takes turns as the server for two serves, and then the other player serves. The score itself does not determine who serves based on who is winning or losing. A match consists of any odd number of games agreed to before the match begins, with the winner being the player who wins the most games in the match.

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About the Author

Alan Kirk has been writing for online publications since 2006. He has more than 15 years' experience in catering, management and government relations. Kirk has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland.