Rules & Regulations of Table Tennis

Updated February 21, 2017

Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, originated in England in the late 1800s. It is a fast-paced game that requires skill, concentration and hand-eye coordination. It remains a popular sport and is even played in the Olympic Games. The rules of the game are fairly simple, but there are a number of regulations that must be followed. These guidelines are governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Scoring Rules

A point is scored when your opponent fails to properly return the ball to your side of the table. In a standard game of table tennis, the first player to reach 11 points is considered the winner. Rules also state, however, that a player must be leading his opponent by a margin of at least two points before a win can be declared. Matches are typically played as a series of five games, with the first player to win three games declared the winner.


According to the ITTF, the tabletop should be precisely 76 centimetres above the floor and on an even, horizontal plane. The playing surface is rectangular in shape with a measurement of 2.74 meters long and 1.525 meters wide. The surface of the table may be made of a variety of materials, as long as a standard ball can achieve a consistent bounce of 23 centimetres when dropped from 30 centimetres above the table.


The ITTF states that all table tennis nets shall be attached on both sides to upright poles that stand 15.25 centimetres high, with the posts set 15.25 centimetres beyond the side line. The top of an ITTF-sanctioned net will be exactly 15.25 centimetres above the surface of the table with the bottom of the net resting as close to the tabletop as possible.


There are no regulations pertaining to the exact size, shape or even weight of a table tennis racket; hence there are many variations. Official ITTF standards do state that the racket's blade must consist of at least 85% natural wood, however. The sides of a racket's blade should also be covered with rubber. Players must allow both their opponent and the umpire an opportunity to inspect the racket before it is used in play.


In order to adhere to the official ITTF guidelines, a table tennis ball must measure exactly 40 millimetres in diameter and weight exactly 2.7 grams. Table tennis balls must be constructed out of celluloid or another similar plastic and must be white or orange in colour.

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