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Basic Table Tennis Rules Explained
A Good Return

One of the basic table tennis rules is about making a good return.
But what does that mean? Find out here...

Basic Table Tennis Rules

The official rules of table tennis are a comprehensive set of rules and regulations which cover a multitude of situations which may arise during a game.

But let's just take a look at a few of the basic table tennis rules which deal with making a good return.

We'll look at what constitutes a good return and answer questions such as whether you can you use your hand to play a shot.

We'll also look at what happens if you move the table, touch the playing surface or touch the net.

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RECOMMENDED TABLE TENNIS BOOK

The Table Tennis Rules and Regulations Explained

Rules of table tennis

This new book explains SIMPLY and CLEARLY everything you need to know about the rules and regulations of table tennis.

Click here for more details

Striking the ball - what is a good return?

Rule 2.05.07 states that ...

A player strikes the ball if he or she touches it in play with his or her racket, held in the hand, or with his or her racket hand below the wrist.

You can read more about the racket (also known as a paddle or bat) here.

This means that all of the following are legal and will constitute a good return.

You can hit the ball with ...

  • the rubber on your table tennis racket, or
  • the edge of your table tennis racket, or
  • the handle of your table tennis racket, or
  • any part of your racket hand below the wrist, including the fingers of your racket hand

However ... your hand is only your racket hand if it's holding your table tennis racket. This means that you can't drop your racket and then hit the ball with your hand ... because your hand is no longer your racket hand.

Additionally, you can't make a good return by throwing your table tennis racket at the ball. You must be holding your racket when it hits the ball for it to be a good return.

Of course, you could transfer your table tennis racket from one hand to the other hand because your other hand would then become your racket hand ... but that's quite difficult to do!

However, Andrzej Grubba of Poland was particularly good at that. Here's a short video clip which shows him transferring his table tennis racket from his right hand to his left hand during a rally.

You can see that although he was right-handed, he was pretty good at playing left-handed too...


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Move the table

Rule 2.10 states...

Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point if an opponent, or anything an opponent wears or carries, moves the playing surface.

This means that if you cause the table tennis table to move whilst the ball is still in play, you lose the point.

This usually happens when you rush forward to play a shot. After you've played your shot, your forward momentum can cause you to move the table.

However, if the ball wasn't in play when you moved the table tennis table, there's no penalty. For example, once the ball has bounced a second time (either on the table, floor, surroundings, or hits your opponent), the ball's no longer in play.


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Touching the playing surface

Rule 2.10 also states that...

Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point if an opponent's free hand touches the playing surface.

This means that if you touch the playing surface (i.e. the top of the table tennis table) with your hand which is not holding your racket whilst the ball is still in play, you lose the point.

So, if you're right handed and have your racket in your right hand, and you touch the playing surface with your left hand, you lose the point.


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Touching the net

Rule 2.10 also states that...

Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point if an opponent, or anything an opponent wears or carries, touches the net assembly.

This means that if you touch the table tennis net or the net posts whilst the ball is still in play, you lose the point.

As with moving the table tennis table, this usually happens when you rush forward to play a shot and your forward momentum may cause you to touch the net.

RECOMMENDED  TABLE  TENNIS  BOOK

The Table Tennis Rules and Regulations Explained

Rules of table tennis This new book explains SIMPLY and CLEARLY everything you need to know about the rules and regulations of table tennis.

Click here for more details

RECOMMENDED TABLE TENNIS BOOK

The Table Tennis Rules and Regulations Explained

Rules of table tennis

This new book explains SIMPLY and CLEARLY everything you need to know about the rules and regulations of table tennis.

Click here for more details


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MORE PAGES ABOUT
THE RULES OF TABLE TENNIS
For more information about the rules of table tennis, take a look at my other articles which explain the Official Laws of Table Tennis and the additional Regulations (for higher level play) in more detail...

The Laws of Table Tennis

  • The basic rules of table tennis
    If you're just starting to play and you need to know the basic rules of table tennis, you'll find them here...

  • The official rules of table tennis
    The official rules of table tennis are known as The Laws of Table Tennis ... so if you need to check the official wording, you can read them here...

  • Table tennis table dimensions
    What size is a table tennis table? Do you know what the official rules say about the size dimensions of a table tennis table?

  • What do the rules say about your racket?
    Do you know what the rules say about your racket? What size can it be? Which colours are allowed? When can you change your racket? Find out here...

  • What do the rules say about the serve?
    The table tennis serve is one of the most controversial aspects of the game. Make sure you know the service rules. Read them here...

  • Frequently asked questions about the serve
    The service rules are very complex, so let's answer some of the most frequently asked questions. Read them here...

  • What is a good return?
    What do the rules say about a good return? Can you use your hand to play a shot? What happens if you touch or move the table? Find out here...

  • When is the ball in or out?
    What do the table tennis rules say about the ball hitting the white lines, net or edges of the table? Is the ball in or out? Find out here...

  • What do the rules say about playing doubles?
    Whether you're playing singles or doubles, the rules of table tennis are essentially the same. However, for doubles play there are a few subtle variations. Read them here...

  • What do the rules say about volleying the ball?
    Do the table tennis rules allow you to volley the ball? Yes and No... Let me explain

  • Expedite system
    How long can a game of table tennis last? If both players keep the ball in play, can they continue playing forever? What do the rules say about this? Find out here...

Regulations (for higher level play)

  • Table tennis room size
    What table tennis room size do you need? It's probably more than you think! Find out here...

  • Racket testing
    In 2008 the ITTF introduced new rules and regulations relating to racket (paddles/bats) testing, and VOC-free glue. You can read them here...

  • Are players allowed to take breaks during matches?
    What time limits are specified in the regulations? What happens if a player is time-wasting? Find out here...

  • Yellow Cards and Red Cards
    Yellow and red cards are a recent addition to table tennis. But what do they mean? Find out here...

General

  • Table tennis terminology
    Do you know your table tennis terminology or are you confused by your chops, pimples and twiddles? Here's a table tennis glossary for you...

Frequently Asked Questions


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Coaching
News & much more

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