Table Tennis Question about
the serve hitting edge or line

This question was submitted by Val from Colchester, UK

Table tennis questions

My question is about the service hitting the lines or edges of the table.

When serving, doubles or singles, if the ball lands on the receiver's side...

  • on the white lines, or
  • on the edge of table

so that it's unreturnable; is this a legitimate service?

This has cropped up in our club games.

I do realise that this is difficult to practise for, but it means that, if allowed, speed of service is not necessary, but accuracy can prevent any sort of rallies!

Val

Table Tennis

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----- Martin's Reply -----

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Val,

Thanks for your question.

In both cases, it's a legitimate service.

 

Let's take a look an example of the ball hitting the...

Edge of the Table

Here's a video clip showing two of the best players in the World, playing in the 2019 World Championships.

Vladimir Samsonov (red shirt) is serving to World Champion, Ma Long (black shirt). Samsonov's serve hits the edge of the table, making a return virtually impossible.

You can see that Samsonov is slightly embarrassed by his good fortune, but both players know that it's a legitimate service, albeit fairly unusual.


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White Lines

The rules state that the playing surface comprises the entire top surface of the table, including...

  • the 3mm wide centre line
  • the 2cm wide side lines
  • the 2cm wide end lines, and
  • the top edges

...but not the vertical sides.

Table tennis rules

Therefore, if the ball touches the white centre line during the service in doubles it's "in" (good).

N.B. The white centre line has no purpose in singles matches.

In addition, if the ball touches the side line or end line in singles or doubles, it's "in" (good).

 

The vertical sides are NOT part of the playing surface, so whenever the ball hits a vertical side it's "out" (not good).


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More Information

For more details about lines and edges, see my other article here... www.allabouttabletennis.com/table-tennis-rules.html

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Frequently Asked Questions

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