Table Tennis Question about Serving Rules

This question about table tennis serving rules was submitted by
John from Sudbury, UK

Table tennis questions

My table tennis question relates to what the rules say regarding the service.

When you are serving, do you have to send the ball in between your opponent's corners of the table?


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

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Thanks for your question John.

No, you do not have to send the ball in between your opponent's corners of the table.

If you're playing singles, the ball can hit any part of your opponent's half of the table after passing over the net.

As long as the ball hits the playing surface, the service will be legal.

The white lines are part of the playing surface.

However, if the ball touches the net during service, before touching the playing surface, the service must be replayed.

But if you're playing doubles, the service must only touch the right half court.

The only instance where the ball must go between your opponents corners of the table is if the receiver is a wheelchair user, then the service must exit between the two corners on his side.

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But beware...

At the highest levels of the sport, players usually only send their service off the side of the table when they're trying to surprise their opponent or for an occasional variation to their usual service.

The reason they don't use it on a regular basis is because it often gives their opponent the opportunity to play the first attacking stroke.

The top players are very quick and have excellent anticipation, so they're often able to play a stroke with a full swing, rather than being limited to playing over the table.

The server will therefore usually lose the point if their opponent is able to play a full forehand stroke, but they'll have a better chance of success if they serve wide to their opponent's backhand side.

Here are a few examples of the world's best players sending their serves off the side of the table - with varying success...


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More Information

You'll find lots more details on my web site on the following pages...

 

Details about the playing surface...

www.allabouttabletennis.com/table-tennis-rules.html

 

Details about the serve...

www.allabouttabletennis.com/official-table-tennis-rules.html

www.allabouttabletennis.com/rules-in-table-tennis.html

 

Details about the serve in doubles...

www.allabouttabletennis.com/table-tennis-doubles-rules.html

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MORE PAGES ABOUT
THE RULES OF TABLE TENNIS
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  • What do the rules say about playing doubles?
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  • Expedite system
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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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