Table Tennis Question about the Return of Service Position

This question about the return of service position was submitted by
Rajen Ryan from South Africa

Table tennis questions

Can your opponent, who is returning your serve, have any part of his body over the white line or edge of the table?

I am finding that some players are keeping their racket, ready to return, over the white line or edge of the table.

Table Tennis

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

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Rajen,

The receiver can stand wherever they like and can have any part of their body over the white line or edge of the table.

Here's a picture showing Kanak Jha (USA) with his racket over the table awaiting the service of Lee Sangsu (South Korea) in a match in the World Cup.

Kanak Jha (USA) with his racket over the table awaiting the service of Lee Sangsu (South Korea) Kanak Jha (USA) with his racket over the table awaiting the service of Lee Sangsu (South Korea)

However, not many players get to play at the highest levels, and this can be a risky tactic to try at lower levels of the game.

In doubles, you know which side of the table the serve is coming to, but you still have to wait for the ball to bounce of course, as you cannot volley it!

But in singles, it's a bit more difficult to know where the serve is going, so you'll have to be quick to adjust your position if the service is not short over the net.

However, there's nothing in the rules which dictates where you must stand, so you can stand wherever you want to.

You can also have any part of your body over the table, including your racket, but you're not allowed to move the table.

So, if you're serving, and the receiver is standing close to the table ready to return the ball with their racket over the white line or edge of the table, try serving a fast, long, deep serve, and they'll soon find that it's not such an advantage for them!

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More Information

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

 

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
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? No and Yes... 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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