10 Ping Pong Serve Rules for Singles and Doubles

ITTF has some strict guidelines about serving so that your service doesn’t counted as illegal.  In this article, we have listed some basic ping pong serve rules.

There are some complex service rules in the game of Ping Pong, but when you start to understand them, there are just a few things which you should keep in mind.

Unlike Table tennis, Ping pong mixes both offensive and defensive playing styles. One can play Ping pong on a medium spin in medium to slow speed.

Let us have a glance at the serving rules of playing Ping Pong.

The Objective of the Game

The objective of the game is to obtain a score, usually, 15 in case of Ping pong and 11 for table tennis. That means the first person to reach a score of 11 or 15 wins out of the previously agreed number of games. Scores are obtained by making the opponent miss the ball completely or off the table or hit on to the net.

Basic Serving Rules to Start the Game

Usually, the number of games is fixed as an odd number 3, 5, or 7. The cumulative score, when it reaches 11 for a player at a 2-point margin, determines the winner. Thus, the game starts with a service, the rules of which are as follow-

  • A toss decides the first service.
  • The player, who first serves, must toss the ball in the air and hit it on its descent.
  • The serve should be in such a way that it hits the server’s court first, pass the net and hit the receiver’s court.
  • The receiver shall take the service only after it hits his/her court.
  • The opponent and umpire must get a clear sight of the game always, failing of which may lead to a warning or the opponent getting an extra point.
  • Finally, the receiver must return the ball if the server has placed a valid serve.

Serve Gesture Rules of The Game

The service is the starting point of every rally.

Throw < 16 cm Vertically Upward.

The throw must be less than 16 cm  or 6 inches vertically upward from the palm. Anything beyond that will be termed as illegal service.


Palm must be properly open

This comes under the server rule 2.06.01 wherein it is mentioned that the player must not hide the ball with his/her fingers. It should be visible to the opponent, and the ball should rest freely on the open palm.

serving 2

Keep and throw the ball above the table

This is also a case of hiding ball from the opponent. This 2.06.04 Ping pong serve rule says the ball must always be above the table surface so that it is visible to the opponent

The player must throw the ball vertically

The player cannot throw the ball sideways even if it is more than 16 cm. The throws must at least be 16 cm or 6 inches from the palm, and the projection should be vertically upward.

ping pong serve

Serve should be behind the end line

It is assumed as an illegal serve if the player serves from the side of the table. The player must serve the ball always from behind the white end lines of the table.

Never Hide the Serve

Though hidden servers are familiar in table tennis, it is countered by the legal table tennis rules. Servers usually hide serves with the head, arm, and shoulder. However, you should avoid this at the match.

* If the ball hits the net while on serve, it is eligible for a re-serve, if and only if the initial service was valid.

The Serve Rules for Doubles

  • If players M and N, P and Q are the teams in a doubles game, the serve must always be from the right-hand side of a player on a particular side to the right-hand side of the opponent on the other side.
  • Failing of the above rule results in a point for the opponent.
  • A team shall also gain a point when the order of pass gets violated by the opponent team.
  • Normally, the server shall strike the ball so that it touches first his or her court and then, after passing over the net, touches the receiver’s court directly. However, in doubles, the ball shall touch the right half court of server and receiver successively.


The player gets a point if :

  • The ball passes the end line without touching the court after being hit by the opponent. The opponent obstructs or blocks the ball.
  • The player scores a point if the opponent fails to make a valid serve or return.
  • The opponent hits the ball with an un-authorized part of the paddle, example: With those parts which are not covered with rubber.
  • The player can do only one strike. That means double strikes will lead to a point added to the opposite side.
  • The opponent’s free hand touches the court.
  • The opponent touches either the net or moves the court.
  • A player gets a second warning from the umpire in the same match itself; it will add up a point for the opponent.

Ping pong is an indoor game, involving a maximum of 4 people. Most people refer to Ping pong as a “non-serious” version of Table tennis, but Ping pong is for a different set of audiences as it is slower. The type of racket used is the reason for the reduction in speed. Since it is slower, some prefer this game suitable for beginners.

Maxim Shmyrev had been the Ping pong world champion 3 times in a row from 2011 to 2014. The World Championship for 2019 was held on January 26. England, Russia, and China have proved as the most powerful countries in the Ping Pong.

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