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Service Rules | PingSkills | Table Tennis

We all want to have a fantastic serve but
it’s no use going to a tournament and getting faulted all the time so you need to know the
rules. The first rule I want you to know about is
that you must have a flat hand when serving and the ball must be in the palm of your hand. Now when people first start out in table tennis
they often hold the ball in their fingers but you can’t do that, it’s illegal. So make
sure you get a flat hand and you put the ball in the palm of your hand. Now the reason this
rule came about is that so you can’t spin the ball up as you’re tossing it up because
that would make it much harder for the receiver and so to simplify things you have to throw
it up without imparting any spin on the ball. Now when you throw it up you have to be behind
the end line of the table and you also have to contact the ball behind the end line of
the table. So you can’t throw it up and then hit the ball in front of this line and you
can’t throw it up from in front even if you hit it behind. So make sure you’re always
behind the end line of the table. Now the other thing is you can’t throw it up from
below the table because the opponent has to see the ball throughout the serve so you must
throw it up from above the level of the table. Now you may be wondering can you serve from
out wider than this sideline of the table? And the answer is yes as long as you are behind
the extension of this imaginary line coming out from the end of the table. Now the next important rule I want you to
learn is about the service toss. When you are serving you must throw the ball up at
least 6 inches or 16cm. That’s about the height of the net or about the width of your bat.
Now a lot of people when they’re first starting out they just serve the ball straight out
of their hand but that’s illegal, you can’t do that. So make sure when you serve you throw
the ball up so that it clears your hand by at least 16cm. When you throw the ball up you must throw
it near vertical. You can’t throw it backwards to the side or you can’t throw it back in
towards yourself. Now most players will throw the ball up and it will move a little bit
but the rule is really there to stop you just throwing the ball straight into you bat. But
just to be safe try and practice throwing it up as close to vertical as you can. Now the next rule is quite contentious.The
principle behind it is that your opponent must be able to see the ball the whole time
throughout the serve. So you can’t throw the ball up and get your arm in the way as you’re
hitting the ball. So you throw the ball up, get your arm out of the way and serve so your
opponent can see the ball the whole time. Now another way to think about it is if you
take the net posts and the triangle that’s formed between them and the ball that must
be clear throughout the entire serve. A really common question I get is where can
you serve from and where can you serve to? Now in singles you can serve from anywhere
to anywhere. This line down the middle is only used for doubles. In doubles you have to serve from the right hand box to the right hand box.

David Frank



  1. Anthony Goubard Posted on October 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Can I serve from behing the baseline but outside of the sidelines?

  2. Ömer EREL Posted on October 25, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    If you threw the ball but couldnt hit it, is it a point to opponent or redo?

  3. rose Posted on October 28, 2017 at 3:52 am

    When you through the ball up on serve, does the ball have to go up 6 inches or can it be thrown up more, like 10 12 or more

  4. Tristan Bautista Posted on October 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Placing the ball on your fingers is illegal…So you'll get jailed if you do


  5. pedram mehmani Posted on November 2, 2017 at 9:57 am

    very useful. thanks

  6. bartofilms Posted on November 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    How about someone who purposefully or intentionally distracts you by dropping or throwing the ball against blade (hard bat with pips) 3 to 5 times before each service to distract you or break your concentration? Must not the ball remain at rest for a second before it is served?

  7. Quadrolinn Bañez Posted on November 16, 2017 at 11:25 am

    theres no doble now

  8. Brandon Cornelius Posted on November 26, 2017 at 4:16 am

    Is it legal if the ball were to bounce on the opponents side once and then off either side of the table?

  9. jooke huang Posted on November 26, 2017 at 4:30 am

    hello,can I share this video to Baidu Pingpong forum? I'd like to share it and translate to Chinese for those who are also confuse with service rules. I will put your channel link with the video, please reply if you permit.:-)

  10. nirvana pinkfloyd Posted on November 29, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Thanks, but. What hapend when the ball tuches the net during service?

  11. mhel alcaraz Posted on December 16, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Can a lefty serve from the left side?

  12. Nikki naik Posted on December 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Is it legal if i serve from right side of my court to left side of opponent's court in single man match

  13. amrit brar Posted on January 13, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Can we serve the ball below level of table that is blind serve ?

  14. Nice Ride Posted on January 25, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Ok, I want to know who are these 122 super dumbasses who gave this highly informative and helpful video a thumbs down?

  15. PingSkills Posted on February 3, 2018 at 1:12 am

    I hope this cleared up some rules for you. If you are interested we have a whole series of videos on the rules which you can find on our website: https://www.pingskills.com/tutorials/table-tennis-rules

    Jeff & Alois

  16. Tushar Mate Posted on February 13, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    What if you serve the ball and it lands on the edge of your opponent's court in singles??? ….its hard to play such serve

  17. TSD2003 Posted on February 16, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Cheers guys thanks for the vid but is legal for the ball to hit the opposition's side on the edge? Like an easy serve to win the point but not easy to perform ?

  18. Scott Free Posted on February 20, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Can your racket pass the line? why do people do those funny looking serves?

  19. pranesh kr Posted on February 25, 2018 at 5:33 am

    Table tents plare

  20. GIANNIS LYMPEROPOYLOS Posted on March 3, 2018 at 3:27 pm


  21. Thirupathi Thangavel Posted on March 3, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    Should the contact point be above the table level when serving?

  22. Da Real Ali G On PC Posted on March 7, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    I'm not sure where on Earth I read it. But I had read that it was illegal to serve and have the ball travel backwards or of the sides of the table. Based on what I'm seeing that is incorrect. I'm wondering 1 why that would have been listed somewhere (is there a situation where that is a rule like in a handicap match) and 2 why don't I see more serves going off the side of the table or backwards? Is it just that easy to defend? Cause in my limited experience both are hard to defend even when you anticipate them coming.

  23. Rog5446 Posted on March 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Four service rules missing.
    1. As someone has already pointed out, the ball should be descending, you can't strike the ball on the way up.
    2. The hand that the ball is resting on must be stationary before the ball is tossed up.
    3. The ball must bounce on your court before going over the net and then touch your opponents court.
    4. If the ball touches the net or its supports on the way over it's a let (no ball) serve, and must be served again.
    NOTE No.3 The word touch was substituted for bounce for the opponents court, as if the ball clips the edge of the table (not side) the ball does not effectively bounce. If the ball does touch (clip) the edge of the table, the service is deemed good.

  24. Oleg Reshetov Posted on March 17, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Many TT pro masters don't throw the ball straight up and hide the ball when serving, what about that?

  25. sanskar mani Posted on March 19, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Is it legal if the ball bounces more than once on your opponents side of the table??plzz reply asap

  26. SFor Samuel Posted on March 29, 2018 at 9:34 am

    place the ball on the palm of the hand
    always behind the endlines
    no spin
    no throw up under the table.
    throw up the ball at least 6 cm
    throw up the ball vertically
    doubles, you need to serve from right hand box to the right hand box.

  27. Ekta Sheth Posted on April 5, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    I was able to play my tournament..thnx alot

  28. rajeevrp Posted on April 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    OMG I didn’t know most of them 😟

  29. Abdaal Jadoon Posted on May 3, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Hey there, i want to know that suppose while doing serve the ball strikes on our side and then it strikes twice on other side then is it considered legal or not ?

  30. THE ROYAL ENTERTAINER Posted on May 18, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I also play table tennis

  31. Vishal Farma Posted on May 19, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    The audio at 3:10 scared me

  32. Ramchandra Kulkarni Posted on June 13, 2018 at 10:56 am


  33. Andrew Wang Posted on June 18, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Hi PingSkills! I have a question about the serving rules. If you hit the ball and it doesn't go over the net does the opponent get the point or do you serve it again?

  34. T Posted on June 26, 2018 at 4:59 am

    3:30 I want to learn to serve like that

  35. amaroq69 Posted on June 30, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Lets aren’t scored points, are service faults scored to the receiver?

  36. حس بالهموم Posted on June 30, 2018 at 10:43 am

    we need translet arabic

  37. abdurrahman zulkepeli Posted on July 22, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    does the ball need to be above eye level? n how many netserve is allowed?

  38. Dead Poets Posted on July 31, 2018 at 12:09 am

    Now that I know the service rules I can beat Xu Xin

  39. Scott Munix Posted on July 31, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    But thats illegal

  40. Emanuele Corsi Posted on August 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    this is an old post so I wonder if anyone will answer, but I'm trying anyway 🙂 is it true that as soon as the ball leaves my hand the serve is begun and I cannot take it back to repeat the toss? and that anything happens after the toss the service won't be repeated? (i.e. no contact with the bat, no contact with the table, ball going backwards and so on). Thank you!

  41. Sk Samrat Posted on August 13, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    u don't know anything

  42. J Y Posted on August 24, 2018 at 3:51 am

    How come just about any pro hides the ball with their bodies after the toss.

  43. Brian Beamer Posted on August 29, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Is it okay to server from the side, where the server and ball are behind the line, but also so far to the side that the ball enters from the side of the table?

  44. Rannie Sto Domingo Posted on September 11, 2018 at 4:22 am

    how to left handed arm.pls heheh i'm so confusing sometimes on handeling a racket.

  45. Jesse A. Quam Posted on September 15, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    What's a double?

  46. anandk197 Posted on September 19, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    I see most of the right handed Chinese players serve with their left leg planted under the table beyond the the serve line. Is that correct? I have always tried to mimic them.

  47. iam clearlydn Posted on October 3, 2018 at 11:35 am

    This wasn't helpful

  48. Niki Nikolov Posted on October 7, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Hello, Alois, is there a rule defining how far away from the table should the player stay? Could I serve from further back, like 1-2 meters away from the table?

  49. Chandan Parida Posted on October 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    If I serve and the ball pitches twice in the opponents side with a back spin is it illegal??

  50. Kaloyan 99 Posted on October 18, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    says that the ball cant be hidden
    me:OH SHIT then that means Waldner was cheating the whole time with his serve

  51. Joseph Troullas Posted on October 24, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Anyone Else In Gym Class?

  52. Jerry Low Posted on October 27, 2018 at 3:20 am

    I can't serve over the net with good spin, how do you even serve over the net with good spin ?

  53. aleryani ahmed Posted on November 22, 2018 at 4:32 am

    Did he say its illegal to hold the ball on your fingers

  54. Levy Archer Posted on November 27, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    I play with this one friend during P.E. , and he always gets me with his serves. He pretty much grabs the ball, puts his hand like 5 cm behind the table line, and like 5cm above the table itself (literally almost ON the table), then he just lets go of it and hits it. The result of that is pretty much him putting a ball that lands in the corner of my side of the table in the angle of 10 degrees. I've always told him that he's doing it wrong, but he'd be like "eeeeh what do you know, i've seen people on tournaments serve like that".Thank for this, now I can wreck him the next time.

  55. Noah Hulin Posted on December 30, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Can you serve the ball at an angle so that it goes off the side of the table after hitting the returners side? And one more question. What happens if you do an otherwise legal serve with a lot of backspin so that it bounces on the return side then bounces back over to the serving side without the return guy touching it?

  56. Jake17747 Posted on January 1, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Service Rules:
    1. Make sure the service is high quality
    2. Don't take forever
    3. Make sure nothing is hazardous or dangerous
    4. Clearly communicate
    5. Always have a smile on your face
    6. And please, be polite and respectful

    Edit: Ohh, that kind of service…

  57. Trivikram Rajan Posted on January 8, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Can someone please clear my doubt. I was told that the ball shall not touch the opponent's court twice while I serve.
    But what about a short serve?
    Can the ball pitch twice on the opponent's court while serving??

  58. Wyatt Swasey Posted on January 12, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Question: is the serve illegal if it goes off the side of the table and not the end?

  59. BlaZe Electro Posted on January 16, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Is the ball allowed to go over the side of the table after hopping in opponents side

  60. Arif Zamri Posted on January 25, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    3:15, the actual start of the video….

  61. Saurabh Roy Posted on February 8, 2019 at 4:59 am

    Sir, My daughter is left handed…will it affect her future in the game…

  62. Eric Zeigler Posted on March 1, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    Almost every top player throws the ball up and towards their body, hiding the serve contact from the opponent. The rules are clear and the umpire should call every bad service, but most don't want to be the one that enforces the rules. Once you're known as a serve "Nazi", no one wants you to umpire the match.

  63. P sinha Posted on March 3, 2019 at 6:02 am

    What if while serving I touch the ball behind the line but my TT racket crosses the end line of table after touching…is it still legal??

  64. Eloi Mumford Posted on March 18, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Jeff is incredible …what a teacher , soft and strong …easy to follow.

  65. Gumptious Posted on March 26, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    thanks dude. Helped my son and I after purchasing our first full table , never would have though there was so many rules .

  66. II Skip II Posted on April 5, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    if you hit the net on a serve does the opponent get the point or is it a redo

  67. Bisma Mahrukh Posted on April 6, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Goood vedio

  68. Pizza Posted on April 15, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Wait! That's illegal!

  69. VK SRI Posted on April 24, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    In my office…you have to serve diagonally in singles also 😛

  70. Sunil Bhandari Posted on April 27, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    How far behind the table are we allowed to go for service . Can we go maybe 4 feet away

  71. johnny klingborg Posted on April 30, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    I thought he was just kidding when he said it was illegal to serve with out tossing it 16cm in the air so i didn't and got 6months hard time. They said i was lucky i did that at practice since i would probably get life in prison had i done it at a tournament…

    Kids stay in school, don´t do drugs and for god´s sake only do legal serves!

  72. Slavic Commando Posted on April 30, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    There’s no ping pong club in my area :c

  73. Yo a Posted on May 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Can you serve the ball to the side of the table on the opponents side? (So u serve after one bounce on both sides of the table can the ball go out from the side) is it illigal or not?

  74. LizardLandscapes Posted on May 21, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Nice vid! Does the bat have to remain behind the line (table edge, -not the line down the middle) of the table, or can it proceed forward to cross that edge with the follow through of the serve?

  75. Lily Ng Posted on June 4, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Pingskills do I need to hold the ball with my fingers sticking to each other or not?

  76. picolo2022 Games Posted on June 6, 2019 at 5:03 am

    Doesn’t the serve have to be crossed? Sorry I’m a noob

  77. ערן לוי Posted on June 11, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Just lost the interest in pingpong….

  78. Nick Posted on June 13, 2019 at 12:58 am

    Our workplace follow none of the rules… yikes

  79. Haneef Hakimzai Posted on June 13, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Love table tennis

  80. AlluBoi Pelaa Posted on June 24, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Is this 2019 rules?

  81. Bikash Jain Posted on June 28, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Nicely explained. Good video

  82. arun kumar Posted on July 4, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Can we touch the table with bat while serving? Is it foul or correct?

  83. arun kumar Posted on July 4, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    If we service two consecutive net hit serves then is it a foul?

  84. lightsaber 4000 Posted on July 13, 2019 at 10:10 am

    If you throw the ball up and you miss the ball, is it the opponents point, or can you redo that point

  85. Henry Raphaels Posted on July 14, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Been doing this wrong for years. Can't teach old dog new tricks lol

  86. Mani Subramani Posted on July 19, 2019 at 10:16 am

    It's not vertical, it's near vertical lol

  87. a Posted on July 24, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    that would make it much hahdah foh dah recievah

  88. Cindy Tiew Posted on August 5, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    In doubles I realized my partner does the serve at 3:36 sometimes…

  89. Enewgama Posted on August 6, 2019 at 3:13 pm


  90. Aaron Bruce Posted on August 25, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Can you serve the ball off the side of the table? (So it bounces off the side of your opponent's court)

  91. Glen Hindman Posted on September 18, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    when receiving indoubles , can bot receiving team call an fault or out of l bounds..?

  92. Jerin Jovin Posted on September 19, 2019 at 9:09 am

    If ball hit on opponent side white line is it legal?

  93. Sima Ștefan Posted on September 23, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Hell to people how serve out of their hand without throwing it

  94. Weedak Widovski Posted on September 23, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Does his "are you fucking serious" face have to be there all the time

  95. sarita khanal Posted on October 9, 2019 at 6:33 am

    Champ vayera pani kaam vayana

  96. Kristel Andaya Posted on October 9, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Holds ball with fingers

    Wait that's illegal