USATT Rules

Here is a high level description of the official USATT Rules that we will follow. Please also look at the official rules at http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Table-Tennis/Rules.aspx. We will be following the official rules.

Singles

In singles, the center lines serve no purpose, so ignore them.

Scoring Basics

Our match format will be “best 3 games”. For each game, the first player to reach 11 points wins that game, however a game must be won by at least a two point margin.

Points are scored after each ball is put into play no matter which player serves the ball.

The edges of the table are part of the legal table surface, so if the ball bounces off the edge, it is considered to be in bounds. If it hits the side, it is not in bounds.

The Match

To decide who starts as the server in a match, the opponents can either flip a coin, or one player can hide the ball in one hand under the table and let the other one guess which hand it is in.

Each player serves for two points, after which the other player (or in the case of doubles, the other team) serves.
Please note that these are now the official international rules and not as it used to be where each player served for five points with games up to 21 points.

If there is a deuce, where the score is 10-10 and one player now needs to win by 2 points, then each server serves for only one point before the server is switched.

The players switch sides of the table after each game, and the person who served at the beginning of the previous game becomes the receiver at the beginning of the next game.

Legal Serve

For a serve to be legal:

  • the ball must rest on an open hand and be tossed up at least 6 inches in the air and then struck, and;
  • the ball must bounce first on the server’s side and then the opponent’s side.

If a serve touches the net, but it is otherwise legal, it is called a “let” and must be redone.

Equipment

The paddle should have a red and a black side. The ball should be either orange or white and 40 mm in size. The table should be 2.74 meters long, 1.525 m wide, and 0.76 m high. We will provide legal balls and tables. If you are not able to bring your own paddle, please email us and we will reserve one of our spare paddles for you. A limited amount of spare paddles are available. In the case that you need one, please contact us as soon as possible.

Doubles – what changes?

In doubles, the center lines serve a purpose only for the serve. For a doubles serve to be legal, it must bounce once on the right half of the server’s side of the table and again on the right half of the receiver’s side of the table.

For rally in the doubles game to be legal, players on each team must alternate hitting the ball. This is not like tennis where either player can hit the ball.

As in Singles play, the serve alternates every two points between teams. In doubles, however, each time the serve switches between teams, it also alternates between players on the same team. This works as described below — assume using the illustration above that we have two teams, a Letter team with players A and B and a Numbers team with players 1 and 2:

  • Assuming that the Letters team starts serving, player A will serve to player 1 for two points.
  • Player 1 will then serve to player B for two points.
  • Player B will then serve to player 2 for two points.
  • Player 2 will then serve to player A for two points.
  • This pattern will repeat itself for the entire game.
  • At the beginning of the next game, player 1 will serve to Player A.