The Right Way to Serve a Ball in Table Tennis

Table tennis serve

Right table tennis serve

Serving a ball in table tennis may look challenging, but the reality is much less complex. Just take a look at the photo on the right to see how to get a grasp on your serve setup.

The Rules of a Table Tennis Service

1. Table tennis service starts with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the player’s stationary free hand.

2. The table tennis server shall then project the ball near vertically upwards, without imparting spin, so that it rises at least 16cm after leaving the palm of the free hand and then falls without touching anything before being struck.

3. As the ball is falling, the server shall strike it so that it touches first his court and then, after passing over or around the net assembly, directly touches the receiver’s court. In doubles, the ball shall touch successively the right half court of server and receiver.

4. From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall be above the level of the playing surface and behind the server’s end line, and it shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his doubles partner, especially by anything they wear or carry.

5. As soon as the ball has been projected, the table tennis server’s free arm and hand shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net. The space between the ball and the net is defined by the ball, the net and its indefinite upward extension.

6. It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can see that he complies with the requirements necessary for a correct service.

  •  If the umpire is doubtful of the legality of a service he may, on the first occasion in a match, declare a let and warn the server.
  • Any subsequent service of doubtful legality of that player or his doubles partner will result in a point to the receiver.
  • Whenever there is a clear failure to comply with the requirements for a correct service, no warning shall be given and the receiver shall score a point.

7. Exceptionally, the umpire may relax the requirements for a correct service where he is satisfied that compliance is prevented by physical disability.

We hope this article has allowed you to understand more about table tennis service. Subscribe to our Newport Beach table tennis blog to learn more about this wonderful sport!