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FAQ's

Most frequent questions and answers

A game in table tennis is played until one player scores 11 points.
If the game is close and the score is 10-10 (or deuce, as we call it), the winner must win by two points.
For example, a game may last until 12-10, 15-13 or even 23-21.
Games used to be played until the first player scored 21 points, but that rule was changed to 11 points by the ITTF in 2001.

A match can be a best of any odd number of games: 3, 5 or 7, but most people play 5 games.

Each player gets two serves in a row, and it alternates until one of the players scores 11 points, unless there is a deuce (10:10).
In that case, each player gets only one serve and it alternates until one of the players gets a two point lead to win the game.

If you’re the person serving, you need to stand behind the end line of the table, and the ball needs to be visible, and above the surface of the table. The receiver can stand wherever he or she deems ok.
So it is perfectly legal to serve from way outside the sidelines of the table, provided the ball remains behind the endline at the start of the serve.
In practice, this is not done very often since it can put the server out of position for the rest of the rally.

During a serve, if the ball hits the net but still bounces on the opponent’s side of the table, the point is a let (which means it needs to be replayed). If the ball hits the net and doesn’t make it to the other half of the table, the receiver is automatically awarded a point.

During a rally, if the ball hits the net but still bounces on the opponent’s side of the table, the rally continues, but if the ball hits the net and doesn’t make it to the other half of the table, the receiver is automatically awarded a point.

If the ball goes around the net, the shot is valid, whether it’s a serve or a rally.

So basically, as long as the ball does not go under the net, or between the net post and the net for those nets that do not extend to the net post, it is considered to have passed over or around the net assembly if you hit the ball and it goes on the opponent’s playing surface.

So, even though the ball doesn’t travel over or around the net when you hit the ball, the rules say it doesn’t matter.

This shot is only ok, as long as the ball does not end up hitting the side of the table top (white line is acceptable, side is not).