I cannot see contact with ball

Table Tennis Discussion

Last updated 2 years ago

Gary McAdams

Gary McAdams Asked 9 years ago

Hi Alois,

I was playing in a round-robin tournament at my local club and one of my opponents was blocking the view of the point of contact with his free hand (during his serve).  He is a more advanced player than I am and would likely have beaten me anyway, but I had no chance of being able to return service effectively with him blocking my view this way.  I'm not sure if it was intentional or not.

I understand that a lot will have to do with my club's specific environment and culture but was wondering if there is some sort of generally accepted table tennis etiquette for this type of situation, so that I might find a tactful and appropriate way to address it.  Any thoughts?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Gary,

This is always a bad situation.  The service rule makes it difficult to police well.  The only real etiquette is to mention it to the player in the best way that you can or talk to the umpire.  When there is no official umpire it makes it a very difficult situation.

Does anyone else have a good way of dealing with this situation?

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Thoughts on this question

Ruben Moniz

Ruben Moniz Posted 9 years ago

 Looking at the serving rule below, it seems very plain to me that if an opponent hides the contact of the ball during service, it is an illegal service. As Alois has mentioned if after you have brought up your concern to your opponent he/she must modify the serve to allow full view of the contact point or risk loosing the point.  

No hiding

Rule 2.06.05 now states that...

"As soon as the ball has been projected, the server's free arm and hand shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net."

“The main purpose of this rule is to make sure that the receiver (and the umpire) can see the ball throughout the service action.

This means that the receiver will be able to see the racket as it strikes the ball and therefore the receiver will have a much better chance of reading the spin, and, therefore, returning the service.

This rule is an extension of rule 2.06.04 and was introduced to stop players from hiding the contact point of the racket on the ball ... because if your opponent can't see your racket striking the ball, he can't judge how much spin you're imparting onto the ball ... so his chances of making a good return are significantly diminished.”


From; http://www.allabouttabletennis.com/official-table-tennis-rules.html

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 9 years ago


As Ruben mentioned, the rule is rather clear. The problem is that unless you video-recorded the serve upfront, if your opponent is not totally fair-play, and worse, when there is no empire, it can be difficult to get the guy to admit his serve is illegal. Often, unless he really does it on purpose and could do the same serves legally, he will know that changing his gesture will produce serves of a lesser quality, so he may be reluctant to comply.

If you play in a team event, I would suggest you to have a team mate have a look and backing you up.

If you are alone, make sure you don't wait to trail behind by too much before you say something, or else, if your opponent is not straight out cheating, it will look like you're trying to destabilize him because you're about to lose. So don't hesitate to say it as soon as you know it wasn't just a one-two times honest mistake.

Personally, I hate to start such arguments, especially against an otherwise nice guy, so I usually wait to see if I'm really handicapped (i.e. see if I make a lot of serve return errors) before I say something, but as I mentioned earlier, this is not a good policy.


I've also experienced a good amount of people who do other illegal serves like:

# Throw the ball against the bat (can produce a lot of speed and spin).

# Hide the ball below the table when starting to throw the ball (not very problematic usually).

# Throw the ball backwards a lot (can produce more top/underspin).


Finally, nobody's perfect and everybody plays a bit with the limits of the rules (nobody consistently throws the ball in a perfect vertical line), so don't overreact !



Oscar Moe Myint

Oscar Moe Myint Posted 9 years ago

Some doesn't toss the ball to the height of 6 inches . Is this too illegal?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Yes it is.

Garuda Bhatnagar

Garuda Bhatnagar Posted 3 years ago

It happens sometimes. with me also 

Jasper Low

Jasper Low Posted 3 years ago

My coach tosses the ball low to make it faster 

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