Service Rules Enforced Consistently

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 8 years ago

Rohan Rurik

Rohan Rurik Asked 8 years ago

hello.  I am watching your serving videos.  In service rules, Jeff is quite clear on what constitutes a legal toss up. In Pendulum Serves, all your toss ups look illegal.  Especially when Alois is serving.  The ball's arch seems extreme. I see serves like this all the time.  In the Olympics, Ding Ning got penalized for tossing the ball backwards. please explain. Thank you.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Answered 8 years ago

Hi Rohan,

You make some very good observations. The problem with the rules is that they can be interpreted differently and are often enforced differently. The term near vertical can mean different things to different people.

When Alois and I played table tennis, no one really ever got faulted as long as they threw the ball up at least 6 inches. What is now a bad habit has been ingrained over years and years of practice so it is actually very difficult for Alois and I to serve by throwing the ball up almost perfectly vertical. And as you mention a lot of players at the Olympics serve very similarly to Alois and don't get called for faults either.

For new players learning to serve, it is certainly better to try and follow the rules as closely as possible to avoid any problems in the future.

I personally think the service rules are too complex and are not enforced consistently. It's not really fair to let a player to not be faulted for years and then suddenly be faulted in an important match as happened to Ding Ning. if faults are going to be called, they need to be enforced consistently at all levels.

As you can see this is not a simple issue.


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Rohan Rurik

Rohan Rurik Posted 8 years ago

Thank you for your quick response.  Always helpful.  


Vijay Madge

Vijay Madge Posted 8 years ago

Jeff is right. The problem in all games and not only in TT is the inconsistent enforcement of rules. My favourite Ding Ning lost her title because of the umpire's whimsical interpretation. She deserved to win and was playing superbly till that moment.



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