Serving hand motion

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 5 months ago

Roger Noyes

Roger Noyes Asked 5 months ago

  1. Best wished for the new year!
  2. Can the hand holding the ball dip slightly before projecting the ball upwards? 
  3. The person most knowledgeable at my club says the hand must rise, only rise as the ball gets lifted. When I serve I lower the hand a bit and then lift the ball. I am not lowering the ball below the table height and I am lifting the ball high enough.
  4. Thank you


  1. ITTF rules
  2. 2.6.2  The 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.

    1. 2.6.4  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 or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 5 months ago

Hi Roger,

The ITTF rules you've quoted (2.6.2) clearly state that during the serve, the ball must be projected near vertically upwards without imparting spin, and it must rise at least 16cm after leaving the palm of the free hand. There is no explicit rule stating that the hand must only rise, and not dip, before the ball is projected upwards. However, the action of dipping the hand before the toss could potentially be considered part of the motion of projecting the ball upwards. Some players dip their hand slightly as part of their natural serving rhythm, as long as they subsequently comply with the rules mentioned above. Therefore, if your hand movement is a slight dip before the clear upward projection, and you're satisfying the 16cm upward toss without hiding the ball (referring to rule 2.6.4), then your serve should be legal. It is critical, however, that the ball isn't moving downwards or sideways when you release it to ensure the serve is indeed near vertical. Remember that the spirit of the serving rules is to ensure fairness and allow the receiver a fair chance to see and return the serve. The particular habit of dipping the hand slightly before the toss is not against the rules, provided the subsequent toss is legal and does not deceive or hide the ball from the opponent.

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