Serving inside the lines

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 1 month ago

John Wright

John Wright Asked 2 months ago

We have always had the home court  rule that when serving, the ball must land inside the horizontal (side) lines, at the end of the table.  It must cross the end of the table in other words.  So you cannot sharply angle the ball off the sides of the table 'above' the end of the table.  Is this a fair rule...or a rule at all?  Pls advise so Grandad can end this discussion, once and for all.  


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 1 month ago

Hello John,

According to the official rules set by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF),

1. The server must first throw the ball at least 16 cm (approximately 6 inches) in the air from an open hand.

2. The ball must be struck so that it touches the server's court first and then, after passing over or around the net assembly, touches the receiver's court.

3. During service, the ball can go off the side of the table after it has touched the receiver's side. There is no rule specifying that the ball must cross the end line of the receiver's side of the table. In other words, as long as the ball first bounces on the server's side and then bounces on the opponent's side, it is a legal serve, even if it travels off the side of the table without crossing the end line. This applies to both singles and doubles play.

So, the home court rule you're referring to is not an official ITTF rule. In official table tennis matches, sharply angled serves that bounce off the side of the table are entirely legal and can be a strategic way to serve.  Sorry if you didn't win the argument...


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