Table of Contents

Introduction

          Table tennis, widely recognized as ping-pong, is a dynamic sport that evolved from traditional tennis. Played on a hard table divided by a net, the game involves two or four players who hit a lightweight ball back and forth using small rackets. The sport demands quick reflexes and sharp strategy, making it popular not only as a competitive sport but also as a fun, accessible recreational activity. With a rich history rooted in Victorian England, table tennis has grown to become a beloved indoor sport played globally.

History

        The origins of table tennis date back to Victorian England, where it started as an after-dinner parlour game among the upper class. Initially played with makeshift equipment like books for nets and a golf ball, the game was formalized with the advent of specialized equipment in the early 20th century. The sport quickly spread internationally, leading to the establishment of standardized rules and the founding of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in 1926. Table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988, reflecting its global appeal and competitive nature.

Scoring

      Scoring is based on a system where players earn points by successfully landing the ball on the opponent’s side of the table in such a way that the opponent fails to make a valid return. The game is typically played to 11 points, and a player must win by at least a two-point margin. Service alternates every two points between players until one player reaches 10 points, after which service alternates after each point. Matches are generally played as best of five or best of seven games. If both players reach 10 points, the game continues until one player gains a two-point advantage.

Equipments

The Table

      The playing surface in table tennis is a pivotal aspect of the game, dictating the speed, bounce, and dynamics of play. Official regulations specify that the table must be 2.74 meters long, 1.525 meters wide, and 76 centimeters high, with a uniformly dark colored and matte surface. This ensures minimal reflection and consistent playability. A white line, 2 centimeters wide, borders the table, delineating the playing area, crucial for both singles and doubles play. The net, bisecting the table, stands 15.25 centimeters high, its upper edge running parallel to the table surface, further impacting the game’s flow and strategies employed by players.

The Net Assembly

          The net assembly in table tennis includes the net, its suspension, and the supporting posts, including the clamps attaching them to the table. The net must be suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 15.25 cm high. The outer limits of the post are 15.25 cm outside the sideline. The net, extending 15.25 cm above and beyond the sides of the table, should be pulled taut to maintain a consistent height for fair play.

The Ball

          In table tennis, the ball is spherical, with a diameter of 40 millimeters and a weight of 2.7 grams. It must be made of celluloid or a similar plastic material, ensuring consistent performance and durability during play. The ball’s uniformity in terms of size, weight, and material is crucial for fair competition, affecting bounce, spin, and speed. This standardization is essential for both casual play and professional matches, maintaining the sport’s integrity and predictability.

The Racket

        In table tennis, the racket, or paddle, is a crucial component designed to impact the game significantly through its composition and surface. The racket may be of any size, shape, or weight, but it must have a flat and rigid blade. The blade’s material must consist of at least 85% natural wood by thickness. It can include a layer of fibrous material like carbon fiber or glass fiber, but this layer should not exceed 7.5% of the total thickness or 0.35mm, whichever is smaller.

       The surface of the blade used to strike the ball must be covered in rubber. This can be either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards, not more than 2.0mm thick including adhesive, or sandwich rubber, which consists of a layer of cellular rubber covered by a layer of ordinary pimpled rubber, also not exceeding 4.0mm in total thickness.

       The racket’s covering must extend up to, but not beyond, the blade’s limits except near the handle, which may remain uncovered or covered differently. Furthermore, the surface on the striking side must be matte, with one side being black and the other a bright color distinctly different from both the black side and the color of the ball.

       All these specifications ensure that the racket adheres to the standards that maintain the sport’s competitive integrity, providing a uniform gameplay experience across all levels of table tennis competition​​.

Rules on Service

Starting the Service

    The service begins with the ball resting freely on the open palm of the server’s stationary free hand.

Ball Projection

    The server must then project the ball upwards without imparting any spin, ensuring that it rises at least 16 cm after leaving the palm of the hand before it falls without touching anything.

Execution of the Service

        As the ball is falling, the server must strike it so that it first touches their own side of the table and then, directly or diagonally, touches the opponent’s side. In doubles, the ball must touch successively the right half of both the server’s and the receiver’s courts.

Visibility and Positioning

        From the start of the service until it is struck, the ball must remain above the level of the playing surface and behind the server’s end line. It is crucial that the ball is not hidden from the receiver at any point by the server, their doubles partner, or by anything they wear or carry.

Post-Service Obligations

           Immediately after the ball is projected, the server’s free arm and hand must be removed from the space between the ball and the net, which is defined by the ball, the net, and its indefinite upward extension.

Umpire's Role

           It is the responsibility of the server to serve in a manner that allows the umpire or assistant umpire to be satisfied that all service requirements are met. If there is any doubt about the legality of a service, an official may interrupt play to warn the server initially; any subsequent dubious services can be deemed incorrect.

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