Rules and Regulations in Table Tennis

Table tennis, also known as ping pong, is a lively sport about hitting a small ball over a net so the other player can’t hit it back. It might sound easy, but there’s more to it. To really get into the game and play it right, it’s important to know rules and regulations in table tennis.

Whether you’ve been playing for a while or just starting, this guide will help you understand how to play properly. 

Table Tennis Equipment

The International Table Tennis Federation sets the rules for the table, paddles, and ball. They ensure that every game is fair and equal for everyone. 

A table tennis match is played on a special table. This table is about 9 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 2.5 feet high.

The top of the table is smooth and lets the ball bounce quickly. A net that’s about 6 inches high splits the table into two halves.

Players use paddles, also called racquets, to hit the ball. These paddles have a wooden part and a rubber covering.

The rubber can change the ball’s movement, making it spin or go fast. The ball used in the game is small, light, and round, about the size of a golf ball.


Ping Pong Playing Area

Think of a table tennis table like a battlefield with a net in the middle that splits it into two sides.

The net is about 15 centimeters high and ensures the ball goes into your opponent’s side first.

In doubles, an extra line down the middle makes two smaller boxes for serving. The rules and regulations in table tennis say you must serve in the right box on the other side.

Knowing how the table is split up is important. It tells you where you’re allowed to serve and where you can hit the ball back. Getting the hang of these areas is key to playing table tennis well. 


The Serve in Ping Pong Rules

In table tennis, the serve is the first move in a point and can give you an edge if done well. Here’s how to serve according to the ping pong rules.

The player serving holds the ball flat on their open hand behind the table’s end line. The serve must be fair, so the ball and the player’s hand must be visible to the other player at all times. 

The server must throw the ball straight up at least 16 centimeters, which gives the other player a fair chance to see and get ready for the serve.

When the ball is in the air, the server hits it so that it bounces once on its side and then goes over the net to bounce on the other player’s side.

Servers can use different speeds, spins, and directions to make the serve harder to return.

The ball can land anywhere on the other side in singles, but it must go diagonally across the net.

In doubles, the serve must go to a specific area on the other side, which is the service box. Remembering these rules can help make the serve a strong part of your game. 


Basic Rule of Table Tennis Scoring

In official ping pong rules, each rally ends with one player getting a point. Here’s how players score points: 

Opponent Fails to Return

The most common way to score a point is when your opponent fails to return the ball into play. This can happen if they:

  • Miss the ball completely.
  • Hit the ball out of bounds (beyond the table’s edge or onto the net).
  • Hit the ball before it bounces on their side of the table (except on the serve).

Double Bounce

If the ball bounces twice on your opponent’s side of the table before they hit it back, you will receive a point.

The game format rules of tennis table are designed to ensure a close and exciting competition:

  • Games – The first player to reach 11 points wins the game. However, there’s a twist – to win, a player must be ahead by two points. This means the game can continue past 10-10 (called deuce) until one player achieves a two-point lead (e.g., 12-10 or 13-11).
  • Matches – Matches typically consist of an odd number of games (best of 3, 5, or 7). The player who wins the most games is the winner. 

Table Tennis Rules & Regulations Summarized

Remember that this isn’t a complete list, but it covers table tennis rules and regulations most players often debate. 

  1. Games are played to 11 points and must be won by a two-point margin. Matches are usually best of five games.
  1. Players alternate serving every two points. If the score reaches 10-10, serves alternate after every point. You can lose a point on your serve.
  1. When serving, toss the ball at least 6 inches straight up and hit it on the way down. It must bounce on your side first, then the opponent’s. The opponent gets the point if you miss the ball after tossing it.
  1. In singles, the serve can land anywhere on the opponent’s side of the table.
  1. In doubles, serves must go diagonally from the server’s right side to the receiver’s right side. Partners switch places after serving twice.
  1. A “let” is called if the serve touches the net but still lands correctly. The serve is then replayed without penalty.
  1. In doubles, partners must alternate hits during a rally.
  1. You cannot hit the ball before it bounces on your side, known as a volley. Doing so gives the point to your opponent.
  1. If your hit bounces back over the net after touching the opponent’s side, you win the point.
  1. The ball can touch your paddle hand during play. Your opponent gets the point if it touches any other part of your body.
  1. You can’t touch the table with your non-paddle hand. Your opponent wins the point if the table moves because you touched it.
  1. A ball that hits the top edge of the table and bounces off is still in play. The vertical sides are not part of the playing surface.
  1. If there’s a disagreement and no referee, players should use the honor system to resolve it or replay the point. The game is known for its fair play.

Variations in Table Tennis

Table tennis is a versatile sport with rules and regulations that can be adjusted to suit different players and styles. Here are some of the popular ways to play:

Singles vs. Doubles

You can play singles on your own or team up with a partner in doubles. Singles matches are all about your skill, while doubles require you to work with your teammate.

Playing with Disabilities

Table tennis is inclusive, with special rules & regulations to help those with disabilities enjoy the game. It is called Para table tennis.

These can include using special paddles, changing the net height, or other rule adjustments to meet players’ needs.

These variations ensure that table tennis is accessible and fun for everyone, regardless of their playing style or ability level. 


Table tennis is more than just hitting a ball. Knowing the rules can make the game really enjoyable, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing for a while.

It’s a game full of challenges, smart plays, and the joy of making a great shot. So pick up your paddle and start playing!


What's the goal in table tennis❓

Hit the ball over the net so your opponent can’t return it.

How do you score a point in ping pong❓

Your opponent misses the ball, hits it out, or hits it before it bounces on their side (except on the serve).

How many points win a game in table tennis❓

First to 11 points, but you must win by two points!

How often do I serve in table tennis❓

You trade turns serving two points at a time, except at deuce (10-10) where turns change after every point.

Who control rules & regulations of table tennis❓

The rules and regulations of table tennis are controlled and governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

How Long Do Tennis Matches Last?

Without a clock in tennis, the length of matches can vary considerably. No one knows how long do tennis matches last, but there are some ways to at least predict the average length.

How Long are Tennis Matches?

The average length of a tennis match is 97 minutes. However, since tennis games are not limited to a specific time period, some matches only last 40 minutes, while others can last more than 3 hours. 

How long are tennis matches lasts depends mainly on the number of sets a tennis match lasts, and most of them are in the range of 40 to 60 minutes.

If you are interested more about tennis, you can read about the best tennis matches in the world.

How Long Does a Tennis Match Last of Three Sets?

At most levels of tennis, a match is played to the best of three sets. This means that the first team to win two sets wins the match.

This format works not only to help people stay in shape during the match and tournament, but it also makes things much more predictable over time.


In a best-of-three sets match, there are fewer variables that will alter the timing of the entire match. 

This type of setup makes the most sense for everyone involved during most events. There are many instances where a tournament or even a TV show gets completely derailed because a match goes on for an incredibly long time.

Everything is much more likely to stay on time (at least to some extent) in a best-of-three-set format. You have the opportunity for a third set, but that usually adds less than an hour to the match at most.

Unbalanced matches in a best-of-three format still take at least 30 to 45 minutes. Even if the two players are not equally skilled, it takes time to win a minimum of 48 points to win two sets.

On the other hand, a competitive three-set match can last more than three hours. The tiebreaker at the end of the set certainly helps, as the previous format in some cases depended on a player winning by two games in the final set.

How Long is a Five-Set Tennis Match?

There is something special about a best-of-five configuration played by the men in Grand Slams.

These are the only instances where this format is used, turning Grand Slams into a battle of skill and endurance. Fans love the extra drama it brings.

Unfortunately, a best-of-five-set match is incredibly unpredictable with the total time, meaning a fan could get stuck in a match that lasts five hours or more.

Even if a matchup is completely lopsided, the match still needs three sets to declare a winner.

It is doubtful that any best-of-five-set match will end in less than 90 minutes. Where it becomes unpredictable is if the match is not a straight sets win.

Anything that lasts four sets or more as pushes it to at least the 3-hour mark.

This is because there is at least one additional set and it is assumed that at least one of those sets was quite competitive and took a long time.

Marathon matches often last five sets, as that can last hours and hours. A five-set match brings all kinds of drama at Grand Slams, but often throws the entire schedule off in the process.

Tiebreakers Make Matches Last Longer

It took a while, but now it’s getting closer and closer to being universal, and every major has a tiebreaker situation set up to keep matches from dragging on too long.

There used to be a time when it was necessary to play the fifth set until one player had a two-set lead. 

Now, heading into a tiebreaker ensures that the match comes to an end sooner rather than later. At least, everywhere but the French Open.

The penultimate holdout was Wimbledon, as they hosted the longest match in history. At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, John Isner and Niclas Mahut played a match that lasted 11 hours and five minutes.

Wimbledon received a lot of notoriety for this, but they also knew it wouldn’t exactly help with ratings and scheduling in the long run. No one has time to fixate on a match that lasted three days and lasted over 11 hours.

This new tiebreaker plan at Wimbledon now starts at 12-12 in the fifth set.

If a match reaches its point, there is a seven-point tiebreaker to determine the winner. The U.S. Open and Australian Open start the seven-point tiebreaker when it is 6-6 in the fifth set.

Speeding Up the Game

Everyone knows that tennis games can be quite lengthy at times, so they are doing their best to speed up the game in subtle ways.

Perhaps the most controversial new change is the installation of a server clock. A player has a set amount of time to start the next point once everything comes to an end from the previous point.

Players currently at the pro level did not grow up with this clock, so it has caused some confusion and controversy so far. People will receive warnings and even lose points if they consistently miss the clock.

They are also limiting options like medical timeouts, breaks between sets, training and more. This is all done to fix the game a bit more and see if a few minutes can be saved here and there.

It won’t make much difference at the end of the day, but it helps keep the fans in the game. It could also help the tournament director determine the schedule.

The Longest Match in the World


On 22 June 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest match in tennis history at Wimbledon: it lasted no less than 11 hours and 6 minutes. Between one thing and another, it had to be played on three different days. 

Why was the match so long? Until a few years ago, Grand Slam tournaments were defined by the best of five sets, but in the fifth set there was no tie break (as in the other sets) or super tie break (as now), but the players had to beat their opponents by two games.

How did they reach this situation? Both players excelled with their serve, so the points were short and the match was full of aces (113 for Isner and 103 for Mahut. They are the record 1 and 2 of aces scored in the same match respectively).


Unlike sports like soccer and basketball, you never know how long a tennis event will last.

Longer matches are generally considered better and more competitive, but it can get to the point where matches last too long for the average fan to stay interested.

Tennis may undergo some changes in the coming years to help make the times a little more even, but it is one of the most popular sports in the world without a clock to dictate play.


How long does a tennis match last❓

The average length of a tennis match is approximately 97 minutes, but it can vary significantly.

What factors influence the duration of a tennis match❓

The number of sets, competitiveness of the players, and tiebreaker situations can all impact the length of a tennis match.

How long is a standard best-of-three-set tennis match❓

A best-of-three-set match typically lasts between 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on the level of competition and match intensity.

How long does a best-of-five-set tennis match last❓

Best-of-five-set matches, common in Grand Slam tournaments for men, can range from 2.5 to 5 hours or more, with higher variability due to the potential for longer sets.

What role do tiebreakers play in the duration of tennis matches❓

Tiebreakers help expedite match endings, especially in deciding sets, preventing matches from extending indefinitely.

How has tennis adapted to speed up the game❓

Initiatives such as server clocks, limiting timeouts, and reducing break times aim to streamline matches and keep fans engaged.

What was the longest tennis match in history❓

The longest tennis match occurred at Wimbledon in 2010 between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, lasting a staggering 11 hours and 6 minutes over three days.

Why do some tennis matches last longer than others❓

Factors like player skill, serve dominance, match competitiveness, and format (best-of-three vs. best-of-five sets) contribute to varying match durations.

What are the Best Tennis Matches of All Time?

We know how exciting tennis can be. But do you know what the best tennis matches of all time look like?

We have carefully listed the top 15 tennis matches of all the major competitions of the year.

The 15 Best Tennis Matches Ever

Don’t take this best tennis match of all time ranking too seriously either, as your opinion of the game may differ from ours.

Here is the list of best tennis matches of all time:

15. Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer (2019)

The 2019 Wimbledon final is the last to join this list. Considered one of the best matches in tennis, many are backing Roger Federer.

Unfortunately, Novak Djokovic can stop them and win the match even if he plays well.

Moreover, the match lasted more than 5 hours, under the old rules Djokovic and Federer played much longer. When the final set was tied at 12, Wimbledon changed the format to a fifth-set tiebreaker.

However, Djokovic went into the tiebreak with a solid performance, winning 7-3.

14. Stan Wawrinka vs Novak Djokovic

The match between Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2015 French Open is sometimes overlooked, but it was perhaps one of the most unexpected defeats in tennis history.


In this match, Stan Wawrinka defeated Roger Federer in the quarter-finals and Novak Djokovic in the final in four sets. He beat the No. 1 and No. 2 best men’s tennis players in the world.

It’s the best and least expected thing at a tennis tournament.

Although Djokovic took the lead in the first set, Wawrinka came back to win the next two legs. He won the next three sets without a tiebreak.

13. Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer struggled to win a Grand Slam ahead of the 2017 Australian Open, and although his last win was in 2012, many have speculated that his championship era is over.

As a result, many believe that Rafael Nadal should take him on and build on his status as a young player after reaching the final.

To everyone’s surprise, things didn’t go as planned as Federer quickly took the lead and won the first set. In other words, Federer played the best set of his career in the third set after Nadal equalised.

The 35-year-old thus became Grand Slam champion for the fifth time after winning his fifth title.

12. Novak Djokovic against Roger Federer (2014)

Djokovic was one of the most dominant players until 2011. However, he slowed down and stopped winning majors.

In 2014, however, he turned things around and started a great match by beating Roger Federer in the final in five sets.

There were two tiebreaks throughout the match, with the first set being the best set in the history of Grand Slam tennis.

The players understood the importance of a fast start and Federer won 9-7 in the tiebreak, where Djokovic went on to win all the other deciding matches, eventually breaking serve in the fourth and fifth sets.

11. Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic

This is perhaps the most telling evidence of Rafael Nadal’s dominance on clay. It is one of the best tennis matches of all time. Nadal at his peak against Novak Djokovic.

Many expected Rafael Nadal to beat Djokovic quickly in the fourth set after taking a two-set lead in the third.

In this match, both players hit amazing shots with amazing play. It’s fantastic to see these two talented players go head to head with equal support from both sides.

In the fifth set, however, Nadal finally managed a break. As a result, he returned triumphant and won the French Open title for the second time.

10. Roger Federer against Andy Roddick

The two players here are regarded as one of the best tennis matches of all time and are roughly the same age. Not to mention that both are at the pinnacle of success.

In this match, Roddick seems to have beaten Federer for the first time. The tiebreak decided two of the five sets, while the final set lasted 30 games.

Despite Roddick’s excellent serve, Federer enjoyed a well-deserved break. In the end, in the end, Roger Federer won the match 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14.

9. Novak Djokovic against Rafael Nadal

As we all know, this is the longest Grand Slam final in sporting history. The 2012 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was a long and difficult match.

Spectators could see that both players struggled to keep their composure throughout the match.

Although the pair played well late in the fifth set, Nadal’s closeness to victory was perhaps the most annoying thing about it.

He took an early lead in the fifth set, breaking Djokovic’s serve and leading 4-2. Djokovic took it to the next level in the fifth set as he fought back and eventually traded serves to his death, winning 7-5.

8. Pete Sampras v Andre Agassi

Voted one of the best tennis matches of all time, the 2001 US Open between legends Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi was actually great for both of them.

They also played four sets in the fourth round, all of which went to a tiebreak. Sampras won three with his incredible serve, which enabled him to win the match.

But two of America’s best tennis players faced each other on New York’s biggest stage. It was their last remarkable encounter.

7. Rafael Nadal vs Fernando Verdasco

The match between the two friends Nadal and Verdasco is tricky because they know each other’s winning strategies.


Many predicted that Fernando Verdasco would lose to Nadal in straight sets in this match. Verdasco, however, is determined to prove otherwise.

Although the match went to five sets, Nadal managed to win. It was not an easy victory, as Verdasco put him to the ultimate test of the tournament, which is still remembered today.

6. John Isner v Nicholas Mahut

Match No. 6 between Isner and Mahut in the first round of Wimbledon 2010 will go down as one of the longest tennis matches.

Speaking of the match, both players shared the first two sets, so it was relatively quiet at first.

Although her return was poor, her serve and return skills were excellent. As a result, the match turned into a multi-day match. In the end, Isner won the fifth set 70:68.

5.  Rafael Nadal against Roger Federer

Perhaps it was because the match was between two rivals, or the quality of play, but it was a battle in the 2008 Wimbledon final.

The match began with Nadal taking an early 2-0 lead, but Federer turned it around in the third and fourth sets, winning consecutive tiebreaks and creating an epic fifth set. Chaos ensues when two players fight for the upper hand.

The match had to be temporarily interrupted at 5:4 due to rain delays. It became harder to watch, but Nadal finally broke through and won in the twilight.

Above all, it was a great moment in Nadal’s career as he proved he was more than a clay court expert by ousting Federer and ending his monopoly on the sport.

4. Roger Federer vs Pete Sampras

The match between two of the most talented players of all time is regarded as one of the best matches in tennis. In this match, Federer is only 19 and a vastly underrated player compared to Sampras.

To be clear: Sampras had a winning streak of 31 matches at Wimbledon. That makes him the greatest grass court player of all time.

Two of those sets ended in a tiebreak; however, after finding a serve that broke Sampras, Federer was able to win 7-5.

3.  Ivan Lendl against John McEnroe

In the final of the 1984 French Open, McEnroe was chosen as the man most likely to win a Grand Slam title. He also easily won the first two sets.

But to everyone’s surprise, Lendl gained more and more momentum after winning the third set.

In the fourth set, some of McEnroe’s escapades turned in Lendl’s favour. Lendl then rode the wind and the waves to victory.

2.  John McEnroe vs Bjorn Borg (1981)

The 1981 Wimbledon final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg is one of the greatest tennis matches of all time and many people’s favourite tennis match.

Many doubt that McEnroe can crack Borg’s game in this match. However, the first of McEnroe’s three victories on grass was the most memorable moment.

McEnroe won each of these sets, although two of them went to a tie-break. He therefore won four sets and ultimately won the match.

1.  Björn Borg v John McEnroe (1980) – Best Tennis Match Ever

It is the best tennis match ever  it is filled with the most memorable moments and the best match between the two players.

Borg got off to a slow start and lost the first set 6:1, but the series that followed became tighter.

John McEnroe against Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final (Source: Youtube)

Swedish legend Björn Borg ended the fifth set 18-16.

Final Thoughts

There have been several iconic tennis matches over the years. In our best tennis matches of all time list we have selected that the best tennis match ever happened in 1980 against Björn Borg and John McEnroe. 


What is the best tennis match ever❓

The best tennis match ever is widely regarded as the 1980 Wimbledon final between Björn Borg and John McEnroe.

What are the best tennis matches of all time❓

Some of the best tennis matches of all time include the 1980 Wimbledon final between Björn Borg and John McEnroe, the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and the 2012 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

What are the top tennis matches ever played❓

Top tennis matches include the 1980 Wimbledon final between Björn Borg and John McEnroe, the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and the 2012 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Who won the longest tennis match in history❓

John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in an epic Wimbledon match in 2010, lasting 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days. Isner won 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

Has there ever been a perfect tennis match❓

No, there has never been a perfect tennis match where a player wins every single point without losing any.