Table Tennis: What are the Illegal Serves?

Learn about illegal serves in table tennis and how to avoid them. Understand essential rules from USA Table Tennis and how to keep things in order.

Table Tennis: What are the Illegal Serves?

Table tennis is a fun and exciting sport that requires players to follow certain rules and regulations. One of the most important rules is that the ball must be thrown at least 16 cm after leaving the palm of the free hand. This means that the ball must rise at least that distance, so it is not allowed to simply move the free hand upwards and let the ball fall more than 16 cm. This is why the service method in the lower right part of the diagram is illegal, since the ball has not risen more than 16 cm, although it is allowed to fall more than 16 cm before being hit.

A game is played with 11 points and must be won by two points. Usually, one game is the best of three out of five games. If your opponent's blow goes over your side of the table without touching it and hits any part of you or your paddle, that's still your point. It's important to note that nothing is said about the location of the server (or your partner in doubles), or about the location of your free hand or your racket.

Here we summarize the essential rules of table tennis from USA Table Tennis to help you resolve those disputes in the garage or office. This means that all other service rules still apply, with the additional requirement that the ball must touch the right half of the server and then the right half of the receiver. You can touch the ball or table with the hand of the paddle (after reaching out to return a short serve, for example) or other parts of the body. It's a lot of fun to end a serious workout with fun games, such as playing with a non-expert hand, no rules, bigger tables, and other more relaxed versions of table tennis. If you hit the ball at a rally or on a serve and it bounces off the net after hitting your opponent's side of the table (due to an extreme turn), without your opponent touching it, that's your point.

Unfortunately, this also seems to be one of the rules that players break most often, and since the referee is on the server side, it's not always easy for them to ensure that a player is taking their free arm out of the way. Table tennis is all about having fun, so why don't you give one of these serves to a friend of yours to laugh at their failed attempt to return it? It's especially fun if they're busy chatting with someone else or just walking to the table so they can see what you're doing, but they can't do anything to stop you. Whether you call it ping pong, table tennis, or it smells bad, these official table tennis rules will help you keep things in order. The main intention of this service law is to ensure that the ball is thrown into the air without spinning. The attached diagram shows two separate service locations and how the space between the ball and the net changes depending on where it is located. But if there is any doubt as to whether a service is legal or not, then it is up to the referee to warn players and blame them for any future services which may be deemed dubious.