Beginner’s Guide to Ping Pong

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Beginner's Guide to Ping Pong

Ping pong (or table tennis) is a favorite option in many gamerooms. It’s a fun and exciting game that can be played by 2 or 4 people, and you can even practice by yourself if you want to. All you need to play is a ping pong table, a net, a few paddles, and a ball.

Ping Pong vs. Table Tennis

Before we get into the details of the article, you may be wondering, “what is the difference between ping pong and table tennis?” The answer is, nothing except the name. You may have heard that there are differences in the rules or differences in the tables, but that is not correct. It is the same game, just two different names. For recreational players it is often called ping pong, but serious tournament players will usually call it table tennis. Since our audience is mostly people who will be playing for fun at home, we’ll go with ping pong.

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Basic Rules of Ping Pong

  • The first player, or team if you’re playing doubles, to reach 11 points wins the game. However, you must win by two points, so if the score is 11-10 the game will continue until one player achieves a two-point lead.
  • Matches are made up of multiple games. It could be best of 3, best of 5, or best of 7. For example, if the match is best of 5, the first player to win 3 games will be the winner of the match.
  • There is no set rule to determine who serves first. You could flip a coin or decide some other way.
  • One player will serve the ball two times, and then the other player will serve the ball two times. You’ll go back-and-forth like this throughout the game, switching every two serves.
  • After each game, the players switch sides of the table.

Ping Pong Table Height and Dimensions

An official ping pong table is:

  • 9 feet long (2.74 meters)
  • 5 feet wide (1.525 meters)
  • 2 feet 6 inches high (76 cm)
  • The net is 6 inches (15.25 cm) high

The size of ping pong tables can vary, but for tournaments and competitions us the  standard size and regulations listed above.

How to Serve in Ping Pong

  • You must have the ball in front of you in view of the opponent, not hidden behind your arm or anything else.
  • You must throw the ball at least six inches straight up in the air, not towards your opponent or towards yourself.
  • After you throw the ball in the air you hit it, and it must bounce once on your side of the table, go over the net, and then bounce once on the other side of the table.
  • The center line on the table is not relevant if you are playing singles. If you are playing doubles you must serve diagonally (meaning, you serve from the right side and the ball must go over the net and land on the left side (from your perspective) of the opponent’s side of the table.
  • If the serve touches the net but goes over the net and hits the other side of the table, it is called a “let” and the serve is re-done.

For a more detailed explanation, see my article Ping Pong Serving Rules.

Letting the Ball Bounce

Unlike in tennis, you must let the ball bounce on your side of the table before hitting it. You cannot hit it out of the air.

Have Fun!

That basically covers the rules of the game. It’s pretty simple, especially once you start playing. Ping pong is a great game that will bring hours of entertainment in your home. If you don’t already have a ping pong table, it is one of our top recommendations for your game room.

About the Author Alberto Restrepo

I live in Pennsylvania with my wife and four children. Time with family is very important to me, so I started Gameroom Vault to help others find fun ways to spend time with their families at home.

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