How To Play Ping Pong: A Beginner’s Guide – PingPongUp

Pingpong, most commonly known as Table Tennis is an interesting game widely played all over the world both in local support tournaments and at the International Level.

Previously this game was identified as ping pong, considered to be more of a fun game played at homes, in sports clubs, and in the outdoor gaming areas. With the passage of time, when people got to know about the amazing physical and mental benefits of ping pong, some sports equipment companies started to manufacture professional equipment through which the game started to gain popularity and was ultimately recognized at International Level. Now ping pong is professionally known as table tennis with various rules and regulations organized by the regulatory authorities.

Below are some of the rules and regulations defining how to play ping-pong and the skills required to have a win-win situation while playing at the National and International levels.

How to play ping pong

Equipment Required to Play Ping-Pong:

Before going into in-depth details about how to play ping-pong or table tennis, it is important to get a know-how of the basic equipment used to play ping-pong.

As per my experience, to gain professional-level skills, you do not actually require high-quality professional equipment. You can master your ping-pong skills by practicing at your home with the mere availability of a pingpong table,  a racket, and a ball. Now the question arises, if I do not have a partner to play with, how can I practice wherever and whenever I want? The good news is that ping pong practice can be done alone without any partner. Finding a partner for practice might not allow you to have the maximum practice house and ping pong is a kind of game in which practice is very important.

1- Importance of Practice and Availability of the Practicing Partner:

In the comfort of your home, you need a table leaning against a wall and you can easily practice with the help of your racket and ball. Ideally, you should be having a proper ping pong racket and a 4mm soft plastic ball used in professional tournaments. This will allow you to master your skills and while playing at the Olympics, you won’t feel alien about the types of equipment you have been using while practicing. Also, read the How to Replace Table Tennis Rubber?

While playing ping-pong or table tennis, the players have to be extremely quick and prompt in their actions. This requires split-second decisions while reacting to the opponent’s move. The player must practice each move hundreds of times so that the move gets saved in his/her muscle memory allowing him to automatically respond to the opponent in a split second.

As per the expert’s advice, ideally, each move should be practiced more than 11 thousand times per day to achieve a higher level of mastery in ping pong skills. For example, if you feel that you are weak in service, the best thing to overcome this weakness is to lean your table against a wall and practice serving, considering the wall as your opponent. Imagine a point on the wall where your opponent player is standing and mark that point with a pen/a sticking tape. This method is considered to be one of the best practicing methods allowing the player to practice several times without any hurdles.

2- Knowing the Best Gripping Techniques

The second most important part of the ping-pong game is to practice the gripping techniques. Experts say that the way you grip your pingpong paddle actually defines if you are going to win or lose on the game field.

For the sake of mastering the ping-pong skills, experts and ping-pong trainers have introduced several pingpong paddle gripping techniques that are suitable for all kinds of players such as left-hand players, right-hand players, and even wheelchair players who are bound to play in their wheelchairs with limited body movements flexibility.

We will not get into a very detailed explanation of the gripping techniques, but I will summarize all the techniques in a very comprehensive way so that you would be able to diagnose each technique and choose the best one for you while practicing.

As per my experience, I have personally mastered 2-3 grip techniques that helped me to play with more versatility, confusing the opponent in every move. Isn’t that amazing?  You can learn and master multiple techniques to confuse your opponent.

Commonly Adopted Gripping Techniques and some Tips and Tricks:

Commonly used ping pong paddle gripping techniques are the penhold and the shakehand techniques. The names are self-explanatory. In a penhold grip, the shape of the hand would be similar to the position when you are holding a pen. Gripping the handle with the first index finger and the thumb would allow you to have the maximum grip on your paddle in such a way that your hand would be relaxed even during long playing hours.

Mostly penhold technique was adopted by the Asian players but later on by others as well.

The second commonly used technique is the shake hand gripping technique. In this technique, the paddle is gripped in such a way that it looks like the player is shaking hands with the paddle. This technique offers high wrist flexibility and loss of grip allowing the player to play for several hours without any stress on the hand. Also, read the Clean and Maintain a Table Tennis Table.

Experts Advise on how to choose the Best Gripping Technique While Playing the Ping Pong or Table Tennis Match:

Various sub-categories are included in shakehand and penhold grips but the trick is to lose the grip no matter which gripping technique you are following. The grip should not be too tight and too loose allowing maximum wrist flexibility and changing the gripping position whenever required while playing the game. For example, while making a forehand stork, the shake hand grip would be the best grip. However, while making a down and stroke, this grip would not be considered ideal and the player has to change the grip accordingly during the course of the match.

Hence, all gripping techniques should be practiced by the player but the master grip should be a maximum of one or two.

3- Deciding the Serving Player: 

The above two sub-headings were to make you understand the basic skills and equipment required in a ping-pong game. However, the actual procedure of how to play ping-pong or table tennis starts from here.

The first step in each sport whether it’s a ping pong/ table tennis match, badminton or tennis match, or any other sport, the first step is always to choose the party who is going to play first. This first move is officially known as to serve in ping-pong/table tennis. There are different methods used in sports to choose the first player/team. In ping pong, the International Table Tennis Federation had declared the flipping coin method to be officially recognized to choose the first player. The winning player has the right to choose if he wants to serve or not. Also, check the Table Tennis Tips.

However, in unofficially played ping-pong matches, people uses a different technique to decide who to serve first for example one of the players would hide a coin in one of his hands closing the palm and asking the other player to guess the coin is in which hand, if he guesses right, he would be given the opportunity to decide if he wants to play first or not.

4- Starting the Match with Service:

After deciding which player is going to serve, I would like all of you to know how to serve the ball. The method is quite simpler but the technique varies as per different coaches and trainers.

To do the service, International Table Tennis Federation had declared an officially standardized serving procedure. To do the service, the player must bounce the ball in the air vertically to a height of a minimum of 6 inches and then hit the ball towards his side of the table in such a way that it firsts hit on his side for once and then bounces forwards towards the opponents’ side of table crossing the net.

However, the serving technique may vary as per singles and doubles.

  • If you are playing singles (meaning a total of two players are playing, one on each side) there is no strictness on which part of the opponent’s table the ball should hit. The ball can hit any part of the opponent’s table crossing the net without any fault. However, in the case of doubles (a total of 4 players are involved in a match, two players on each side, making 2 teams) if the player on the right side is doing the service, it is mandatory that the ball must hit the right side of the opponent’s table and vice versa.
  • After 2 points a scored by either of the teams, the side of serve would be switched to the other team.
  • If accidentally and by mistake the ball hits the net while serving, it will be repeated and no-fault or point would be secured to anyone.

5- Scoring Points and Faults:

It is vital in any sport to know the rules and regulations of scoring points and making faults. In pinging the points will be scored to the players under the below circumstances:

  • If the serving player accidentally hits the ball to the net and the ball bounces back to his side without crossing it to the opponent’s side this would be considered a fault and a point shall be given to the opponent player.
  • If in the case of doubles, the serve goes to the wrong side of the opponent’s table then again a point would be scored by the opponent team. Also, check the Table tennis warm-up.
  • The opponent player after receiving the serve hits the ball twice with his paddle before forwarding it to the opponent’s side, it will be considered a fault and a point shall be given to the opponent.

6- Who Would be the Winner of the Ping-Pong/Table Tennis Game?

There are various winning-losing standards set by the recreational players however as per the International Table tennis federation, there is a standardized rule of 11 points to declare a winner. The team/player who successfully secrets 11 points before the other player/team, would be considered the winner.

The Questions Most Commonly Asked by People Regarding Ping-Pong:

1- What are the main ping pong regulations set by ITTF?

There are various standardized sets of rules and regulations declared by the International Table Tennis Federation such as holding the paddles, serving standards, how to make scores and what would be considered a fault.

2- How to score a point in ping-pong?

The Tip is to stay longer without making any faults and tricking the opponent to make faults.


Like all other sports, ping pong and table tennis have some set of regulations defined by the International Table Tennis Federation however, recreational players are adopting different rules and regulations all around the world.

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