How to Play Table Tennis Double – Rules and Regulations

Introduction to table tennis, how is it played, and what are the rules and regulations:

Considering the sensitivity of the table tennis game, several rules have been legally put into place by the tournament referees. These rules help to avoid misconceptions and faulty scoring while the table tennis game is being played on the National and International platforms.

Before digging into the table tennis double rules, let’s first very briefly get the know-how to the table tennis game and its rules that can be understood by everyone in 2-3 sentences.

So Here Begins the Quick Start:

All of you must be aware of the table tennis game, the main highlights about how it is played and a little bit about the rules and regulations. Table tennis is simply played on a table with the help of a racket and ball. Two or four players can simultaneously play this game at a time. The table for the doubles team of table tennis is marked in such a way that it shows a total of four playing areas making the defined boundaries for each. The middle is divided with the help of a net which is the basic point of segregation, defining the zone areas of both players separately.

Apparently, it might look like simply bouncing and hitting the ball from one side towards the other side crossing the net. Also, check the Seal Your Table Tennis Blade.

However, the rules are not that simple.

Let’s now get into the ruling details in easy and understandable wording.

How to Play Table Tennis Double

Understanding the Concept of “Doubles” and “Singles” in Table Tennis:

Before going into the details of doubles rules, it is important to clarify the concept of “doubles”.

Table tennis can be played between two players making the team where one player would be on one side of the table and another player on the other side. This team setup is also known as “singles” in some parts of the world, but this term is not internationally and officially recognized. However, the term “doubles” is officially adopted and recognized worldwide, which means that two players on each side of the table play a match together, making two teams. For example, Team A consists of two players, player A and Player AA. Player A would be positioned on one side, and player AA would be positioned on the opposite side but in front of player A, and the same setup would be applied for team B. Also, check the How to Clean and Maintain a Table Tennis Table?

The rules would vary for both Singles and doubles gaming setups.

Basic Rules and Regulations of Table Tennis:

Below are some basic rules applied in table tennis game according to the legislation of ITTF and officially adopted worldwide:

1- Servicing Rules:

– While starting the game, the player who wins the toss would be given the authority to do the service. In the beginning, the player must be careful to do the opening serve in such a way that the ball is not hidden from the opponent in any way. The ball should be in the open palm of the hand so that you won’t be able to spin the ball while throwing.

– Before hitting the ball directly toward the opponent, it is mandatory to first throw the ball upwards in the air to a minimum of 16 cm distance and then hit it horizontally towards the opponent.

In this way, the opponent would have an idea of where the ball is coming from, and he can predict the whereabouts of the next shot. Also, check the Ping Pong Table Dimensions.

– While making the first serve, ensure that the ball is above the table to such an extent that the opponent can easily view the ball, giving the opponent a clear view of the first move he will make.

– Once the server throws the serve, he/she is not allowed to hide the ball with his arm or hand, hindering the sight of the opponent.

Double Rules:

The service rules discussed above apply to the single-player team. Lets now have a look at what are the rules applied when double teams are playing:

Diagonal position of the ball:

– While making the serve, the player must be conscious of the right direction of the serve. The serve must go to the opponent player who is standing in a diagonal position to him.

This rule is very important, and players have to do a lot of practice to throw the ball in the right direction because if the ball is not thrown diagonally, there are chances that the opponent player might run towards the position where your teammate is standing.

Hence in order to avoid intermingling of the players, the first shot in “doubles” requires long hours of practice.

A player can easily practice this technique without any official table tennis set up at home on his dining table, making a mark toward the diagonal position and keep trying until the technique gets saved in the muscle memory.

Alternate shots by both the team players:

This is another rule designed by table tennis experts to ensure the game’s sophistication and alignment.

The players can only strike the ball alternatively to their respective team members. For example, if player A from team A is doing the service, he would mandatorily direct the ball diagonally where player B of the opponent team is standing. Similarly, player B would hit the ball alternatively towards player A and not towards his teammate. The player’s AA and BB would come into the picture to save their partner’s movement and not to go into fault.

Service change:

In the course of the game, whenever it is required to change the server, it is held mandatory that the player who had previously received the server would now do the next service and direct the ball towards his own partner standing in front of him. Also, check the Table Tennis Footwork.

The logic behind this rule is to ensure that all the partners get equal chances of playing until either makes eight scores of the teams.

Once a team secures 8 points, the next rally would start.

Difference between “doubles” and “singles.”

Lets now have a look at the major differences between the singles and the doubles:

– The bouncing rule:

The first and major difference is the bouncing rule while serving. In doubles, while doing the service, as per the rule, it is mandatory that the ball can only be bounced on the right side of the table and should not touch the left half. Both the serving party and the receiving party are equally applicable to this rule. Whereas in singles, the server and the receiver have permission to bounce the ball in any direction on the table because there is no partner teammate on the opposite side.

– Who to play:

The second difference lies in the player’s turn and who would be playing next. For example, in doubles, after the end of a rally, the next service is given to the player who was the receiver in the previous shot, and the next server has to shoot the ball towards his teammate or partner in a straight direction. Also, read Table Tennis vs Ping Pong.

However, in singles, the next turn would always be the opponent of the one who made the fault and vice versa.

The conclusion is that following the correct sequence to play is one of the key rules required to meet table tennis compliance.

– Table markings:

In double, the table would be separated into four equal parts marking two white lines. One white line would be in the horizontal center where the net is installed, and the other white line would be marked vertically in the middle dividing the positions of players on each side. However, the table used for singles can be without any central vertical line, and just the net in between would be enough.

Hence the tables used for singles and doubles would not be the same.

– Wheelchair rule:

Interestingly, wheelchair players can also take part in table tennis games.

The rules would be slightly different if a wheelchair person is involved.

In doubles, if any wheelchair player is included, the wheelchair player would do the service if his team has won the toss, and after the ball is returned from the opponent, the partner of the wheelchair player would make the return.

Table tennis double rules

After reading the above details, some questions might be wondering your mind, such as:

1- Is it important for the returning player to make the next move?

Yes, in doubles, in order to maintain the game’s alignment, it is highly important to follow the correct sequence, or else the players would intermingle, losing the authenticity and discipline of the match.

2- How long a table tennis match would last?

Well, it depends upon the team structure. A singles team match might last lesser hours as compared to the doubles. Also, it depends upon the player’s aggressiveness and pace.


Considering the above-discussed factors, one cannot come to a conclusion which version is better for singles and doubles.

Both have their own authenticity, charm, and aggressiveness. However, it is felt that the doubles match is more audience targeted, and the number of audiences has been found to be larger in doubles matches as compared to singles. You Can Also check the How To Hold A Ping Pong Paddle?

Also, from the tournament organizer’s point of view, it has been observed that the doubles matches tend to be more trendy and fast-growing as compared to singles.

Table Tennis Doubles Strategies

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